Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mark Gruenwald Year One (Captain America 307-318)

I've just finished the first year of Mark Gruenwald's ten year run as Captain America writer, and I'm remembering why I stopped reading the book at this point. It's not bad. But the writing and art are both kind of flat.

Mark doesn't seem too interested in the Steve Roger's side of Cap's life, and over the course of the first year he dismantles all of it. His fiancĂ©e Bernie leaves the state to go to law school. He moves out of his apartment, and sets up shop at Avengers mansion again. Gruenwald is strictly interested in superheroics here, and he tries to keep things light. Unfortunately, he writes Cap like one of those lantern-jawed two-dimensional heroes in a 1950s DC comic. He thoughts tend to be along the line of  "Wonder what possesses a guy like Blue Streak to squander his great athletic ability on crime? Such a waste of potential." Patriotic shouldn't be a synonym for dumb or naive.

The recurring villains in the first year are a new incarnation of the Serpent Squad. They're bad guys for hire with snake motif costumes and powers. They're run something like a business, with no agenda besides making a buck. And... um... they're not that interesting.

Also, there's an ongoing mystery about somebody killing third-rate villains.

I kind of find myself wanting to skip ahead to the Mark Waid era. A lot of people speak fondly of the Gruenwald era though, so maybe it improves. I know in year three there's a story about Steve Rogers being "fired" and replaced as Captain America. That doesn't really sound that interesting (I never really bought that anybody had the authority to do that) but who knows?

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