Saturday, February 19, 2011

Old friends (Dave Cox and Peggy Carter)

I'm almost two years behind the rest of the world on Captain America, because I buy them on my iPad, but Marvel just released a new batch, so I got to read issue #49 from 2009. Yay, pacifist veteran Dave Cox is back. It's nice having a writer who knows and appreciates Cap's history. Pre-Brubaker we had a couple of years of writers who seemed pretty unfamiliar with the character.

And we got to see Peggy Carter too! Of course her history here is completely different than the history given for her in the 1970s, but since her first meeting with Cap now happened over 50 years ago, changes were required. She's now Sharon's Aunt, not her sister, and she's in a nursing home. Brubaker ditched the part about Peggy being in the crazy house until she met up with Cap again. Soon she'll become Sharon's great aunt, I imagine (or they'll kill her off and stop referring to her at all).

Friday, February 11, 2011

The J.M. DeMatteis Era (1981-1984)

Got a little distracted for a while, but I finished the J.M. DeMatteis issues. I'd actually read them all when they came out but I'd forgotten much of it.

The DeMatteis era doesn't always get a lot of recognition. It was interrupted a lot by other writers. It started off with a bang with art by Mike Zeck, but ended with weaker art by a Paul Neary. DeMatteis revived the character of Jack Monroe (the fifties Bucky) and made him Cap's partner as Nomad, which was kind of interesting. Mostly though he doubled down on the course set by earlier writers like Roger Stern and focused on giving Cap a real life, with a home and a job and friends. He made the supporting cast more than window dressing. We got to see his ex-partner Sam Wilson (the Falcon) a lot, which was nice. And he introduced the character of Arnie Roth in issue 270, a childhood friend of Steve Rogers (and probably the first recurring gay character in Marvel comics... though his partner Michael had to be referred to as a "roommate").

DeMatteis understood Cap and his history quite well. He understood that a guy wearing a flag suit is making a pretty strong statement, and it was going to result in pretty strong responses. My favorite issue was # 267, Cap vs. a poser called Every-Man.:

(What this loser doesn't know is that this is actually the third time this issue Cap's been spit on. Cap is just bored with it.)

At the end of the run, the Red Skull was killed off for what was intended to be the final time, and Cap was aged a few decades. I swear I remember reading DeMatteis say in an interview somewhere that if he'd have stayed on as writer he'd have kept Cap old and that it would have been "a very different book," but I can't find anything about this on the internet. It would definitely have been different.