The Phenomenal Sire had the pick for new comics shipping September 15th and he selected Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier #3 by Ed Brubaker and Dale Eaglesham.
The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse's News Stand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate.
From time to time, the Review Group will go back and revisit a series we have previously reviewed. Considering the number of times we've Reviewed a Bendis Avengers book or an issue of Batman or Amazing Spider-Man, it seems almost Criminal how rarely we review issues of Ed Brubaker's Captain America. Sire being the stand up guy that he is did his part to rectify this oversite when he picked Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier #3. Now that Steve Rogers is no longer unstuck in time, how will the Review Group respond to being dropped into the middle of his current mini-series?
Review by Victorian Squid
This miniseries brings back one of my favorite Cap villains from one of my favorite arcs as a young reader, but until that was revealed (in issue #2 I think) the book didn't particularly interest me. Once I knew who the bad guy was though, I went back and read the first two issues and found it a solid read. If you liked the first two, you'll like this issue. It's another sturdy but ultimately unexceptional offering, with typical plot holes you can only get away with in comic books and 007 movies--such as why the villain would leave Rogers in the lab complex with the Vita Ray machine ready to go and go to fly off to who knows where. Machinesmith is a villain with a lot of potential and he's too smart for lazy plotlines. I expect more because Ed Brubaker is the writer, and used to blow me with his early Cap run. This is late Cap run-type of okay but not great.
It's almost a joke in itself to see Dale Eaglesham drawing a scrawny Steve Rogers--or anybody, for that matter--and I like his artwork here with a couple minor issues with his figures and lack of sublety with facial detail in some panels. The colorist's work is another matter entirely, however. I don't think the shading effects or background colors were done well at all and in one scene he actually seems to forget one of Steve's assailants is a dark-skinned African-American thug and uses the same tones for him as Steve, a pale caucasian. Steve seems to literally shoot the black off of him. :lol: It's so obviously wrong that associate ed Lauren Sankovitch and editor Tom Brevoort deserve a share of the blame along with colorist Andy Troy.
And my only other complaint is how much time is spent fighting beefy thugs who seem to be otherwise unexceptional fighters--I would think Machinesmith would have some competent robots or something, although the end of this issue might be foreshadowing a darker role for the mechanical Mrs Erskine to come in the concluding chapter. Still, I want more Machinesmith, dammit!
I'd give it an 8, but I deduct a point for the coloring snafu so,
Review by 48THRiLLS
I have been really enjoying this mini so far and after reading this issue I now wish it was an ongoing, I would have no problem buying this along with the Bucky-Cap ongoing. We last ended with Steve being reverted to his 98 pound weakling form and here we get a glimpse of him being bullied as a kid and then him and his 98 pound bad self beating down the super solder serum enhanced goons, the inner dialogue while he was taking them apart was pretty cool... I mean it was nothing you didn't know or see coming but I like the reiteration that it isn't just the serum that makes Steve Rogers who he is (which is the best trained combat fighter in the world 8) ). The Machinesmith is probably one of the goofiest villains I have seen but Brubaker manages to almost make him not as goofy... it does makes for a fun comic and the art is absolutely beautiful. Eagelsham not only draws a perfect Steve Rogers, he does a great job with the Super Soldier Serum-less version also and I really thought the flashback panels were very well done, especially the colors. I am looking forward to the concluding next issue to see what happens with Steve and his new robotic sidekick. Like I said before... I wish this would be turned into an ongoing, not having Steve Rogers headlining a book of his own is a super bummer.
My only nit pick is how his magic shield works. Could he not use it when he was reverted? How does the damn thing work anyway, I don't remember seeing an explanation in this book or any other Cap/Avenger books... not a big deal I just am curious I guess.
STORY - 9
ART - 10
OVERALL - 9.5
Review by thefourthman
There is expert storytelling here for sure. The juxtaposition between Steve's past and his present is handled with great skill and creates a fantastic read. It's compelling and interesting.
Here's the thing though... first of all, I don't buy Steve's ability. Sure training is a factor, but the sudden removal of weight and muscle would not only disorient him but cause massive problems with his abilities. I would have to assume that things would be very similar to severe atrophy at that point. It's the kind of thing that hurts suspension of disbelief – no longer do I believe what could be going on. And it's a hard thing to point to, because it is possible that Rogers could take the bad guys by surprise, I just don't believe that the stamina needed would exist in the situation.
It's a nitpick for sure, but one that hurt my enjoyment of an otherwise solid issue.
The art is another matter. Machinesmith is meant to be creepy with his head turning around and the limbs and head extending like Inspector Gadget. It's not though, some of it is being desensitized... some of it is Eaglesham. He is a quality artist. He has a strong narrative sense. However, since his work on Fantastic Four there is some weirdness to it, especially once Steve is back to his full Super Soldier strength, he ends up looking like he is Captain America on steroids. This is especially odd given the way Rogers views the monsters that Machinesmith has created.
It's an odd book that is amazing in its strengths and held back by its weaknesses. In the end, it's a wash and as much as it pains me, an average book – even with its creative pedigree.
Review by Daringd
I dug the new issue, I'd love to see this as a ongoing but....
Review by starlord
Me like this! Me think art good! Me want more! Me love Machinesmith! Me miss Mark Waid. Me think Alex Ross perfect writer for this mini-series.
Me just read Essential Hulk #2.
Me leaving now.
Me Score: 8.50
Review by Stephen Day
I love Machinesmith, having this character as the main villain gave this issue the same feeling I remember from back in the day reading a really well written Mark Gruenwald story. I personally consider that to be a high compliment. In the conversation between Machinesmith and Rogers, artist Dale Eaglesham fully utilized the stranger aspects of the villain's anatomy. Its always fun to see Machinesmith with arms and head extended and Eaglesham obviously realizes this and gave me exactly what I wanted.
The best part of this issue was the fight between Rogers and the two Super Soldier Serum powered thugs. The fight itself wasn't anything special, but Brubaker smartly juxtaposed it with panels of a young Steve Rogers in a fight with a bunch of kids in the 30s. The point of this is very clear -- Steve Rogers, the man, is more than just the Super Soldier Serum. The result is a fight that is elevated well beyond where it would have been without the 30s panels.
My only problem, with this issue is the character of Anita. The writing around her I've found to be a little flat and after three issues I still can't say I care anything about her. She's an important plot point, but not a character I care to read about. Its such a minor compliant that covers a total of five pages of this issue, so its nothing that even came close to ruining my enjoyment.
8 out of 10
Review by The Phenomenal Sire
Steve Rogers may not be Captain America anymore but he is still a Super Solider. And its not because of no serum. Machinesmith may have deactivated the super solider serum in his blood but Steve is Jack Bauer level bad ass. someone said that they would read a Steve Rogers ongoing, and I totally agree. Steve Rogers is far more interesting when he is out of the uniform, he can stop just being Captain America World War II hero, and he gets to be Steve Rogers. This was also my first exposure to machinesmith, and I very much want a series where we could see Steve go up against some of his classic foes that haven't been seen in years. Eaglesham art was fantastic as usual. He very much fits for Steve. artists have it very easy with me, I can't draw worth a darn so I immidately respect that they can. if the art fits and allows me to flow through the story and almost forget I am turning the page and reading a comic, a job well done.
Overall - 8
Review by Jude Terror
I don't want to repeat just repeat the things I said about this book in my review of issue #1, but I continue to love it for the reasons I loved that issue. Brubaker really shows here why his Captain America run is so beloved, even if he isn't really delivering in the current issues with Bucky Cap. This issue touches on all the aspects of Steve's character that make him who he is. We see his past as a scrawny weekling. We see his unwavering sense of do-goodism. We see his compassion, even for a robot. We see that it isn't the serum that makes him an ass-kicking machine - it' that 'hero' quality inside him. And much to Brubaker's credit, we don't see these things as part of a fawning narration or worse, worship dialog from 'lesser' characters DC style. We see it in in Steve's own actions throughout the issue.
I've even grown to love some of things I was unsure of in the first issue. The whole plot to involve Steve in this seemed a little bit ridiculous at first, but after Machinesmith's bragging, it's clear that this instead an example of the flawed logic that only a supervillain could muster. This alone wins big points for this series, because in an age where comics strive far too hard to be screenplays or allegorical masterpieces, this book is not afraid to just be a good, old-fashioned comic.
This brings me to the art. I was just complaining this week about the dark, muddy colors in comics these days, but I'm happy to say this book is bright and vibrant. Eaglesham's art is a fine example of superhero art. It's realistic enough to feel mature and modern, while remaining iconic enough to harken back to the classic comic book look of the seventies and eighties. Often, today, an artist having a 'style' means obvious flaws repeated over and over (see JRJr), but Eaglesham gets it right.
A fulfilling read for longtime fans that is also basic enough to be a good choice for new readers. This is one of those books that serves as a counter to your Deadpool #1000s in reminding me why I love Marvel.
Excuse any typos as I did this whole review from my phone.
Review by Frag It
I'm actually really digging this series.
Bru really knows how to craft a spy story and the suspense builds up nicely. I liked that the serum was deactivated.
The art is kind of shitty, especially the covers.
Review by Punchy
Story - Superheroes are, on the whole, a very cliched genre. In every issue you'll find one or two cliches present, whether it's being used straight, or deconstructed, the world of capes and tights is based on a mountain of cliches.
But that's not necessarily a bad thing, there's a reason many recurring story ideas have become cliches, it's because they're good ideas. And one of my most favourite of all cliches is the one where a hero is stripped of his powers, but manages to use unexpected abilities to save the day, thus proving the true worth of a hero is not in strength, but in spirit! Ahem. Like when Iron Man has his armour disabled, but he uses his massive brains, or when Superman is all Red Kryptonite'd, but he uses his innate goodness. That stuff.
As such, this third instalment of Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier is perfect for me. Steve is a captive of the evil Machinesmith, and has had the Super-Soldier Serum removed from his body, leaving him a helpless 4F weakling.
Or not, as even without his magic steroids, Steve is still the best fighter in the Marvel Universe (give or take an Iron Fist), and is capable of using his brain to take out the brawn of the fake Super-Soldiers. It's never been outright stated why exactly Steve is the only guy the Serum worked on properly, but I suspect it may be this reason, his character. I liked the way Brubaker compared this fight here, with Steve's youth in 1930s Brooklyn, it added character to what would just be a normal fight scene.
The rest of the issue is a pleasing espionage romp, it's a little lighter and faster-paced than Brubaker's normal Captain America work, and Machinesmith isn't a threat on the level of the Red Skull or Baron Zemo, but it's still a good time. The character who's a robot who thinks she's a woman is certainly tragic and does add depth here. Following Bucky as Captain America may be enjoyable, but I have missed Ed Brubaker's take on Steve Rogers, and this makes an good companion series to both Captain America and Secret Avengers. It's not essential, but it uses the cliches of superhero and espionage comics to strong effects, and I'm certainly looking forward to Part 4, and would welcome more Steve Rogers adventures.
Art - Dale Eaglesham is an artist who caused a bit of a controversy when is take on Reed Richards was deemed to be too muscular, so he's a good choice for this book, where he has to draw a super-skinny dude taking on super-hench, um, henchmen. The exaggerated muscles add an extra level to this story about what is basically a super-steroid. Captain America is the ultimate square-jawed hero, and Dale Eaglesham is the perfect square-jawed artist, if he's not returning to the FF, I'd like to see him carry on working on these characters in the Captain America book.
Best Line - 'Skills Matter'
Review by Eli Katz
The story of the depowered hero bores me. It has been, as Punchy astutely notes, a mainstay of superhero comics since the very beginning. Off the top of my head, I can think of several Spider-Man comics where Spidey momentarily loses his powers: ASM #12, where Pete has the flu and, in a weakened state, is unmasked my Doc Ock; ASM #87, where again Pete suffers the flu and sees his powers fade; and ASM #98, where Goblin sprays Spidey with a gas that robs him of his sticking powers. I'm sure there are many other instances, involving many other heroes, but these three are the ones I remember most vividly.
Now, I understand that superhero stories are today's modern myths, and that part of their charm is how they recycle, revamp, and rework old concepts and ideas. And so, at a very basic level, there is something fun about seeing Steve Rogers suddenly lose his super strength and go into battle as a weakling. But because I've read too many superhero stories already, and have zero interest in reading anymore of these unless they do something new and interesting, I can't recommend STEVE ROGERS: SUPER SOLDIER #3. It does an adequate job of being a superhero comic, but it fails to explore new territory and wow my imagination. In other words, it simply reinforces why I no longer read cape books on a regular basis: I've read all the possible Big Two storylines and plot twists years ago, and the new stuff is just an overpriced, brightly colored version of the old stuff.
Review by SilverPhoenix
Can a 98 pound weakling stand up against the forces of evil? Well, that depends on that 98 pound weakling is, along with the reader's ability to buy into what is happening through either suspension of disbelief, or acceptance that ingrained knowledge is enough to win the day.
What is the true Measure of a Man? Where does one begin to define this statement? Is a man measured in his physical strength? Is he measured in his intelligence? Is he measured in his deeds? Is he measured in his personality? Is he measured in his ability to be an asset to his community? Or is he measured by something else altogether or even yet, is he measured by a combination of things? This is a question that I feel was the central underlying theme in the story being told in Steve Rogers: Super Soldier #3, which puts its main character into a situation that gives us the answer as to how he is measured as man.
At first glance one might be asking why Steve Rogers is involved with this question, at all. It should be very easy to see what kind of man Steve Rogers is. He not only stepped up to fight World War II when his body wouldn't enable him to do so, but even after that war was over, his adventures would inspire many others to be better people. His leadership and training would give the Marvel Universe that many more capable heroes. His courage would become the stuff of legend in the face of impossible odds. With those three things alone, it should quite easy to see what kind of man he is. However, for all of his gifts, what happens when you take away the very thing that allows him to become an army of one? Well, that's a question that the creative team explores in this issue. How does the answer hold up in this reviewer's eyes? It holds up extremely well, but he sees where people could have issues with it.
The story itself begins with Steve Rogers recalling what it was like to live in Depression Era New York City, in his state. Not surprisingly we learn that Steve Rogers dealt with not just helplessness, but with being the punching bag of kids who were exceptionally cruel due to the times they all lived in. From there we not only get to see a defiant Steve Rogers, but a very determined and resourceful Steve Rogers, who puts uses his skills to the utmost limit, and shows that he's not only more than just the Shield and Cowl, he's more that the process that made him the Super Soldier. As a written piece Brubaker gives us yet another winner, as the whole entire issue is a masterfully told character piece, which has become a defining trademark of Brubaker's Superhero writing, a formula that's adaptable enough to work almost anywhere, as shown in this comic.
The art itself is mostly good stuff, as Dale Eaglesham and Andy Troy work together really well to bring this story to life. The characters are well drawn, the colors are appropriate for the setting, and the depression era stuff really stands out, as the use of a dimmer color set helps to break up the action. It also helps that it the transitions between the 30's and the present day are all done in a seemless manner. It's not all positive though, as there is one place where the reviewer feels that the art does not hold up, and that's with the drawing of Steve Rogers as a Vita-Ray deprived man. At some point Steve is drawn as how you would imagine him as a 98 pound-weaking, and at other points he is seemingly drawn with a lot more muscle, with little to explain it. It wouldn't be so jarring of weakness, if it wasn't connected with an issue that may break this book for some.
Now, no one should be surprised that Steve Rogers ends up besting his captives. Thugs in comics are hardly a serious threat, especially when you're as skilled as him. However, some people are going to have problems with how he does it. Now, as someone who does have Black Belt in a Marital Art (only stopped due to monetary issues), I can see that someone who has trained with the ferocity and the dedication that Steve Rogers has to have enough physical strength and muscle memory for well aimed and timed moves that go for certain parts of the body that would disable his opponents long enough to think of his next move. (Not to mention that with that training, he wouldn't be your standard 98 pound weakling,) However, I can see where someone wouldn't buy this at face value, which would justifiably affect their enjoyment.
In spite of those issues, however, this is still a solid comic book, which is propped up by Brubaker's narrative, and the stand-up work of Eaglesham and Troy. At the end of the day, this is another limited series being written for a trade pay-day, but it is still a solid read which will be enjoyed by Steve Rogers and Action fans alike.
Writing **** (8 out of 10): Brubaker knows how to tell a story, and it shows in this book. It is a great look for anyone who thinks that Steve is just a Serum that gives him big muscles. However, some aren't going to like how the fight scene played out, which is completely understandable.
Art: ***1/4 (6.5 out of 10): A good effort by the art team pays off here. Despite some miscues with Steve, the art is still more than serviceable, and adds to the story that Brubaker is telling.
Accessibility: ***1/2 (7 out of 10): The recap provides you with what you need to know as far as the story goes if you haven't been following, so you won't be totally lost out there. Saving this score, immensely.
Final Judgment: ***3/4 (7.5 out of 10)
Review by guitarsmashley
Wow, that was really bad. Very by the numbers and overdrawn horribly. I saw the Steve the trained soldier thing before it even happened. I expected better from Bru.
Review by John Snow
I love Ed Brubaker's Cap. I can honestly say that in the last 5+ years there hasn't been a single issue of his run that I haven't enjoyed. The characters, the stories, the tone... it all just clicks perfectly for me. It doesn't really matter what the title of this book is, to me it's a Brubaker Cap comic and just like every other Brubaker Cap comic it thoroughly kicks ass. It's great to be able to read a comic with Steve being Steve, it kind of makes me feel like all is right with the world. It doesn't matter if he's wearing a Cap costume or not.
Dale Eaglesham is a freaking beast. When the day comes that Steve is the lead in the Captain America book again, I hope Eaglesham will be the regular artist. Great storytelling. Beautiful aesthetics.
That gives Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier #3 a group score of 7.66. There goes Yoni, dragging down the group score. Feels like old times! Take away Mr. Grumpypants and SR:SS is an 8+ book!
For what McKegan calls "all the geeky, bitchy arguing about comics you'd expect from a comic message board condensed into absolute awesomeness", check out our thread for this issue and post your own review in The News Stand forum.
Our Nemesis #3 week is well underway. Join us in our current thread in The News Stand forum to join in on the fun!
WRITER: Mark Millar
PENCILS: Steve McNiven
Don't worry, everyone. Nemesis has been captured and put in the highest security prison that America has to offer. Problem solved. Series over. What's that? It's only issue three? Uh-Oh! More shocking twists and turns from the masters of modern comic-book awesomeness Mark Millar (KICKASS, CIVIL WAR) and Steve McNiven (WOLVERINE: OLD MAN LOGAN, CIVIL WAR). Mature Content $2.99
Written or Contributed by: John Snow