Monday, September 21, 2009

Captain America (Vol. 3) #19

TITLE: Captain America (Vol. 3) #19


COVER DATE: July 1999


22 pages


Mark Waid and Captain America were like chocolate and peanut butter back in the latter half of the 90's. I still remember picking up issue #444 and being blown away. In fact, the only memory I have of Waid's Captain America run that is more vivid than that was hearing that he was off the book a year later to make way for the Heroes Reborn stunt. That's a discussion for another day, however, for Waid's run ended up affecting my collecting habits in three ways.

To start with, it was the first time that I actively became a Captain America solo title reader. The best Avengers books always had Cap in them, but for some reason that never prompted me to pick up his solo book. That all changed with this issue, and lasted up until the post 9-11 relaunch.

Secondly, it made me a Ron Garney fan for life. Yeah, I had enjoyed his work on the Midnight Sons side of the Marvel Universe previously, but this work was on a whole different level. It's just too bad that he's pencilling books I really don't care about these days, as I miss his stuff. Seriously, I'd kill to get him and Jason Aaron on anything other than another Wolverine book.

Thirdly, it cemented Mark Waid firmly into the category of trying anything new that he does. That's held true for the last ten years until just recently with him joining the post-Brand New Day Spider-Man universe. I hear good things, but I'm just not that big of a Spidey fan to invest in a whole new continuity.

Back to this issue then, four years later, and Mark Waid is back on the title after it's relaunched (again) after the Heroes Reborn story ran it's course. This issue has Andy Kubert on pencils, who stepped on board after Ron Garney left. I'd totally forgot that Andy Kubert had a nice run on this title, so I'm looking forward to seeing some of his pencils again.

The Kubert's work on DC recently has been so spotty that it seems like it's been ages since I've enjoyed their pencils. Hell, there was a time when you could pick up a Marvel book, and nine times out of ten it would be drawn by a Kubert!

Wow, that's a long pre-amble. I hope I didn't bore you too much with my stroll down Memory Lane. Let's stop pumping up Mark Waid's ego and check out the actual book itself, of which I remember surprisingly little of the plot.

Triumph Of The Will
  • Writer: Mark Waid
  • Penciler: Andy Kubert
  • Inker:Jesse Delperdang
  • Colorist: Greg Wright
  • Letterer: Todd Klein
  • Editors: Matt Idelson and Bobbie Chase
  • Editor in Chief: Bob Harras
Sharon Carter awakens to the reality that the Red Skull is now in possession of the Cosmic Cube. The Earth is doomed, as soon he will become unbeatable.

Thankfully, she also sees Captain America rise to stop him. He rushes forward, morphing his electroshield into a sword, raising it to strike the Red Skull.

Did I mention that this book is from the 90's? No? Then I guess the electroshield gave that away. Seriously though, Mark Waid made it work. In the hands of any other creator, it probably wouldn't have. It's just another case in point that there are indeed good books from this decade.

Sharon's not the only one watching these events unfold, as the Watcher stands in the shadows. He has urged Captain America to take down the Red Skull once and for all, and now that he's about to strike he lets out a smile.

The smile is short lived, as at the last moment Cap morphs the sword into a bo-staff. His strike glances off of the Red Skull's armor, allowing the Skull to fight back and sending Cap flying backwards.

He lands at the feet of the Watcher and Cap manages to surprise him for a second time by seeing through his disguise. That's right, it's not really the Watcher, but Korvac!

Korvac has been playing Captain America, tricking him into killing the Red Skull and siphoning off his cosmic cube infused power for himself. In a series of flashbacks into an alternate future we find out that Cap continues to hound Korvac, only to have Korvac continually reset the timeline whenever Cap gets close to defeating him.

Even books from 1999 can't escape the curse of 90's costume design asthetics! That's a nice Cap though.

During these constant battles, Cap tricks Korvac into going back in time to before the Skull attained the power cosmic in an attempt to get the power for himself. That's where we pick up the story in the present, with Korvac revealed and the Red Skull nigh omnipotent.

The Red Skull presses the advantage, forcing Korvac to flee to his ship in earth orbit with Cap and Sharon in tow. Korvac is ready to flee the solar system, but Cap calls his bluff and convinces him that he is Korvac's only hope against the Red Skull.

With the power of the cosmic cube now fully assimilated, the Red Skull takes the earth as his own. From the mountains to the oceans, it is all his...but there is still one thing that distracts him, and that is Captain America.

Now that he has become like a god, he can sense the deception that Captain America is planning on board Korvac's ship in orbit. One quick teleport later and he is on board the ship, spreading Korvac thin across six dimensions with the power of the cube.

He has come to finish off Captain America personally, for even though the Skull has won...Captain America has not lost completely and totally...yet.

Before he assimilates the knowledge contained in Korvac's ship, the Skull will take one more stab at ruining Captain America. He possesses the soul of Sharon Carter and forces her to fight Cap. For him to get to the Skull, he will have to kill the woman he loves.

Cap tries to go easy on Sharon, fighting mostly on the defensive, trying to break the hold that the Skull has on her. He finally does it by admitting that he loves her. She breaks the Skull's hold momentarily, and Cap takes the advantage with a haymaker punch that knocks her out cold.

It's all too late, however, as the Skull is now moments away from entering the data stream of Korvac's ship and assimilating all the knowledge contained therein. As he steps in, he's rudely awakened as Cap's true plan comes into light. It wasn't the data stream they were standing in front of after all, it was the anti-matter engine core.

Realizing the gig is up, the Red Skull decides to that if he is to die, he will take Captain America with him. Using the last of his power before he is disintegrated, he starts a chain reaction that begins to destroy the ship. In a desperate gambit, Cap jumps headfirst into the anti-matter core and grabs the cosmic cube that is left floating where the Red Skull was just moments ago.

Using the power of the cube, Cap wills himself and Sharon to safety on the earth. They arrive just in time to see Korvac's ship exploding in the sky. As he ponders if the Red Skull had the same idea and saved himself, Cap turns to Sharon only to see her disappear before his eyes.

The Red Skull has been defeated, but at what cost?


I really miss reading a good Mark Waid book. When he clicks with a character and a fellow creator, he makes some damn good comics. Captain America was one of those books. He really took Cap out of the craziness of the 90's and brought him into the world of modern storytelling. It's just a shame that his run got cut off early to make way for Leifeld and company. They tried to recapture the magic, but never quite got the old magic back.

Even though, this was still a pretty entertaining issue. Of course, it's hard to go wrong when you have Cap, the Red Skull, and the cosmic cube all in the mix together. The fact that Andy Kubert is on board to handle the pencils makes the loss of Ron Garney easier to take. They have complimentary styles that makes the transition seamless, but he has has a dynamism that is all his own.

In fact, I had such a good time reading this issue that I'm tempted to go back and reread Waid's entire run. That is something that definitely needs to be collected in a nice omnibus trade. I doubt it will ever happen as long as Brubaker keeps kicking ass on his version of Captain America, but until then I still have my single issues.

All characters should have such dilemmas...should I read the awesome, current version by Ed Brubaker or the seminal work done by Mark Waid. Decisions, decisions...

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) Marvel Comics

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