The Captain America one-shot, The Fighting Avenger, takes the whole idea of the star spangled Avenger and turns it on its ear. For the most part, Captain America stands for everything the fighting soldier wants to be. He’s brave, strong, a true leader and possessed of super powers to boot.
In The Fighting Avenger, we get to see an unproven Captain America in his first adventure with seasoned soldiers who don’t really want him around. Even Cap’s suit is new and not yet fully developed. I’m not sure if this old school throwback is an attempt at Marvel to ready the public for the upcoming movie, but the comic is so much fun who cares.
Writer Brain Clevinger, best know for his web comic 8 Bit Theater and the Eisner-nominated Atomic Robo, takes a cue from the 30s and 40s era with both plot and dialog. There’s a real whiz-bang feel to issue, which centers on Cap and a highly trained group of soldiers attempting to knock out a Nazi stronghold.
The team is not happy with the tag along superhero, a nice change from the hero worship most soldiers are written with in standard Captain America issues. There are gunfights, fisticuffs, even the first example of Cap throwing his shield to thwart evil. To top it all off we even get to see the birth of the Red Skull, though in a different way than originally told.
Captain America: The Fighting Avenger, is kept from being a fully realized one-shot due to the art. It’s not that the art is all bad, but more confusing. With such an old school story, it would follow that the art also follow the Golden Age era. Instead Marvel returns to a Manga-American Manga hybrid and it doesn’t really suit the story. Artist Gurihiru, which is actually a studio featuring pencils by Sasaki and colors from Kawano, have a great sense of style and action.
The movement in the panels is crisp and the lines and definitions really powerful. However the Manga-like way the human characters are drawn isn’t what’s called for. The Fighting Avenger needs more of the Captain America punching Hitler from issue #1 than something like Death Note or Resturante Paradiso. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that style, it just doesn’t fit an old school Captain America tale.
I can only assume that Marvel was trying to suck in the same kids they want flooding the theaters for the movie. The art aside, Captain America The Fighting Avenger is a cool adventure yarn that takes us back to a less complicated time in Cap’s life.