EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s Wednesday, so let’s slip one more review in before the comic stores open with this week’s books. And this review contains spoilers. But it’s no big deal, because the spoilers in this review have already been spoiled. And sacked. Oh wait, I’m American – I meant teabagged. Whatever. Anyway…
Life Model Decoys are android body doubles that are sold to S.H.I.E.L.D. by Stark Enterprises. Which is owned by Tony Stark. Who is Iron Man. And would presumably recognize one of his products. Particularly when wearing his Iron Man armor, which is all sensory and shit.
So when expert spymaster Nick Fury decided to hide the fact that Bucky Barnes was not actually killed in Fear Itself #3 but instead was apparently just resting, he chose to replace him with a Life Model Decoy. And make Tony Stark, while wearing the aforementioned sensory-and-shit Iron Man armor, the first person to whom he showed said decoy in service of this fraud.
With logic like that at hand, it’s a shame that Fear Itself #7.1 writer Ed Brubaker isn’t writing issue 7.2, so we could see Fury trying to convince Thor that Mjolnir is a buttplug.
I don’t want to spend too much time on this review, because it amounts to Ed Brubaker spending twenty pages having too much pride to just throw up has hands and say, “And then they woke up.”
This book exists for only two reasons: to completely undo Bucky’s death at the hands of the new Red Skull in Fear Itself so that Brubaker can use the character in his new Winter Soldier comic coming out in February, and to suck four bucks out of your wallet.
In it, we see the immediate aftermath of Fear Itself #3, in which Bucky was killed, and as I recall, killed fairly convincingly. Like, “someone ripped his arm off and beat him to death with it” killed. Like, “we saw him laid out on a slab” dead. Like, “He had a hole in his chest Ron Jeremy couldn’t satisfy” dead.
Brubaker’s explanation in this book for how Bucky came back from the dead? Um… he wasn’t really dead? Because, as a paramedic on the scene said: “This Cap’s a fighter”? Nice! That’s good storytelling, Ed, and it in no way implies that Thor, who was also killed in Fear Itself, is a tørrfisk-eating surrender reindeer.
But Bucky was, in fact, hurt real bad. Too bad to recover in six months worth of comics (or: six days worth of Marvel continuity time), so how’s he walking around? Ah, Nick Fury’s Infinity Formula! The chemical that keeps Fury from aging! That’s is a unique and surprising story element, and I am beginning to change my opinion on – what’s that? Brian Michael Bendis did exactly the same thing to bring Mockingbird back from the brink of death in New Avengers #13 just last year?
I’m gonna peel away from the “story” here for a minute because I’d like to keep my morning coffee down, and also because I’d like to talk about Butch Guice’s pencils and inks, which are the only thing in this book worth the cost of admission. Guice has been a mainstay on art on Brubaker’s Captain America until very recently, and what he has chosen to do with his art on this character and this book has been very interesting: there’s a lot of Jack Kirby in there.
It never reaches the point of broad and direct homage the way Keith Giffen’s art does in DC Comics’ OMAC, but there’s just a hint: in the shape of Fury’s head, in Steve Rogers browline and how he leaps to the attack… but it never seems to apply to Bucky himself. I might be seeing things that aren’t there, but it feels like Guice has taken great lengths to make Kirby’s characters look like Kirby, while Bucky remains different. Outside. Which, considering Bucky is about to go back to being shadow warrior Winter Soldier, completely serves the story and brings an interesting layer to the storytelling in this book, if you want it. And you will want it. Because it’s about the only interesting storytelling in this fucking book.
Look, this comic isn’t a story, it’s a plot point. It is here to make Bucky not dead so he can star in his own book in February. And in service of that “lofty” goal, it has holes in the plot and logic you could drive Cap’s Harley through: Fury faked Bucky’s death so Steve Rogers would take up the mantle of Captain America again? Like Bucky being grievously injured wouldn’t have been enough? Or how about this: Rogers was the leader of S.H.I.E.L.D. when Fear Itself broke out, meaning he was still an agent of the United States government. You think if the President of the United States ordered Rogers to pick up the shield again, he – Captain Fucking America – would tell him to screw?
But no, it’s easier to hide Bucky, buy an expensive android – an android bought and paid for for the express purpose of walking, talking and mimicking a person – and ruin it by matching Bucky’s injuries and laying it on a slab… apparently to fool Iron Man, who doesn’t even have a dog in this fight and is the single person most likely to see through this bullshit. All of which goes to show that military spending, even in the Marvel Universe, is batshit out of control.
Look: I like Ed Brubaker. I regularly read Criminal and Incognito. I get Captain America in my pulls because he writes it. He can write a good book.
This isn’t it. This is just another reason to pretend that Fear Itself didn’t even happen. Skip it.