Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Captain America: The fighting Avenger by Brian Clevinger, illustrated by Gurihiru

I asked the kids what superheroes they'd like more of in the juvenile graphic novel section and they said Captain America. But it's not easy to find Captain America (or most other superheroes) appropriate for the under 12s, other than buying the expensive library bound ABDO editions, and not even all of those are appropriate for the kids. I have a lot of 6-8 year olds who love superheroes. What to give them?

I saw a preview of Captain America Fighting Avenger...somewhere, I think maybe in another comic, and it looked like one that would be both fun and appropriate so I got a copy to preview from inter-library loan.

Yes! It's great! The picture I uploaded here shows an individual comic, but I got a collection with four stories. The first is Captain America The Fighting Avenger. It's a story of Captain America's first mission as a soldier in World War II. He doesn't even have an official code name yet, he's never been on a mission, and the commandos who get to babysit him aren't happy with a green newbie. But when their mission to destroy a bridge goes wrong fast, Captain America learns fast and his companions decide they're glad he's along after all.

There was plenty of action and adventure, lots of little comic insider notes, like the creation of the Red Skull and Captain America throwing his shield for the first time, and plenty of yelling, fighting, explosions, etc. but no gore, bad language, or angst. Perfect! The art looks like an animated cartoon and the text is nicely clear and readable with lots of comic-style action words.

The other stories included are from Marvel Adventures. Marvel Adventures Super Heroes Captain America issue 5 has a tougher, more muscled Captain America going on a mission to rescue...a baby rhino. Instead, he finds himself stuck in a town of Hydra agents with an unreliable ally. This isn't completely stand-alone, as it helps to know a little about Hydra, but it's easy to pick up that they're the bad guys.

Marvel Adventures Avengers issue 3 features several Avengers cracking jokes at an awards ceremony for Cap...with an unexpected guest, the original Baron Zemo! Or is he? Working together, the team rescues Cap and defeats the Baron, who turns out to be the son of Cap's old enemy. The art here is typical of most of the Marvel Adventures, depending heavily on recognizable costumes and without much fine detail and packing lots of explosions and jokes - just the thing kids (and myself) like.

The final story, Marvel Adventures Avengers 37 has a more old-school feel to the art, as is appropriate for a story featuring old superhero companions of Cap, time travel, and the Puppet Master. It's a little difficult to follow if you don't know all the characters and the events are more than a little unbelievable, but there's plenty of jokes, mostly from Wolverine, so who could complain?

Verdict: While I'd prefer a complete collection with issues in order, that's not how Marvel does things. I don't know if there will be more issues of Captain America Fighting Avenger. Meanwhile, this is a fun and age-appropriate collection. Only available in paperback, so it won't last forever, but by the time it falls apart Captain America probably won't be popular anymore so it's worth the money.

ISBN: 0785151982; Published June 2011 by Marvel; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library

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