Friday, March 1, 2019

Stern and Byrne, nine amazing issues of Captain America

I recently decided to read a hefty chunk of Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America. But when I read about the different eras of Captain America, I discovered Roger Stern and John Byrne (both comic legends) had had a run from 1980 to 1981.

How did I not know about this? 

Well, to be fair, I was just really getting into comic books when they came out. And the two of them only worked on the series for nine issues, 247 to 255, which is barely any time at all. 

However, the fact that those nine issues are still remembered and revered says something.

So I sat down and I read those nine issues from a couple generations ago. And they are amazing. 

One of my complaints about Mark Gruenwald’s lengthy run is that Captain America doesn’t feel like a larger than life character, like a super hero. Not so in these nine issues. Captain America effortlessly breaks the laws of physics with his acrobatics and his shield slinging. And with him fighting foes like Dragon Man and Mr Hyde and Baron Blood, his feats are downright mythic. 

Reading them back to back, it’s hard not to compare Brubaker with Stern/Byrne. Brubaker tells the deeper, richer story with Captain America the soldier, the spy. Stern and Byrne tell the story of Captain America the Superhero. Brubaker is the better literature. Stern and Byrne are the better comic book.

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