Published on July 5th, 2012 | by Mike Harding0
Marvel Graphic Novel Collection Issue 14 Review
“In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, america must find a way to combat the insidious threat of terrorism. The country needs a great man to look up to. One who will fight for justice, and the best the United States can offer. That man is Steve Rogers AKA Captain America. But even with his enhanced body and unbreakable spirit, can Captain America find a way to lift the shadow of terrorism from the land of the free?”
That’s the official splurge for this weeks offering from the ultimate graphic novels collection. This week we find ourselves reading John Ney Rieber & John Cassaday’s Captain America: The New Deal. The book reprints the first six issues of volume four of Captain America. In 2001 Marvel ended its long running Captain America series, with the hopes of restarting it under the “Marvel Knights” imprint (thank god that didn’t happen), however, all these plans were changed on September 11th.
It seemed inevitable that Captain America would have to respond to September 11th. After all, the terrorist atrocities were an attack on the American way of life, and the iconic superhero was perhaps the hero best equipped to explore the scars left by the still-recent attacks upon the American psyche. After all back in Captain America #176 we saw the Secret Empire plot allowing him to respond to the Watergate Scandal.
Captain America has always, by its nature, been political. The cover to the first issue features Cap punching Hitler in the face, before the country even entered the Second World War. Of course, times are different, and such a direct political statement would not work today. If an issue opened with Captain America punching Osama Bin Laden in the face, people would have deemed it exploitative or in poor taste.
Now there are large parts of this review that will annoy certain people, and those people are probably going to be American. Without doubt Reiber’s first issue with Cassaday is perfectly written. The story is set around September 11th, the first two pages deal with the terrorists and their celebrations of the impending tragedy. The book does not show faces for these people and does not linger too much on the issue, and, to be honest, that’s not a bad thing. Anybody browsing classic Golden Age comic book collections or the website Superdickery will be well aware of the levels of racism of many of the books keen to jump on the patriotic bandwagon; by portraying America’s enemies as little more than savages – racial caricatures of Huns or stock Asian stereotypes
We then skip forward (not sure if its hours or a day) to the site of the world trade centre. This is where the story is well written, having Steve Rogers, not Captain America helping out at ground zero. Steve is suitably subdued and reflective in his interactions with various people, and lashes out at Nick Fury when he approaches him with a mission. Even the part of the mission that is in this book is well handled, everyone in a town has been taken hostage and by the time Cap arrives all he sees is empty streets and devastation. Now before I go any further I must mention the one moment in this issue, which whilst is possibly the cheesiest thing I have seen put to paper is a brilliant section of the story. Basically Steve encounters a young muslim boy walking home, and warns him that he should not be on the street, the boy gives a good reason why he should not be afraid and walks away, only to be attacked. Captain America then steps in and stops this event, berating the men attacking the muslim.
From then on it is Cap vs terrorism being inflicted on the United States. Terrorists launch an attack on the American heartland, a town aptly named Centerville, although Rieber then justifies it by claiming there’s a bomb factory nearby. “This is how you feed our baby?” a wife asks her husband. “With bombs? You make bombs?” The implication is clear: the husband is, somehow responsible for the chaos that has come to the small town. He can’t even defend himself properly, and ultimately mutters that he only makes parts. Whilst this is going on Cap makes his way through the town in true Die Hard fashion taking out terrorists one at a time.
What becomes interesting is that the story has a completely different layer, that is not about terrorism at all, it’s about a device that Nick Fury has tried to give Cap, that will monitor his lifeline. This device appears on the bodies of all the terrorists that Cap faces. We have a moment in which Cap falls from a dam clutching a burning American flag on the fourth of July, and then ultimately Cap confronting the man behind the mysterious devices.
Overall there are bits of this story that are brilliant, there are bits that are very cliche-ridden, but overall it is a book that will completely divide people. There will be those who feel that it is a good Captain America story, showing him doing what he does best. there are those who will see it as America showing how its spirit is unbroken after such a horrific attack, and then there are those who will feel that this is too political.
Personally I am in the first group of people, I also however, think that Ed Brubaker handled the terrorism theme far better. In an interview with Rieber, he admits, that when he wrote this story he was very angry, and that everyone involved in the book was behind him in his idea of where the story should go.
Value for money compared to other well-known websites?? Not that bad actually with most other hardback copies of this being priced at around 15-20 quid. Extra’s however for this book are rather poor. No previously bit, instead quotes by Rieber and Cassaday about september 11th. We have an interview with John Ney Rieber about the writing of the book and September 11th as a whole. We have an origin of Captain America, which is more of a publication history of the character, and finally the cover to Wizard Magazine #133, which was a special one year on from 9/11 issue. As mentioned in the review of Astonishing X-men: Gifted, there is still no article on the work of John Cassaday, so I can only assume that it means one will appear in the extras section of Astonishing X-men: Dangerous.
The recommended reads are strange, we have Captain America books, X-men (for Cassaday), and then Union Jack for some unknown reason. there are no future reveals as both of the books have already been released (Captain America: Winter Soldier & Astonishing X-men: Gifted). Captain America: The New Deal is book number 27 in the collection.
The next book to be released in the collection (next Wednesday as it took me a while to write this review) will be Kurt Busiek & Alex Ross’ Marvels, which at the time of its release was considered to be amazing, will it still hold up after all this time.
So with this book added, and no sneak peeks, that leaves the list now looking like this….
*Titles in BOLD have already been released*
Book 01: Iron Man: Demon in a bottle
Book 02: Uncanny X-men: Dark Phoenix
Book 03: Captain Britain: A Crooked World
Book 04: Wolverine
Book 05: The Mighty Thor: The Last Viking
Book 06: Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars part 1
Book 07: Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars part 2
Book 09: The Amazing Spider-Man: The Birth of Venom
Book 10: Spider-man: Kraven’s Last Hunt
Book 11: The Incredible Hulk: Silent Screams
Book 12: Wolverine: Weapon X
Book 13: Marvels
Book 14: Avengers: Avengers Forever Part one
Book 15: Avengers: Avengers Forever Part two
Book 16: The Mighty Thor: In Search of Gods
Book 21: Spider-man: Coming Home
Book 22: Spider-man: Revelations
Book 25: Spider-man: Blue
Book 26: Wolverine: Origins
Book 27: Captain America: The New Deal
Book 28: The Ultimates: Super-Human
Book 29: The Ultimates: Homeland Security
Book 36: Astonishing X-men: Gifted
Book 37: Astonishing X-men: Dangerous
Book 40: House of M
Book 43: Iron Man: Extremis
Book 44: Captain America: Winter Soldier
Book 45: The Incredible Hulk: Planet Hulk part 1
Book 46: The Incredible Hulk: Planet Hulk part 2
Book 47: Fantastic Four: The End
Book 50: Civil War
Book 51: Fallen Son: Death of Captain America
Book 52: Thor: Reborn
Book 53: The Eternals
Book 55: World War Hulk
Book 56: Thunderbolts: Faith in Monsters
Book 57: Wolverine: Old Man Logan
Book 59: Captain Britain & MI13:Vampire State
Book 60: Siege