Captain America: What Price Glory?
series review by Mike Baron

Captain America: What Price Glory?
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artists: Steve Rude (pencils) and Mike Royer (inks)
Publisher: Marvel Comics, $2.99 each, 4-issue series shipping weekly

In terms of impact on the Marvel Universe, this is a "small" story. No super-villains, no earth-threatening menace, just a mystery about mobsters vying for a young woman's affection. Bruce Jones spins his tale over four issues like a novelist, eschewing the handy tricks used by most comic book writers, relying on good characterization, realistic dialogue, and a decent mystery. In Brooklyn, Steve Rogers visits his pal Sal, confined to a wheelchair since being shot in the back by friendly fire during the Gulf War. Although this seems incidental to the story, it is in fact integral. Cap agrees to free the beautiful young Pasha from Spano (modeled after Clark Gable,) a Las Vegas mobster whom Cap mistakenly assumes is Pasha's lover. Cap falls in love with her. Wiser heads may question the rapidity with which this happens, but there's no denying that it works.

In Vegas, rival factions are building two halves of a theme park, one featuring Captain America, the other the Red Skull. The giant statues provide Steve Rude the excuse he needs to drive head first into Kirbyville. Not that the Dude needs an excuse. He has always been influenced by Kirby. But where Kirby really couldn't draw a realistic human figure, the Dude is a master. What we get here are Kirby-esque stances, expressions and lay-outs melded with superior drawing ability. The Dude's attention to story detail-not fussy detail, but the little bits that actually add to the story-is without peer. Take the brownstone he has created for Sal. Most artists would draw a rectangle on a wall and call it a door. This brownstone has styling, dimension, and charm, and although used sparingly, provides a bedrock sense of place.

There are some jarring elements. Jones places Las Vegas on the ocean so he can have yacht scenes. In the final scene, Cap and friend are gazing at Ground Zero from the top of the Empire State Building at dusk. The sun appears to be rising in the East. And inexplicably, Dude only provided cover art for the first book. The subsequent covers, by an artist whose signature I can't read, are colorful and impressive but seem to belong to another story.

Mike Baron is the creator of the award winning comic book Nexus and during his career has written an enormous variety of comics from The Flash to The Punisher. His first novel, Witchblade Demons has just been published and he is currently writing the Kiss comic for Dark Horse Comics.

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