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Thursday, April 05, 2012 

Forbes sugarcoats Ed Brubaker's run on Capt. America

Forbes wrote about Ed Brubaker's visit to a comics store in Los Angeles, and the writer goes out of his way to paint a sugary take on Brubaker and his run on Captain America when he says:
[...] Ed Brubaker came aboard Captain America in 2005, and spent the next many years writing what is — and I don’t say this lightly — the greatest run of Captain America comics ever written, bar none. More than that, it is the best superhero comic book of the last 20 years. It’s impossible to say enough good things about this brilliant, beautiful many-years run, so I can only encourage you to pick it up if you’ve not had the pleasure of reading it yet.
I've actually had the pleasure of avoiding it, and reading some of the older, better stories instead, including Jack Kirby's Madbomb story from the mid-70s, written to coincide with the bicentennial anniversary of America's independence declaration in 1776. Why should I have to bother about a PC story like Brubaker's overrated story about the death of an icon that was clearly more intended to draw attention based on the death of Steve Rogers than one where he could, say, go after a nest of HYDRA terrorists? Just because the mainstream press was unlikely to offer any coverage to a story not about a superhero's death is no justification for such a downer.

Furthermore, I can't see any reason why I should have to waste much time on another of Brubaker's embarrassments, which was the attack on the Tea Party movements, something I notice they didn't mention here.

They go on to reference Brubaker's visit to Meltdown Comics in LA, and his involvement in Avengers vs. X-Men:
Anyway, on Monday night Ed Brubaker was there, talking about his work on the new Avengers vs. X-Men series and answering questions about his career, the future, and all manner of things related to comics. He explained that he and the other comic book writers working on the project gathered at Brian Michael Bendis’ home in Portland last year for what he called a “superhero summer camp.” Comparing the process to TV writers rooms, he said that ideas flew around and evolved as they broke the story down over and over, adding and changing elements as they plotted out the whole thing very far in advance.

Mr. Brubaker explained that he typically avoids the “big event” stories that comic publishers tend to roll out each year, and this is the first time he’s directly participated in such an event. He said his usual writing is much more grounded than the big superhero event story arcs tend to be, and the tie-ins complicate things and he prefers to do his own thing in the books he writes. But with AvX, he said, “It was the opportunity of working with my friends on something,” as well as “not having to write the whole thing.”

When he was asked what it says about the state of comics that they operate on the “big annual tent pole” mentality of having to depend on the big events to maintain readership, Brubaker noted that — obviously — movies operate on the same mentality, as does TV to some extent, and so it probably doesn’t say anything particularly new about comics or any other industry for that matter. The complaint about the use of “big events” is a common complaint, but he suggested maybe that’s just because the complainers are the ones who show up to voice their opinions more often, since obviously readership is up for comics overall.
Yes, obviously. This latest report shows that overall sales are down again, even for graphic novels, and this earlier chart looks pretty stagnant too. The complainers clearly have some influence, and with increasing prices, it's not like even new readers want to spend so much on more than 2 dozen books. Brubaker obviously doesn't want to acknowledge the elephant in the room.

And it's not true that this is the first time he's taken part in crafting an event comic either: a decade ago, he was one of the participants in the Bruce Wayne: Murderer? crossover and the subsequent Bruce Wayne: Fugitive storyline, which were pretty galling. It may be the first time Brubaker's worked on a Marvel crossover, but not the first time he's ever worked on an actual crossover. What this tells is that he clearly doesn't have courage to refuse to take part in something that only puts strain on wallets.
One of the things that surprised me in his remarks was when Brubaker said that during his famous Death of Captain America story arc, there was apparently some consideration of not bringing the character back, and at least delaying his return significantly. “There were even debates about whether we would bring him back.” Brubaker said. “When I originally was only gonna kill him for six months… and it was just so successful they kept saying, ‘You know, if you’ve got more stories, just keep it going.’ Then it was suddenly a year later, and Jeph Loeb was like, ‘Someone should put on a Captain America outfit,’ and I was like, ‘Hmm, I guess Bucky could become the new Captain America.’”
And what did they tell with Bucky that couldn't be told with Steve? Well, there was the one with Sharon Carter held hostage, tortured and her pregnancy terminated. That was a shock tactic we could very well do without, and another example of overly dark storytelling littering up the landscape. Any success they had with Steve's "death" was also pretty brief, as sales shrank back to stagnant numbers soon after the issue in which the supposed death took place. Besides, my beef here isn't whether they were going to bring Steve back or keep him dead, it's why they had to go out of their way to kill him in the first place, all for the sake of short-term sales. Something Brubaker's obviously not going to admit.

Brubaker's run on Captain America is way overlong, just like his pal Brian Bendis', and sadly, the biggest problem is that just like Bendis, Brubaker too is one of the favored insiders.

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I strongly disagree with you. Brubaker's run on Cap has been nothing but brilliant. I have to say, you over politicize everything in the comics and are too eager to label things as left wing and right wing. Who cares. its just comics. There is no conspiracy by comic publishers to turn us into pinkos.

Nobody ever said anything about a 'conspiracy.' They simply tend to be heavily left-leaning and it shows through in their writing. No one is claiming they're plotting this in some smoke-filled room.

Things people read affect how they view the world and in turn how they act. Doesn't matter if it's a college text or a humble medium like comic books. (People get their news from Jon Stewart for goodness' sake!) That's how society works. So, if someone doesn't like what's being written by a particular author/periodical, and feel that it is detrimental to what they believe, it's perfectly reasonable they point it out.

Brubaker, Fraction and their ilk are the ones who politicize comics. I just want to read a good superhero story without hearing people's opinions on anything. Why alienate potential customers who may not agree?

Blowing it a cultural trend off as 'conspiracy' is a sadly typical internet debate tactic, like calling people with concerns 'haters' or 'whiners' or fill-in-the-blank-'phobics.' To hell with the substance, just paint people as lunatics or crying children and you don't have to look at things in a reasoned manner.

I tend to agree with you that modern comics don't appeal to me as much as they used to in "the good old days". Decompression, irrational characterization, and the decimation of writers from the traditional superhero way of writing, etc have hurt the industry over the last ten years.

But not everything is crap. Examples of truly good comics (in my humble opinion) are Bru's Cap, DnA's cosmic stuff, Hickman's FF (even if it is not always comprehensible). Bottom line, this is not high literature. It's escapist pop culture, and my views of the world are not influenced by what I read in comics.

Obviously this is your website and it is not my place to tell you what to do, but by focusing almost exclusively on the negative, and ignoring the positive, I think you are missing a more balanced approach.

I wish I could say something more positive about both Marvel and DC, but they have done more than a considerable amount of things to frighten me away from their output, and their publishers/editors have made alienating statements and actions. When Quesada cut the marriage between Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson, that was just simply the last straw regarding Marvel's output. If they were to gain some ownership and staff that actually cared about working to bring things back to a situation where continuity and writing were back during the turn of the century, then I'm sure I could end up finding something more favorable to say. But clearly, that day is a long way off, if at all.

Basically I've gotten to the point where I've disregarded pretty much everything Marvel has produced since 2004 and have been focusing on the better comics of yesterday where they didn't focus on publicity stunts such as pointless character deaths and overpoliticized stories. Same with DC for the most part. Identity Crisis and Cry for Justice were the final straw for me there; they were both terrible. I personally don't think any of the current writers at either company are very good. Brubaker alienated me with his anti-Tea Party storyline, and Matt Fraction with his lame Iron Man storyline.

I would also like to see both companies come under the ownership of a smaller company, such as a book company, that might steer them back to where things were before Quesada and DiDio and all that.

Carl

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