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Captain America: Blood On The Moors

by Roger Stern & John Byrne

(Art by John Byrne and Josef Rubenstein)

A Marvel Pocket Book collecting issues of Captain America from the early 80s.  Celebrating 40 years of Steve Rogers' adventures, this book sees the shield-wielding Avenger face foes such as Dragon Man, Mr. Hyde and Batroc the Leaper as well as encounter enemies from his past like Baron Strucker and the vampire Baron Blood.  Also included is a 40th anniversary retelling of the Captain's origin story.

Most of this book is standard 80s comic book fayre, with Cap foiling plots involving robot duplicates and exlosive gas tankers, whilst simultaneously trying to juggle life with a secret identity.  The latter element provides one of the book's most surprising and amusing elements wherein it turns out that super-athletic, super-hunk superhero Steve Rogers is also working as a freelance artist on the side.  Wish fulfillment on the part of the comic book creators perhaps?

Representing the run-up to Captain America's 40th anniversary, this book also has a very retrospective feel about it, with themes like Cap exploring his recently rediscovered memories of his true childhood.  As mentioned above, there's also returns for old Cap foes added into the mix, two of which stand out.  Firstly, I was pleasantly surprised by the moral complexity of the otherwise ridiculous villain Batroc the Leaper and, secondly, I was fascinated to see Cap go toe to toe with a Nazi vampire.  The story involving the latter, Baron Blood (I know the name's ridiculous, but the book also references far dafter villains like Master Man or Asbestos Lady), also sees the return of Cap's WWII British ally Union Jack.

Overall, this isn't a remarkable book, but it has enough interesting elements to keep you turning the pages.

3 out of 5

 

Civil War: The Road To Civil War

by Brian Michael Bendis & J. Michael Straczynski

(Art by Alex Maleev, Mike McKone, Andy Lanning, Kev Walker, Cam Smith, Kris Justice, Ron Garney, Tyler Kirkham, Bill Reinhold, Jay Leisten and Sal Regla)

The prelude to Marvel Comics' big event storyline 'Civil War' by Mark Millar.  The book begins with Iron Man attempting to create a secret superhero organisation consisting of himself Doctor Strange, Professor X, Mr Fantastic, Black Bolt, Prince Namor and Black Panther.  However, Namor and Black Panther refuse on moral grounds.  Years later Iron Man regathers the group to discuss the immanent Superhero Registration Act. 

The first cracks of the civil war begin as Doctor Strange, Namor and Black Bolt fiercely refuse to endorse the act, whilst Iron Man and Mr Fantastic believe surrendering their civil liberties to the government is the only way to survive.  The story then splits to show Mr Fantastic rejoining the Fantastic Four to fight Doctor Doom, his recent decision weighing heavily on him.  Meanwhile, Iron Man AKA Tony Stark recruits Spider-Man as his aide, giving Peter Parker a hi-tech suit of spider-armour as a gift.  Together they travel to Washington in a futile effort to head off the Registration Act before it comes into force. 

The action in this book is incidental, be it the FF versus Doom or Spidey versus the Titanium Man, and does little to help the story.  The important battle here is security versus civil liberty.  Overall this book isn't great in and of itself, but it does nicely establish the background and the principles of the Civil War mega-event.  The board is set, the pieces are moving...

3 out of 5