Friday, July 18, 2014

Review # 124: "Captain America - Red Menace"

One of the more underrated performances in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" comes from Frank Grillo as he takes on the role of Brock Rumlow. But it wasn't a performance I noticed at first. Despite my knowledge of comics, I had no idea that Brock Rumlow is the real name of the assassin Crossbones. It was only after seeing the film that I put two and two together.

Still, it wasn't until during a re-read of "Red Menace" that I realized how effective Grillo's interpretation was. In Mike Perkins' drawings I saw a Crossbones that stood, walked and shot then exactly how he does in the film now. It makes me appreciate the character more to a degree, as I would always visualize him moving just like any other big bloke.

Given that (spoiler,) Rumlow survives the events of "Winter Soldier" I am hoping to hell he returns in Captain America 3. And, after reading "Red Menace" once more, Sin had better be with him.

Sin, as she appears early in Ed Brubaker's run on "Captain America," is one of the most disturbing supervillains in Marvel. The daughter of the Red Skull, she has years of messed-up torture swimming through her head and finds herself now in the body of a teenager. We find her in "Red Menace" moments after she'd been retrieved by Crossbones from a SHIELD camp that had been brainwashing her into thinking she was what classifies as a "normal" American girl. Crossbones badgers and beats the crap out of Sin until she snaps out of it, emphasis on "snap."

With her mind as her own again, Sin and Crossbones go on a cross-country Bonnie and Clyde crime spree, robbing banks and gleefully killing anyone who tries to stop them. This is despite the fact that Sin looks like she's only 16 tops. It's a frightening combination, and one that would be risky to put in a "family-oriented" Marvel film for sure.

While Sin and Crossbones are shooting people in the face, we get a continuation of the events of "Winter Soldier" as Captain America tries to track down the missing Bucky Barnes. Their paths cross again in England where Aleksander Lukin and the Red Skull make a powerplay to take over a good chunk of the world with the help of a new Master Man and a giant mechanism. The sequence ends with a very foreboding image. Keep in mind this was one of Steve Rogers' last full stories before getting shot.

"Red Menace" plays out more like a series of extended vignettes than a cohesive narrative compared to the preceding "Winter Soldier," but that's not a knock. It's an ongoing, gripping process on the part of Brubaker as the current (at the time) world of Captain America is fleshed out... just in time to take the main piece away.

Rating: 8.5/10

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