Saturday, January 14, 2012
Retro Review: Captain America #300
In comics, there's always the big 'final battle' issue for a solo character against his worst enemy. It usually results in either the villain's death or a new status quo for their relationship as worst enemies. Spider-Man had his 'final confrontation' with Venom in Amazing Spider-Man #375, Iron Man had his final battle with Iron Monger in Iron Man #200, Thor had his final battle with Loki in The Mighty Thor #432, etc. I'll get to all those eventually, but this time I'm talking about Captain America's battle 'to the death' with his worst enemy, the Red Skull.
One of the things the Captain America film failed to do was develop the relationship between Cap and Skull. In the comics, the Red Skull had always considered Cap to be his equal. In the film, he treats him more like a nuisance. This comic was the perfect way to end "a war that begun 40 years ago." Blows are felt, it's good stuff. The writing is just fantastic, some of the best writing I've ever read in a comic. I especially like when Skull says, "Two gods locked in raging battle, for all eternity!" Then Cap replies, "We are not two gods! Just two tired old men!" This issue deserves an animated adaption, it's comic book drama at its best. I like how Red Skull doesn't care about dying, he just wants to see Cap lowered to his level. Reminds me of the Batman/Joker dynamic.
Characters on the verge of killing their most hated enemy is something we've all seen a thousand times, but here it feels more fluid and dramatic. Cap saying how he hates the Red Skull for his evil and then the panels with him about to land the killing blow is just dramatic. What follows is a fantastic scene of Skull getting angry cause he wanted Cap to kill him. These characters were just written great. The actual fight is in essence, a fight to the death. There are no beams or capes, it's just two men punching each other out of commission, all the while with great dialogue. The death of the Skull is climatic, and the perfect closure to there 40 year feud.
Overall, Captain America #300 is the definition of 'battle to the death.' The writing by Micheal Ellis is some of the best I've ever read in a comic. The art by Paul Neary holds up pretty well, considering this comic came out way back in 1984. (The year of Big Brother, whoever gets this reference gets a thumbs up from me.) Cap and Skull would have more battles later on, but none would compare to the battle in this comic. It's definitely the greatest Captain America comic I've ever read.