Ed Brubaker’s Captain America: Meh.

Whenever my family discusses which superheroes various NFL quarterbacks would be, everyone agrees that Drew Brees would be Captain America. I agree too, I guess, but it bums me out because Captain America is sort of (sorry! sorry! sorry! but he is) boring. And Drew Brees is not boring. In real life it is heartwarming, not dull, for someone to be all the time kind and good.

Randon always says: “I think you should read some more Captain America comics. I think you’d like him if you read some of his comics.”

And I say, “Mmmmmmmm, I don’t think so.”

I’m telling you this so that you will understand my bias going into these Captain America comics. I really love to be right. I can acknowledge the possibility that I was hoping not to enjoy Captain America.

Here’s the thing: I did not really enjoy Captain America. (I was right.) Ed Brubaker does some wonderfully insane things in his run, and if you have hung out here very much at all, you will know that I love crazy plot developments. Most insanest in this run is the plotline about the Winter Soldier, a Russian assassin of extraordinary gifts who turns out to be — cue spoilers and dramatic music — none other than Captain America’s young, dead partner of so many years ago, Bucky! One of the few reliably dead comic book characters in the history of comic books! Actually not dead this whole time! Actually was revived and brainwashed by Russians! And brought back to comics by Ed Brubaker’s villains for the sole purpose of screwing with Captain America’s head.

My first and hugest problem is that Captain America is not interesting. The people in his life can say he’s irritating (and they do), but since he’s also the nicest human person and everyone who speaks about him says he is the best person they ever knew, it doesn’t hold much water to call him irritating. Mostly he is tediously virtuous, not in an interesting way.

Before you ask, yes, I could have imagined it was Drew Brees doing all of the Captain America activities, in order to make them more interesting. I did do that, actually! But I got sad to think of Drew Brees being so unhappy and having hallucinations, so I had to stop. I want him always to be happy. He has done so much for New Orleans. Why should he have to relive his terrible memories of watching his young partner being tortured by Nazis?

My second problem is that, in the four trade paperbacks I read — two volumes apiece of  The Winter Soldier and The Red Menace — the villains did an awful lot of not killing Captain America because that would be too kind. You may keep someone alive because you need their super-soldier DNA, or because you are planning to brainwash them into being evil using your super-powerful Cosmic Cube. You may also, upon achieving a victory that leaves their world in ruin, then gaze down at them contemptuously and refuse to kill them because it would be too kind. But if Plan A involves deliberately not neutralizing a person who is a clear threat to your evil plan, then I have a harder time thinking your villainy has teeth.

My third problem is that everything is a trap. Whenever Captain America and his SHIELD liaison, Sharon, get a lead on anything, they go haring off after the lead. Next thing you know, they’re surrounded by enemy combatants and they’re like, “They knew all along that we would come here!” The first time that happens, fine, you can’t win ’em all, the bad guys outsmarted you. After a while, for the love of God, Captain America, can you and Sharon put your heads together and come up with a scheme to get the drop on these guys?

In short, meh. Captain America is not for me.

  • Randon aka Captain Hammer

    You know, I actually don’t disagree with much of what you said. For me, I’ve rarely found a solo Cap run that I enjoy. Personally, I think he’s best when he’s the leader of an Avengers team. He adds complexity to a situation by asserting morals to people who often compromise theirs.

    • Gin Jenny

      Mmm, okay, I can see that. Any recommendations for how I can love him without shredding my heart by imagining it is Drew Brees going through all this sadness?

  • Ash

    I have no clue who anyone you are talking about here is, except for Captain America & Bucky and I think I like the concept of Cap more than you do but you kind of almost persuaded me to come over to the dark side and think that maybe he’s a little boring because this bit is so true – ‘In real life it is heartwarming, not dull, for someone to be all the time kind and good.’ (It’s a weird disconnect in fiction that probably says something about something?) All this to say that you have a magically sensible storytelling voice and I’d probably be just as interested in what you’d have to say even if you were to inexplicably switch to talking about something like shoelaces instead of books

    • Gin Jenny

      Hahahaha, aw, you are so sweet and kind! I will not switch to talking about shoelaces, as I find them markedly less interesting than books. :p

      There are a few authors I’ve encountered who are able to write kind and good characters in a way that’s interesting. But it’s odd to me that it should be so difficult. I know a lot of people who are unflinchingly honest and morally upright, and they are all very very interesting in real life!

  • I hear you on the villains thing. While I would never endorse villainy, if you are going to be villainous, don’t to a half-assed sloppy job of it.

    • Gin Jenny

      Exactly! Step up your game if you have to do evil!

  • You have broken my heart with your notion that Drewcap Breesmerica’s revivified brainwashed young partner would be Jimmy Graham. Not Uncle Jimbo!

    • Gin Jenny

      I know! How sad would that be? It would be the saddest ever.

  • Funny review 🙂 I don’t really love the Captain either, although the comparison to Drew Brees made me laugh a lot.

    • Gin Jenny

      Because it’s so true? Because you, too, recognize the ultimate sweetness and goodness of the loveliest quarterback in the league?

      (NB I am aware that your team possesses the loveliest running back in the league. Bless Adrian Peterson’s sweet humble heart.)

  • I don’t like Captain America either! Snooze-ville… But I do like Drew Brees AND Adrian Peterson. How about Drew Brees as Night Owl from The Watchmen? At least he’s kind of sexy in his geekiness instead of pompous like Cap.