Thursday, November 1, 2012
Wing-Head and the Dude
In four dense issues, this story showcases the Dude's meticulous, detail-heavy pencils much like Godstorm did- in homage to visionary artist Jack Kirby, designer of most of the Marvel Universe throughout the 1960s. Steve Rogers (Cap's civilian identity) is a lantern-jawed gent, whose clean-cut aura of naivete starts nearly as many brawls as his acrobatics finish. He drinks Mr. Pibb whenever possible, and always has an ear free for the half-dozen damsels orbiting him. Bikers and gangsters never fail to mistake him for a gift-wrapped milquetoast, attacking with the mindless fury of arena bulls.
While costumed (as a star-spangled dynamo), Rude's Captain America has the Kirby playbook memorized in every muscle. His kicks, somersaults and shield tosses rocket the narrative forward (though I often read the fight scenes circuitously, trapped in beautiful loops). Motion lines, intrusive when attempted by some artists, superbly accent Rude's action. It's also worth remembering that most "street level" heroes fight with a helpful gimmick: Spider-Man uses his spider-sense, Batman uses the shadows, Wolverine stabs people, etc. Captain America, more than any other fighter, is concentrating.
You or I might find that difficult, trapped in a world of Bruce Jones' fetishes. Making his name in the 70s horror scene, Jones found renewed fame writing The Incredible Hulk in the early 2000s. Now, I'd never read him before the Hulk. Under his guidance, it's a great thriller, reminiscent of the 70s TV show, with lots of momentum and intricate twists. But his endless portrayals of women as conniving she-devils become tough to ignore after, say, the fifth one.
What Price Glory? begins with a view into the bathroom of a blonde bombshell as she showers. A man named Sal enters in his wheelchair, and she says, "Letch," while posing with a towel. Nothing but innocent role-playing here, as we find that Sal (a Desert Storm veteran) and Kate are married, and it's his birthday. She kisses him, repeats enthusiastically that he's a letcher, and he replies, "Yeah... if only in spirit, right?"
Ah, what gateways to the magical comic books are! Only here can the action of a summer blockbuster meet the scintillating drama that Cinemax might show at 2AM. Soon, when Steve Rogers visits with some cake, Sal privately says to him, "You my friend, Steve? My buddy? You do anything for me? Then give me a real birthday present... make love to my wife!"
Pasha, meanwhile, is introduced alongside a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent named Tina, who's there to back Steve up in various secret capacities. Both women, naturally, are stunning, and require of Steve the utmost stoicism. This is an ubiquitous comic trope, whether the hero wears a flag or not. Unique to Bruce Jones' work, however, is that these women (Kate included) each lie to and manipulate the astoundingly upright star in service to a smutty, convoluted plot.
Most comics addressing 9/11 came out within a year of the tragedy. What Price Glory? was a weekly release in May of 2003. To me, ending a romp fueled by poker chips and bikinis with ghostly towers seems rather expensive.