By: Ed Brubaker (writer), Alan Davis (penciler), Mark Farmer (inker), Laura Martin (colorist)

The Story: Powerless, Part 3: Cap and Sharon manage to eke out a victory in a tough fight with the Serpent Squad only for Cap to lose his powers once again. Why? Who’s behind this? Sharon has one theory and the investigation leads her to the Machinesmith. In the meantime, the Hydra Queen makes several moves. It’s all going pear-shaped.

The Review: I have been a big Davis/Farmer fan since the 80s and absolutely loved them here. Davis is at once a master of draftsmanship, with elegant, detailed faces with close-up texturing. At the same time, he knows his way around a superhero fight, with varied panel structures and camera angles, with quicker and more stylized shapes to focus the reader’s eye on the dynamism as opposed to the detail. A great example of this is on the first page. Cap as the center of the action has the most detail, but it is clearly the composition doing the work here. Check out the stances and angles, the V-shape made by Cap’s leg with the Eel’s, the detail-free Sharon in an uber-energetic Kirby-esque pose. The page radiates energy. Then in the next couple of pages, the close-ups of Cap and Sharon’s faces are wonderfully detailed, emotive and lifelike, in the way a Neal Adams face comes alive. The other artistic roots I felt while reading this book was Mike Zeck. Zeck defined the Captain America for several years and I almost felt Zeck’s great style being channeled in this book, but better.

Storywise, it’s hard to go wrong with Brubaker. His name on the top of the credits virtually guarantees that you’ll be treated as an intelligent reader. Moreover, he’s so good at the thriller and the espionage motifs, which are so much a part of Cap’s WWII and cold-war mythos, that the intrigue and layered mystery pulls the story towards a climax you know is going to be good. The dialogue is crisp and believable (insofar as some villains have to have a bit of an over-the-top style to them) and the plot twists are great. I loved the Cobra interrogation scene and Sharon’s next steps, and I was eating up the Hydra Queen moves.

Conclusion: It’s a rare book that fires on all cylinders: plot, theme, pacing, words, pencils, inks and color; but this one is firing on all of them. This is a solid team on a solid title. Check it out.

Grade: A-

-DS Arsenault

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