By: James Asmus and Ed Brubaker (story), James Asmus (script), Francesco Francavilla (artist)

The Story: The first replacement Bucky, the one who took over with the replacement Cap in 1945, is an old man now, telling stories on the veteran circuit, when something from the past comes back to haunt him. Assemble the real Cap, the original Human Torch and the grandson of the first replacement Cap, each one with his own link to the mystery. The sleuthing is on.

The Review: I happen to be reading One Hundred Years of Solitude right now, with its cycling, psychological time, so what I noticed about this story right away is how much time is a subjective, psychological element. Between sentences and within sentences, the narrative toggled between time periods which blended past and present in a way that seemed almost surreal. It was quite a cool literary effect. I was drawn to replacement Bucky right away by the kind of humility, pain and uncertainty that oozes from his narrative and his memories. As an aside, this is also one of those rare books where there are actually a lot of words to read, mostly dialogue and all of it effective and natural. This makes the book experience longer, which, in this age, seems to be more value to me.

Artwise, I wasn’t at first sure what to make of Francavilla’s art. He’s a stylized visual storyteller and it took me a while to see how I felt about his art style married to this story. In the end, Francavilla’s style, which is quite suited to stirring a sense of nostalgia from the reader fit quite well with what Asmus and Brubaker were setting up. I think you can look through the entirety of this book, and notice sophisticated stylistic parallels to the crude energy of golden age art. Francavilla used this effect powerfully in the covers to the Fall of Barsoom titles by Dynamite as well, although there, he was drawing on the stylistic conventions of the pulps. Besides the clean, simple storytelling and Francavilla’s style, I enjoyed his choice of palettes (a lot of yellows, reminding the reader of sepia) as effective creative choices.

Conclusion: Billed as the launch of a new arc, Cap and Bucky #625 effectively is a good launch and a good place to start on this series. Some subtle, sophisticated art combined with a clever narrative structure pulls this book above the pack.

Grade: B

-DS Arsenault

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