Review: X-23: Target X by Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost, Michael Choi (Illustrator)

X-23: Target XX-23: Target X by Craig Kyle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

 

10 stars!
Read this! Just…read this!

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This is a continuation of Kyle’s X-23:Innocence Lost, and it does not disappoint. If anything, it’s even better than the first one.

Everything is being told in flashbacks from Luara/X-23’s point of view, while she is being detained by Captain America…and represented by Daredevil.

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X-23 goes looking for her mother’s family. In the last volume she and her cousin were both much younger, and her mother sent Laura in to save her niece from a serial killer.
Her cousin was told none of it happened, but she still has nightmares. Also, X-23’s aunt has hooked up with a smarmy boyfriend that isn’t helping the situation out any. The family dynamic was done very well here, and I loved that the aunt immediately took Laura into her home.

Meanwhile, the folks from the place that cloned her are hot on her trail. And they’ve sent in her handler, Kimura, who is a psychotic assassin that Laura is conditioned to be unable to harm.

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*Important Spoilery Stuff Happens*

Since Laura was cloned from Wolverine’s DNA, and she has very limited self-worth at this point, she sets out on a mission to track him down.
And kill him.
Because she thinks if she’s nothing but a weapon that destroys everything, then how much worse must the guy she came from be, right?
Awww, yeah! It’s a
SNIKT!
fight!

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Wha..?!
Yeah, it’s a surprisingly tender Snikt! fight. Which made more sense than if Wolverine had just carved her up, and left her bleeding.

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Now that Matt and Steve have heard her story, it’s up to Cap to decide what to do with this little girl. He wants to prosecute her for all of the crimes she committed while under the control of the Facility that raised her, but Daredevil thinks that even if he turns her over to S.H.I.E.L.D., she’ll just be used as another weapon.
So what do they decide to do with her?

READ IT!

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Review: Night of the Living Deadpool; by Cullen Bunn

Night of the Living DeadpoolNight of the Living Deadpool by Cullen Bunn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


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At first, I thought this was about the walk of whore-ers…so I wondered why we had a whole theme of reading about Lono’s Wednesday afternoons…then I realized it meant SCARY Stuff (Then again, I’ve seen some of those Whores…yikes! and Lono’s balls? it’s like Emperor Palpatine’s neck in Jedi!). But I digress…

Anyhow, this is a short, fun, funny, and only conceptually scary book. It’s about zombies, so I know it counts. Also, it’s a tribute to the Romero films and enjoyable. I LOVE the colour palette, black, white, read, and other shades but those 3 are the best. The Covers are art. Pure art. I’d hang some on my walls, but then I’d have to take down the Dukes of Hazzard and Kathy Ireland posters…

This is one of the better Deadpool’s I’ve read; Cullen Bunn has a good handle on him now, and there’s not too much smartass 4th wall stuff, but just enough funny bits to make you chuckle in a good way.
“This is a Civil War Graveyard”
“We talkin’ Cap versus Iron Man or Patrick Swayze versus James Read?” ZING!

Superhero cribs smell more like testosterone and B.O. less like mold and fertilizer…

Singing Rush songs? “Working Man”…hilarious!

Making a Jack-o-Lantern out of a severed zombie head and a flashlight? So he can have his sword/gun hand free!

Complaining that killing zombies is actually kinda sad: “But I’ve played video games!”

Clarence, the AIM scientist zombie head companion, then the joke about every time a 9MM Rings…an Angel gets his wings!

Going out in a blaze of glory…”Young Guns Style”! Yes.

The plot itself is pretty decent too, Wade wakes from a food coma (all you can eat Chimichangas) to find that there’s a zombie apocalypse, and all the heroes are dead…except him, and some ragtag peeps in an El Camino all jacked up. There’s the usual stereotypes left in the party, and what happens is what we expect.
(of course the 8 week search for a perfect hideout until they find a terrible one is pretty funny)

Then the usual sliver of hope, and whatever happens from there, Deadpool puts himself into his work…and a different, yet nifty ending.
I’d love to see it continue in some way, but who knows. (We also get to see Bunn’s notes on what he might have done with the series in the back).

So pretty fun, some good laughs that hit my pop culture target, and we have a whore-if-eye-ing good time!


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Review: Ultimate FF Vol. 5 – Crossover; by Mark Millar

Ultimate Fantastic Four, Vol. 5: CrossoverUltimate Fantastic Four, Vol. 5: Crossover by Mark Millar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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This is a solid 3.5 Star book that introduced a bunch of new possibilities, but docked back to 3 because it just abandoned a lot of what I loved about the series under Ellis’ watch.

Mark Millar is back in control here, and that’s a good thing, because Mike Carey was by far the weakest link in the chain (well, when you have Bendis, Millar, Ellis, Carey; one of these things is NOT like the other…).

I found the last volume quite a disappointment, but this one is an improvement, though I still find that Warren Ellis’ run was the peak of things for me so far.
Art Duties fall to Greg Land, and while he does some good work, I believe I enjoyed the Kubert brothers stuff the best so far…for this series at least.

So the FF is back in time chasing Chrono-Bandits…yup, looks like they did have a precedent before Mark Waid threw them into Indestructible HULK’s way during his run. (I KNEW I’d seen them before today!) Not the same people but the same idea. They threatened to kill the first creature that crawled out of the oceans as a precursor to Humanity….Millar wisely had Reed explain that would probably mean none of them ever exist, so we didn’t completely need to savage it.

We see here that the FF now has a name, they’re out and about, and working alongside the Ultimates (who don’t seem to give a shit about them, ahh I miss grumpy dick Cap!)
We pick up the story after that with Reed talking to the hologram Reed that contacted him at the end of last Volume’s Think Tank storyline…well Reed has a portal he’s constructed here, with the help of Holo-Reed, who even lets him meet Franklin (as a hologram).

There’s some problems for me by this point though…they’ve oversexed Sue at this point (no doubt a Mark Millar action) and Reed is slowly reverting to his driven scientist who ignores everyone persona from the regular Marvel U…
So Reed uses his machine to go thru dimensions to the other world…and finds out that he was duped…by ZOMBIE REED! and the ZOMBIE FF! On this world, the Heroes are all zombies who feast on human flesh…luckily, one “hero” still lives, who saves Reed, and then manages to explain what happened…Reed is more like our Ultimate version we love, and the rest of the story proceeds in a way that makes a lot more sense to me, just as a parallel universe activity, with a cool ending.

(Here’s a hint; Jeff will NOT like what goes down between Ben and a certain someone Green).

By this time we’ve done nearly half the book…and jump right into the next story…the return of Mary Storm! Mother of Sue and Johnny! (who was long thought dead but was only just working on a very important research project.)

We get some stuff about her being a bit of a bitch, careerist (she’s kind of a female Reed Richards from Marvel 616 but sexy, in a hot librarian way) terrible mother. I don’t love the art here, as they’ve totally changed everyone’s appearance, and not for the better.

So turns out, that Momma Storm was busy discovering Atlantis! (Ultimate U doesn’t have it) and she needs the FF help to go deep in the ocean and check shit out…Sue sees right through her and I loved that Sue’s not a moron, and calls her on her using them, and agrees only to be done with the woman ASAP.

Well it’s Atlantis, and we can’t have that without everyone’s favourite Mer-Mutant-Mariner! In this version, he’s still a gigantic dickhead, and still has a boner for Sue (good taste for sure, Ultimate Sue is hot hot hot!). Fighting ensues…not a surprise…But we see that Reed has built another machine (shocking how just a few issues ago he was all about the rules and teamwork, and now he’s built a dimensional portal, communicated with parallel Reed, and made a gigantic robot combining all the FF powers! (called Fantastic-05 of course, because apparently Millar didn’t get the memo that Ultimate FF mock the shit out of stupid names for things, and we the readers LOVE them for it!).

So Namor is subdued, but turns out, not for long, and long story short, he agrees to leave things in one piece if he gets a piece…of Sue! Dude, I kinda like your borderline rape-y creep blackmail style (this is Mark Millar, so don’t be at all surprised kiddies, at least this isn’t as sick as that) This just happens to be for a kiss, not a Lono special with Cheese.

So all’s well again…except we’ve totally abandoned most of the characteristics of the personalities, they don’t look the same, they are becoming more Ultimates(y) ie. dickish…reverting to stupid things, and we don’t get the same science or explanations, and the relationships are put to the backburner by Millar, who is more in his Michael Bay form here than I’d like…however, he does do that stuff well, and the Zombies & Namor stuff is fun, so it’s not a total mess.

All in all, I’m worried that the series peaked with Ellis’ ending, I just hope they can level things off and not regress much more…if they turn to in-fighting and acting like assholes, I’ll just stop reading…plus, we need more DOOM!


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Review: The Superior Spider-Man, Vol. 6 – Goblin Nation; by Dan Slott

The Superior Spider-Man, Vol. 6: Goblin NationThe Superior Spider-Man, Vol. 6: Goblin Nation by Dan Slott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My triumphant return from the Indy world, I picked the right thing to read.

Dan Slott, you are Mr. Spider-Man.

I’d been waiting for this final chapter for a while, my library was late to order it, and it somehow hid from me until now…

Well it was worth the while.

Otto realizes that the Green Goblin has defeated him, NYC is burning, everyone is turning against him, there’s no one left to trust…

But we see Otto keep fighting, not giving up, and asking himself “What would Parker do?” in a split second decision…but Otto doesn’t have to wonder, because the Soul of Peter Parker has survived inside the Mindscape of Spider-Man, and screams out to Otto to act!

The result saves a life, but lets the Goblin escape. In the process, Peter reveals to Otto that his soul is still alive in Spider-Man’s body.

We see Peter’s soul hiding from Otto, so much so, that he dives into Otto’s own memories, and experiences his whole life, which nearly robs him of his remaining memories as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. The struggle is played out very well, convincingly, with Peter losing himself at times, only able to recall who he is by the very strength of self and powerful memories that cannot be taken from him.

This 2 page spread covers the entire history of Spider-Man, with art way back from Ditko all the way forward. It is in web form all around Peter, who’s just established dominance in the Soul of Spider-Man. He focuses on how important his memories were, the ups, downs, triumphs, tragedies, and the fun, surprisingly, (or not, actually) he focuses on how much FUN he had.
It’s so effective.

Once Peter re-emerges, he and Otto back and forth, except, it’s not nearly what you’d expect. Otto owns up to his arrogance, and tells Peter that he’s always underachieved, and he (Peter) could be so much more.
Otto swings back to Parker Industries (which Peter is totally confused to see) and (view spoiler)

(AWWW!!)

Peter realizes just how true the love Otto has is, and Otto’s final words to Peter: “only YOU can save her. Because you ARE the Superior Spider-Man.” and then Otto fades to nothingness…

OK, I cried when I read it for the first time, and I’m not afraid to admit I’m misty right now. Curse you Dan Slott! For hitting it right on the nerve. (hide spoiler)]

His oldest enemy stole everything from him, only to discover that even with his victory, Otto would never be Peter. It’s positively powerful what Otto does, and with it, the greatest act of selflessness of his life, towards the person he had hated longer and more than anyone…

To me, this is the pinnacle of the entire series right there. Yes, we still have some stuff to do, but I’m sure you can figure out what we do from here…and you should absolutely read this.

Dan Slott is the Scott Snyder of Spider-Man. A very creative, super planned out, and cognisant of the history of the character, respectful, incorporating it into the present, but also paving new grounds.

The Coda of the book/epilogue if you wish, shows just how much damage was done between Otto’s arrogance, and Osborn/Goblin’s destruction. Broken lives, damaged relationships, forever change the whole scope of Peter’s world.
It’s Greek Tragedy, in a sense, because although there is a resolution, and what needs to happen happens, the return is not as triumphant as one would think. Poor Peter, struggling that hard to survive, and this is what you come back to…

But. If there’s one thing anyone knows, it’s that Peter Parker is Amazing, and he can make it back from this. He will, and I think it makes me appreciate him a whole lot more…I think many of us took him for granted and just joked about his whipping boy status in Marvel.

This was an eye opener, and I hope I don’t take the Wall Crawler for granted anymore…poor bastard, welcome back Pete. We missed you!


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Review: Thor Epic Collection: The Mighty Thor – by Tom DeFalco

Thor Epic Collection: War of the PantheonsThor Epic Collection: War of the Pantheons by Tom DeFalco
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a classic collection of Thor stories, coming just after the Epic Simonson run. (1987 era) Thor has his beard, new Armour Suit, and many things ahead of him. Finding that he’s recovered after the warriors three make him get a shave, he returns to his original appearance.
We get a lot of interesting stuff here:

The disbanded Avengers, upon Thor’s return.

The introduction of Eric Masterson.

The return of Odin after his battle with the Fire Demon Surtur.

Hardly any Loki, but near the end.

The Celtic Gods.

Oh, and one tiny little thing that doesn’t really matter too much…

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Only Steve Rogers lifting Mjolnir! Woot. (FYI That’s Steve as ‘The Captain’ while John Walker was Captain America, which is interesting, because his suit here looks a lot like the USAgent costume that Walker would take on permanently after Rogers returned to being Cap.)

We also have a future version of Thor lifting Mjolnir, but that’s not as awesome.

4 stars for the classic moment alone, and some cool stuff. De Falco is a bit too wordy, and Walt did a better job, but it’s not terrible.


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Review: Age of Ulton Companion, by Various Artists (including Rick Remender and Mark Waid)

Age of Ultron CompanionAge of Ultron Companion by Marvel Comics
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another book where I have like no context, except that I know who Ultron is, and what he likes to do.

This book is like one of those packs of 10 mini boxes of cereal you used to eat on vacation as a kid; there’s a lot of Corn Flakes and Bran Flakes and Rice Krispies, but not enough Fruit Loops or Corn Pops, and Frosted Flakes taste shitty after the first few bites.

That’s what this is, a grab bag, some good, some not, and some meh-ish.

The Uncanny Avengers one (Remender of course) is interesting, the FF is a rehash for me (Matt Fraction, but still powerful in its own way) and then theres some Superior Spider Man, Wolvie and the X, and Mark Waid closes the volume with a story about Ultron’s daddy; Hank Pym.

The Waid story might have the most lasting value; pretty much it explains how his parents weren’t all that supportive, wanting practicality, and it was his grandma Pym who encouraged him to think outside the norms…so far in fact, that it was a Catch-22, because Ultron happens, and he reveals how he solved that, but also the last panel is a truly terrifying vision of what Pym’s renewed confidence will lead to.

Waid uses the book to paint the layers of Pym’s psyche, and reveal why he might be the most dangerous man in the Marvel U.

Other high points: Ultron outthinking Otto-Spidey; Captain Marvel going out in a blaze of glory, and alternative reality Havok being martyred.

It was interesting, and for each bite that tasted like filler and horse-meat byproduct, there was just enough tasty gluctose-fructose corn syrup-y Red #6 goodness.


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Review: Avengers: Prelude to Infinity – by that Stoner, Jonathan Hickman

Avengers, Vol. 3: Prelude to InfinityAvengers, Vol. 3: Prelude to Infinity by Jonathan Hickman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Yet another case of the library only having Vol. 3 and not even having ordered 1 or 2! Yet, I read Thor Vol 2 the other day w/o 1 and it was great! So I took the chance here…

BIG Mistake.

This is so head scratching and confusing, I have no idea who the non Avenger Avengers are, who are all these cosmic types?

Hyperion? Huh? Captain Universe??? REALLY?

Gobbledygook about new evolution, dying world, eternal versus man, blah blah blah.

Kinda like coming in after the halfway point in a Terry Gilliam movie with absolutely NO CONTEXT.

Prelude to Infinity…OK I’m guessing INFINITY is THE CROSSOVER EVENT OF 201…insert number here.

No thanks.
Based on this I also don’t plan to check out the previous vols.

To put in context, I only gave this 2 because I don’t believe it’s fair to criticize a book too much when you are missing the first 10 chapters.

However…Hickman’s East of West is positively genius compared to this, and that left my mind just scratchy and dented.

This is a big fat “NO” for me.

I’ll stick to the Illuminati Avengers book instead.


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Review: A vs. X by Brian Michael Bendis and Friends.

Avengers vs. X-MenAvengers vs. X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Underwhelming.

I am glad I didn’t hold off reading all the stuff that comes after this (pretty much all of AvsX leads into the Marvel NOW! Relaunch-y-ish-type thing. Makes a bit more sense now, but I had already pieced it together based on HOW GODDAMN OFTEN THEY TELL US THAT THE PHOENIX FORCE WENT INTO THE X-MEN IT DID!

UGH.

You know what? The story served it’s purpose. I can see how some think it’s a bit lazy to bring Scarlet Witch out of nowhere to be part of this, but I enjoyed it. Even the characters are like WTF is SHE doing here? I’m willing to see this as a cyclical karmic balancing of House of M. However, I like that the answer has to do with Hope AND Scarlet Witch, not just one of them. It’s the cooperation fostered that I think should be the telling moment of the series.

Instead, it’s how quickly can shit escalate to 11.

Cap and Cyclops are pretty much the same character. “I will take the burden of leadership. I am a great leader of people, everyone counts on me”
Except then they both shit the bed in terms of actually sitting down and TALKING about this.

Of course the fighting is very cool.
The FIRST time…
The other problem is that NONE of the characters outside of about a dozen actually factor in at all.
(Cap, Tony, Logan, Cyke, Emma, Namor, the Rasputins, and a few others).
I was pleased to see Iron Fist get an actual speaking role! With some importance! It’s a first for Danny Rand in a real event book.

However, other than the 5 X-Men who get the Phoenix force, the rest of them are just shunned to the fringes of irrelevancy.
Maybe they’re more present in other AVX books? But, other than a little bit of Storm, and a touch of Rogue, all we get is the 5 of them going all supernova.

This is a spot where I feel like they lost the chance to give Magneto a much more crucial part (even though they did in a way).

There should have been a LOT more focus on Logan and his pull between the 2, especially since both Scott AND Steve treat him like a loose cannon asshole, when in fact, he’s probably the most realistic about the whole issue.

The thing is, this book misses a LOT of opportunities to actually go into character relationships. Other than Black Panther/Storm and a little bit of Scarlet Witch/Vision, we don’t get much on the relationships here, much is just thrown out the window so the artists can do punchy mcpunchersons again.

I think with the writers here (Bendis, Aaron, Brubaker, Hickman and Fraction), they have the Top of Marvel’s heap, yet it seems like they were forced to do this one, and the different voices actually take away from the cohesion of the whole story. I would like to blame some of this on editorial staff, because otherwise it means some of my favourites actually wrote some horridly turgid shit here.

There’s just such a rich history to delve into here, and it just turns into: how many ways can Cap throw Avengers at Cyke and the Phoenix 5 until Tony Stark figures some shit out?

Oh ya, and where the F was the FF? (Other than Benny) You think Reed is going to let this all happen without involving himself or his brain? The FF is the perfect go between here, because they’ve served as Avengers, but they’re separate and they understand what changes like mutations do (ESPECIALLY BENNY!).

Oh and, I’m hoping someone will explain why Hulk doesn’t show up until the end? They make a huge deal of Cap asking him for help, and then he’s barely used at all…was this a point at which Banner was unavailable? Because otherwise, he, Pym, McCoy and Stark should have been working on some answer.

In the end, what might have been will never be known, because this milquetoast shit happened instead. Other than making Scotty into the biggest badguy since Magneto (irony of ironies, Erik was the one trying to talk him down). I am glad to see that they took the events here and used them to the best they could (Scott/Logans X-Men, Uncanny Avengers, etc.)

I just really wish they’d DONE something instead of throw every character at the books and hope things would stick. We really didn’t need Luke Cage, Daredevil, Red Hulk, and a lot of others if they weren’t doing anything. It should really have been called “The entire roster of Avengers and reserves from the last decade+ versus the Mutant Power Couple, Namor and the Ruskie Sibs.
(speaking of that, who decided that Peter would have ABSOLUTELY NO PERSONALITY WHATSOEVER???? Based on who he is/was, he should have been the first one to reject the Phoenix power. There’s some few lines about not liking Ilyana’s angry rage, but that’s about it).

OK I’m going to stop, because I realize I could go on and on raging about what went wrong here forever. That’s not the best result for a major event book like this.

Do yourself a favour and focus on the aftermath instead:

Prof X is dead at Cyclops’ hand, which opens the door to him being the badguy mutant outlaw, which actually suits him better and makes him more interesting. So in that regard, SUCCESS! Now to wait for the return.

Miss this and save the headaches.

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Review: Captain America Vol. 4 by Ed Brubaker – The Conclusion to the Epic 8-YEAR Run.

Captain America by Ed Brubaker, Vol. 4Captain America by Ed Brubaker, Vol. 4 by Ed Brubaker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the end of Brubaker’s legendary (and it was, for 8 YEARS!) run on Cap. It’s a shame they brought in Cullen Bunn, because he’s just not the same caliber. Issues 15-18 2 stars…Issue 19 4+ stars.

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Disappointed. Yup. I mean I see where Brubaker wanted to take this, that the new Madame Hydra and Bravo are using psychological warfare to turn the people against Cap, and a commentary about our focus on Talking Heads and the 24/7 news cycle. (there’s some great art showing totally moronic people on their phones not even noticing there’s a super-battle going on, and then getting mad when a Supe saves them)

I see what he wanted to do, but Bunn just isn’t up to task to do a Brubaker.

There’s lotsa fighting, Falcon helps out, Sharon, Baron Zemo shows up in a decent duel with Agent 13. Cap gets his showdown with Bravo and Madame Hydra…

Yawn. Really.

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But then…Issue #19 Steve Epting and Ed Brubaker, nearly redeem the whole volume….Nearly.

First off, Epting’s cover art is beautiful.

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Seeing as how Epting drew the majority of Cap during Ed’s run, it’s fitting to have him back to close this chapter. This issue runs almost like a summary of the past 8 years, but also I think as a testament to who Captain America is, was, and will be. Like all great writers who really understand their heroes; Brubaker has defined Steve Rogers the man as separate from Captain America the institution. There’s no doubt reading this issue that Ed seemed to be endorsing a new Cap for the future (and we now have Sam Wilson!).

The whole issue humanizes Steve the man, and shows his doubts, fears, beliefs in his time as Captain America, and his belief that the idea of Cap is more important than the man who wears the costume. I’m not American, but you just have to be moved by Rogers here, baring his soul to a man lying broken in a hospital, who idolized Rogers his whole life, and which drove him mad. (William Burnside or Cap of the 50s)

Talking about how his legacy had been tainted by those who would use men like Burnside for their own government agendas, and the realization that he could never control what people THOUGHT Cap stood for, even if Rogers wished he could.

“The mission isn’t just mine…the mission goes with the symbol. And if I don’t wear this uniform, then someone else will…someone else always will…because that’s the hardest thing about being Captain America…Understanding that the mission is Too Big …and it’ll never end.”

Only someone who’s lived and breathed this character for nearly a decade could get inside his head and pull this off without sounding corny or cheesy. Bravo Ed.

And so, both Steve Rogers and Ed Brubaker ride off into the sunset to bring this epic chapter to an end. Ed includes a thank you note at the end, and you almost get a tear of sadness, knowing he’s going to miss Cap almost as much as we’re going to miss him writing it.

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Review: Captain America Vol. 3 by Ed Brubaker

Captain America by Ed Brubaker, Vol. 3Captain America by Ed Brubaker, Vol. 3 by Ed Brubaker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This isn’t a 3-star book. It’s close, and more out of enjoyment of the artwork and residual love of Brubaker’s epic Cap run.

There’s someone hunting down ex-Super-Villains who are in Witness Protection…
It’s Scourge…or at least, the new version of Scourge.

This is sorta a reboot of the Scourge of the Underworld from the 80s Marvel, who went around killing…yes, members of the Underworld.

This one is tied in with Madame Hydra, and doing things to make Cap look like he doesn’t know what he’s doing.

Dum Dum, Sharon Carter, and a few others show up, but really, the meat of the book is Cap discovering Scourge’s identity, and the ramifications of that discovery and subsequent actions.

There’s also included a classic (1987 Mark Gruenwald) Cap issue which ties into the current story.

More for the emotional toll that things take on Cap do I give this 3 stars…on the whole it could have been pared down a little.

It really feels like Brubaker is running out of gas, which seems to be what he’s transferring to Cap in this, and if so, that’s OK, because it is about the only interesting part of this.

Take or Leave, but it’s not Brubaker’s best, there’s far more Cap stories that are better.

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