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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 193: Captain America (volume 4) #2

Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from Captain America (volume 4, according to the indicia, although I don’t know if Marvel counts the 1940s iteration) #2, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated July 2002. Enjoy!

Remember when Cassaday actually drew interiors? Good times!

This is the second issue of John Ney Rieber’s wildly controversial “Captain America fights terrorists” arc, which I bought solely for John Cassaday’s artwork and didn’t really enjoy too much. Doesn’t Cap kill the terrorist at the end, and that made everyone go a bit squirrelly? Chime in – it’s been years since I’ve read this, and the Internet is no help whatsoever. Fancy that!

Anyway, Rieber is awfully earnest on this page, isn’t he? “Terror’s not a four-dollar knife. Or an envelope of powdered death.” Man, that’s something, isn’t it? I’m not sure who, after 11 September 2001, thought that terror was anything but “blind hate,” but Rieber wants to make it clear that, yes, it is. The first panel makes no sense, as the narrator implores the person to “sleep … while you can” even though it’s clear that the young lady is already awake, but we do get the nice turn of phrase with the newspaper “lying” on the front porch, “lying” about terror. See how you can turn a clever phrase if you know that the correct word is “lying” instead of “laying”? English is just awesome that way.

Cassaday, for me, is the real draw, because Rieber is unrelenting like this with the verbiage throughout this arc. Cassaday (along with everyone’s favorite colorist, Mr. Dave Stewart) does a fine job with this page. In Panel 1, the words on the left begin to move us over to the right, where the woman is silhouetted in the window. If you think it’s accidental that she’s framed by a warm glow of a morning sun, implying goodness, before the black-clad terrorist grabs her, well, you should probably think again! Panel 2 is a nice, simple image – it’s both mundane and cleverly done, point-of-view-wise, as we get a bisected panel that adds a tiny bit of excitement to a drawing of a woman leaning on her elbows watching a coffee pot fill with water. It’s a well-balanced panel, as well, which is always interesting. Rieber brings up the newspaper, so of course Cassaday has to show the woman reaching for it, as this also allows the movement of Panels 3 and 4 to be more obvious – in the static images, she’s not moving, but because we see part of her bending over in Panel 3, the backward tug in Panel 4 feels more violent – we fill in the blanks, which we may not have done had Cassaday not shown her bending over. Despite the fact that Panel 3 feels a bit gratuitous, it does serve a purpose, making Panel 4 more unexpected and sudden. Panel 5 is done well, too – the narration is closest to the bad guy, so the “burning in a stranger’s eyes” is linked very nicely to the first thing we see, which is the stranger’s eye. Cassaday keeps the eye of the bad guy on the same plane as the eyes of his victim, so that even though they’re not looking into each other’s eyes, the reader can link the two of them and compare the calmness in the bad guy’s eye and the fear in the woman’s eyes. The shadow cuts across the woman’s face and places the terrorist in complete darkness, visually finishing the panel and the page. Of course, the woman is looking the “wrong” way to lead us to the next page, but her placement on the right side of the panel means that we finish there, while the hand of the bad guy helps move us over. We don’t see what happens to her on the next page, because we go right to Cap talking to Nick Fury, but we can certainly infer what’s going to happen to her.

There’s not really a lot to write about this page, because it really does suffer from the decompression style of modern comics. Rieber doesn’t really give us any useful information, while Cassaday does manage to tell a decent story on one page that’s ultimately pointless, as Nick gives Cap the run-down on the very next few pages. It’s a pretty page, and if you’re just picking this up and wonder if you should keep reading, I don’t think there’s anything here that will keep you from it, but that doesn’t change the fact that we don’t really learn too much about the story arc from this page, and ultimately, it’s kind of a waste. Such is the way the world works, though, isn’t it?

Next: Another of Bill Reed’s favorites! Can the world handle so many??? Find another of his favorites buried in the archives!


Most of Captain America volume 4 was a mess, decompression being the least of its problems. More of a stumbling block were the last-minute rewrites. I think Reyber’s second and third arcs both were finished up by someone else.

I had *huge* problems with the whole “Cap doesn’t kill” argument that writers kept trotting out in a clumsy attempt to address the moral complexity of combatting terrorism. Yes, Steve Rogers is *not* the Punisher. But Cap fought in World War II, he and Bucky killed Nazis when they had to. Cap does not like using lethal force, but if he has to as an absolute last resort, he will.

Isn’t Cassady drawing interiors again with the upcoming Uncanny Avengers in October?

John Ney Reiber is one of those Nu-Marvel names I totally forgot about. I remember that great time of experimentation where we got all these lesser known comic writers and writers from outside of comicdom at Marvel and they were allowed to run free and do what they wanted within reason. Unfortunately Reiber on Captain America was one of the misfires from what I read of it. I only gave it two issues, I don’t know how long his run was or if he turned it around and got better near the end of it.

Those stories were too much ‘political’ , written just after 9/11 , and with no ‘recul’

Rieber did good things on books of magic for DC ( before Cap America)

the next arc were finished / re-wwritten buy some unknown guy named Chuck Austen .. and they were more interesting than the rieber’s written.

“the next arc were finished / re-wwritten buy some unknown guy named Chuck Austen”

That’s a joke, right?

…I was going to say more, but I’m not going near that can of worms.

Have a good day.
G Morrow

Travis Pelkie

July 11, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Was Cassaday doing Planetary at the same time? Because damn, this arc is all about “real world” people (in a comic book universe, granted), and Planetary is all that awesome SF stuff. Damn, Cassaday’s good.

I just recently reread my Cap stuff, and I have issues…4 and 5 of this volume, I think? Cap reveals his ID to the world, saying that he killed the terrorists, not the US (I think. I’ve already lost the details…).

I think this suffers from being so close after 9/11 — shit, it had to have been written IMMEDIATELY after, and the notion of a 9/11 happening in the Marvel U (in a world where these type of things happen…often) just doesn’t make sense.

But to have a character like Cap NOT react to 9/11 would be wrong as well. It’s just that in a shared universe, it doesn’t work well.

But yeah, Cap really needed Bru coming in when he did. Such a damn good run.

I checked the Marvel Captain America collection DVD (every issue from Tales of Suspense through to his death) and they don’t count the ’40s or ’50s stuff for volume purposes. Captain America vol. 1 is equivalent to Tales of Suspense.

I remember that a lot of right-wingers hated these comics. I don’t really understand why, since it’s pretty clear that terrorism is portrayed as bad, terrorists are bad, and Cap fights the terrorists because they’re bad. Hardly a radical stance.

T.: I think so. I certainly hope he does interiors again!

Travis: Yeah, Cassaday was doing both books at this time. Of course, Planetary came out so infrequently that he could do both of them, but that’s a good point about his versatility.

Neil: I remember that too. I suppose I could find out what they objected to, but I think it had something to do with Cap saying the terrorist actualy had a grievance or something with America even though he was totally evil. I don’t know – the reason I don’t like the arc is because it wasn’t very good!

I think there was something in it about how thousands of German civilians were killed in Allied air raids during World War II, or something, and Rieber was trying to show the grey morality of war. Or something like that. It’s been years and years since I’ve looked at those issues. I do recall things got more insane when Cuck Austen (thanks for the reminder, ollieno) took over, and there was this story suggesting that the U.S. government had actually put Cap into suspended animation at the end of the war because he was opposed to dropping the Atom Bomb on Japan. But then the whole thing turned out to (probably) be an attempt by the Red Skull to screw with Cap’s head. It was pretty confusing.

I like the film captain america,and i like the cosplay costume more.How about this coat?

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