August 23, 2009

Of Secret Empires and American Ideals

It's easy to forget that, in this modern post-Civil War/Secret Invasion/current Dark Reign Marvel universe, there once was a time when Marvel comics simply sped along. Instead of the current house "decompressed" style, Marvel comics were chock full of massive exposition, slam-bang action, and...well, attempts to meet current times head-on.

Imagine Captain America being considered a "traitor", with the police hounding him. Imagine a cabal that is working behind the scenes to discredit our hero - so much that the arc ends with the loss of our hero. Much in the same manner that Brubaker and Epting have given Captain America a post-9/11 espionage gloss, Steve Engelhart, Mike Frederich, and Sal Buscema explore similar themes around the time of Watergate in the Captain America & the Falcon: Secret Empire trade. (Which I purchased at ComicCon for $5, and may be more easily found in the discount section).

It's a shame, really, that Marvel did not put enough promotional juice behind this book during the Secret War...but again, the book does read like typical 70s Marvel, which means there may be too much story. In this arc, Englehart hits upon distrust of government, media manipulation through advertising, special interest groups (the main "villian" is a group whose name, when spelled out as an anagram, is CRAP). In addition, not only do we see Cap and Falcon, but we see Iron Man, the X-Men, and a mix of assorted characters. But somehow, even in a jaded 21st century world, we can see how Englehart is attempting to handle then-current events. It's an interesting mix, but well worth reading.

In short, I can see modern comics fans getting really impatient and feeling overloaded....but that was the joy of 1970s Marvel; not that it was over the top, but there was a feeling one got their money's worth.

Well worth checking out.

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