Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Captain America: The New Deal (2003)

Author: John Ney Rieber | Illustrator: John Cassaday | Page Count: 176

"Blood on your hands, they say.  As though it stops there.
At the wrist.  Like a glove."

TND was John Ney Rieber’s first Capt America story, and the one that launched yet another reboot of the series, post 9/11.  It wasn't a good start.  It’s political.

I live in the UK.  We’re not patriotic.  It's a generalisation but largely true.  We aren’t taught allegiance in schools, or weaned into it by fraternities and sororities, and expected to declare undying loyalty, etc.  Being an outsider means I don’t know if the view I have of American culture is even remotely close to the real America; it’s a view based on media offerings, and we all know their truth to bullshit ratio.  The book embodies what the media tells me so I can't know how much of it mirrors real sentiment, and how much is exaggerated.  Irrespective, it’s not a good story.  If you strip away the self-reaffirming monologue, the calls for unity and the blatant mollycoddling then there’s almost nothing left.

Most of the text is in short, broken clauses; the type that's best reserved for action scenes.  When that kind of writing takes up the bulk of a text it disrupts the narrative flow and stops being fun to read.  It’s like listening to that kid with lung problems from Malcolm in the Middle read someone's diary.

There’s an attempt to show the 'enemy' perspective, but it’s uneven.  Respect to Rieber for trying, but when Capt resorts to beating down his demonised opponent with words, claiming that at least America doesn't kill children, I was ready to fling the book out the window.  I’d like to say it was a clever device to show him naïvely blinded by patriotism but I really don’t think it was.  I sincerely hope I'm wrong.

John Cassaday’s art is fantastic.  His depiction of the Captain sifting through rubble, gray dust filling the frame, with a pained sense of failure on his hero’s shoulders is beautifully presented, and the action scenes are dynamic.  It’s a shame that such great work was accompanied by such a problematic text.

The book collects together Captain America Vol 4, Issues 1 - 6

2 torn flags out of 5

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