Ambidextrous: Fortune Favors

Best Shots Extra: Batman #687

Who else was thinking Marvel was going to go the “Black Cap” route…

With the incredible and unprecedented build-up to last Monday’s announcement, coupled with the incredible popularity and marketability of a certain president, I was convinced this would form the rationale for reviving the Isaiah Bradley character, or even passing the mantle on to his grandson Elijah. And though I remember people becoming highly irritable when Captain America: The Truth was announced, I thought the current environment (Black is the New Black), coupled with the pedigree of creators Ed Brubaker and Bryan Hitch, would soften the emotional blow. However, it simply appears that Steve Rogers is coming back from the dead, presumably in time for the upcoming blockbuster movie.

Which is great, because Brubaker will still be writing it, and Hitch will still be drawing it, but I thought Marvel was going to make another of their bold and “controversial” moves here, and that it would be one strong enough to soften the blow to those that really liked seeing Bucky in the Captain America role. I never felt one way or the other about Steve Rogers, checking the book out only when it was done by a creator I really liked, but Bucky’s resurrection, leading up to his adopting of the shield and mantle, was just a really great and well-told story. One it’s obvious that Brubaker really sat down and thought long and hard about before it was actually released. Everything about the character’s emotional arc and his interactions with Steve’s inner circle was just interesting--his relationship with Black Widow, the sense of camaraderie developed between him and Falcon, his anger at Tony’s involvement in his mentor’s death. It felt like there was enough there for a couple more years’ worth of storylines before the inevitable return.

It was a major gamble at the time---the assassination, the new costume, the gun, people were going crazy about it (before actually reading it of course) but I think the majority of the fan base gave it a chance and found it a story definitely worth telling. And now we get to complain about the “end” of a story we claimed to never have wanted in the first place. Sure Brubaker isn’t going to toss Bucky into a wood chipper, but you know how it is…mainstream comics have that inherent inability to make their “changes” stick for more than a couple years at a time, and eventually everything goes back to the way it was before, because a great majority of the audience wants it that way. Hell, even Barry Allen is back and running around as The Flash again, and that seemed to be a fairly closed discussion.

Killing Cap in the first place was a big deal, but being able to stick with it for even this long was a bigger one, and I was hoping they would hold on just a little longer. But with the movie in production, Bucky’s days in the suit were always numbered, I suppose. Unless Marvel is employing some clever slight-of-hand, and the “return” isn’t quite what it appears at this point. Still, Ed Brubaker is continuing on the character in whatever form he takes, and that’s really the most important thing.

But count me as someone that hopes Dick Grayson remains Batman for a good, long while, for pretty much all the same reasons. Nothing against Bruce, but in the same way there are a ton of interesting stories to tell with Bucky as Cap, there might be even more material for Dick’s latest turn as Batman. This is before considering the suddenly welcome presence of Damien, whose harsh personality and upbringing has already made this version of the “dynamic duo” far more interesting than it has any business being. Starting off with the superb Batman & Robin #1, and threading its way through Winick’s Battle of the Cowl epilogue, the first issue of Red Robin, and last week’s Streets of Gotham #1, as the concept moves along I’ve become more and more convinced this truly is a viable outlet for stories in the Bat universe, and something that needs to stick for a couple years at least. I mean, I love Tim Drake more than anyone should, but he’s never asked Batman to cut out Harley Quinn’s tongue because her voice is so irritating.

And though some people will continue to cite the Prodigal storyline as evidence this whole story has happened before, it’s clear that the two stories bear little resemblance, provided you know what the word ‘context’ means. In this case, everyone honestly believes that Bruce Wayne is dead and gone (save Tim) and the response from the characters has been fun to witness thus far. Bruce once famously told Superman that the last thing he did to actually inspire anyone was to die, so let’s really see what his own “death” inspires in those closest to him, which, as I said, is the most enjoyable factor of having Bucky be Cap for awhile. Alfred is already more awesome than he’s been in years, and who knew it was possible to actually like Damien? I say keep it comin’ for as long as fandom can stand it, as things are off to a great start. Isn’t it strange that both of these mini-events are operating under “Reborn” branding too?

Okay folks, that’s all for now---please forgive the (slightly) abbreviated column, but I’m getting married this week and I’ve found myself quite busy in recent days. I’ll be taking next week off as well, returning the week of July 6 with a column that should be of great interest to anyone who (like me) is anxiously awaiting the release of the first installment of Wednesday Comics. Pretty sure that’ll be mentioned here every single week throughout its three-month run, but you never know, it might not be as incredible as we’re all expecting.

Yeah…right…I don’t believe that for a second either…

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