Captain America: White

by  in Comics Reviews
Story by
Art by
Tim Sale
Colors by
Dave Stewart
Letters by
JG Roshell and Richard Starkings
Cover by
Tim Sale
Marvel Comics

There are some writer/artist combinations these days that are almost comic-book royalty. Near the top of the list is certainly Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, especially after collaborations like “Batman: The Long Halloween” and “Superman For All Seasons”. After three mini-series for Marvel, the two went on to other projects, but they’ve finally reunited for the brand-new “Captain America: White”.

They’re kicking off the series a little early with “Captain America: White” #0. While it’s a designation that is really overused, I’m actually glad that this issue stands aside from the rest of the mini-series. It probably got branded #0 because the story is a shorter length than normal, and the rest of the issue is filled up with interviews and a sketchbook. I can’t help but wonder if it’s because it’s a prologue that it felt more than a little lackluster.

It’s a retelling of Bucky’s origin, and considering that their other three big collaborations for Marvel have also retold significant past stories (“Daredevil: Yellow”, “Spider-Man: Blue”, and “Hulk: Gray”) that really shouldn’t have been much of a surprise to me. The problem, though, is that it felt like both Loeb and Sale were on auto-pilot for this story. At their best, their collaborations really expose the emotional cores of the iconic characters, bringing an extra punch to a story that you already know so well. Here, though, we don’t get that. It’s very by-the-numbers and unengaging; Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting brought more pathos to two- and three-page flashbacks in “Captain America” than all 16 pages did here.

Even Sale’s artwork isn’t up to its normally high standards here. It’s not bad, certainly, but I think everyone’s used to so much better from him. I had high hopes with the very first page, a beautiful drawing of an old-fashioned movie theatre, complete with amazing colors courtesy Dave Stewart. But it quickly slowed down from there, his characters looking a deformed and off-kilter in panels. (People still mock Rob Liefeld’s infamous drawing of Captain America where what were supposed to be pectoral muscles looked like a gigantic rack of breasts, but I’ll contend that Bucky walking in on Captain America changing in “Captain America: White” made me wonder when Cap had become a woman.)

I really hope that when the mini-series proper debuts, that “Captain America: White” is up to Loeb and Sale’s higher standards that I’ve come to expect. The two of them together so often produce real works of beauty. It’s not a debut for the ages, that’s for certain.