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Captain America Epic Collection, Vol. 9, No. 1: Dawn's Early Light Paperback – March 11, 2014
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"Roger Stern and John Byrne's run on [Captain America] may have been only nine issues, but it's an amazingly packed nine issues. The two creators seemed energized rather than intimidated by the character's history, and that comes through in the way in which they present Cap: clear-headed, direct, and never anything less than the greatest hero he could be." -- Graeme McMillan
"Stern and Byrne would bring Cap to Great Britain [for] a reunion of sorts with war-time allies, and a bout with the supernatural. Frankly, the entirety of their run is noteworthy." -- Bob Reyer
"Batroc the Leaper, Mister Hyde, and Baron Blood were all temporarily elevated to A-list status after Stern and Byrne were finished with them ... [but] the real highlight was Captain America #250, where Cap briefly contemplated a Presidential run. In an era where big business was running unregulated and actors were masquerading as politicians, this issue served as succinct commentary for the state of the country. It's the perfect blend of intelligence and fantasy." -- Jason Serafino
"The first five pages alone will convince you that [Roger] Stern is one of the best there is at capturing a hero's awesomeness ... Stern is a master at showing, as opposed to telling, just how good and capable a superhero is." -- Duy Tano
"Stern and Byrne have that go-for-the-throat intensity that makes so many modern comic books seem flat and dull by comparison ... there is never a dull moment or chance to catch your breath." -- Kris Shaw
"The best attribute in Roger Stern's work is his heart. His stories tend to be rooted in the decency of heroes -- his heroes have HEART, as it were. His Captain America has an interesting reaction to having to kill a vampire (as well as possibly running for elected office)." -- Brian Cronin
From the Author
"Captain America is both an idealist and a patriot ... a living symbol of the American Dream. He grew up in a era of economic upheaval and government corruption, in a time when political and religious demagogues used the airwaves to increase their personal power and wealth. When Cap came out of suspended animation and rejoined the world, things hadn't really changed that much. There were more people, and the demagogues were using television in addition to radio, but Cap had seen it all before. And despite the frustration of seeing how little people had changed, he didn't give in to cynicism. That toughness of character was -- is -- his greatest strength." -- Roger Stern
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Long story short, this is the real Captain America--accept no substitutes.
Great stories and great art from one of the best eras in Mavel's history.
The art is really a high point of the collection. 19 stories are excellent. The first nine by John Byrne, the bulk of end with eight from Mike Zeck and two from the late great Gene Colan. Only two from Lee Elias and Paul Kuppenburg failed to impress me. The writing it seems took longer to stabilize after Roger Stern left and we see many one shot writers on board, before J.M. DeMatteis and David Anthony Kraft come on with some longer runs.
Captain America #247 introduces the creative team of Roger Stern & John Byrne as co-plotters for the next 9 issues. Stern then would script and Byrne would pencil. Josef Rubenstein inks all but the last story. Rubenstein is one of the all time great Byrne inkers ranking up there with Terry Austin. This story is one shot and features Baron Van Strucker.
#248 and #249 is two parter featuring Machinesmith and The Dragon Man. These issues also introduce the lovely Bernie Rosenthal and a new supporting cast for Steve Rogers. I loved Bernie and was very disappointed by how much her role diminished after Stern & Byrne left.
#250 is fondly remembered by most. It is the story of the time that Captain America considering running for President. I found the story did not hold up that well and i enjoyed it the least from Stern/Byrne run.
#251 & #252 is two parter with two villains. Batroc The Leaper and Mr. Hyde. These two are some times classified as some of the lamer villains but are a lot of fun here and I thought this storyline was a delight. It also features elements from David Michline's Iron-Man run with Justin Hammer and Roxxon Oil.
#253 & #254 features Cap going back to the UK . We get Baron Blood, Spitfire, Union Jack all in a tribute to the Invaders. This is my favorite of the collection and one of my favorite Cap stories ever.
#255 the last by the powerhouse team and has a flashback to Cap's origin and his golden age days. I assume the deadline crunch was the reason for having most of Byrne's art reproduced from the pencils.
#256 Cap remains in the UK in a very good fill in from writer Bill Mantlo and Gene Colan.
#257 co-stars The Hulk in another fill in from Mike W. Barr and Lee Elias. Because the story page count increased 5 pages when the cover price jumped from 40c to 50c, some Not Brand Echh stuff was also reprinted to fill in the page count.
#258 Things pick up in a major way as Mile Zeck comes on board as regular artist. Altough his art is pretty good in this first story it seems to improve a bit with every story. This story is by Chris Claremont and David Micheline. It was nice to see all the new supporting characters used again . The villain named "BlockBuster" was kind of lame. I expected him to throw old VHS tapes at Cap.
#259 Has Micheline, Zeck and Jim Shooter in a story about how Cap gets his "Easy Rider" style chopper. Plus Doc Ock.
#260 skips out of the hands of Mike Zeck,and you might want to skip this story. Writing by Al Milgrom, art by Paul Kupperburg.
#261 to #263 is the only three parter in this volume, it is wrtten by J.M.Dematteis and features the making of a Captain America movie and the return of the Ameridriod, Nomad and The Red Skull.
#264 is the same creative team but in a crazy off beat story which takes place in a different reality. I am not sure if liked it or not ?
Captain America King Size #5 is next with the returns of Micheline and Gene Colan in a over-sized stand alone story. It is the story of a twisted man and features an appearance by The Constrictor.
#265 & #266 introduces David Anthony Kraft as new writer for a two parter with SHEILD and a bad guy named Thunderhead.
Of the twenty one comics included I rated 19 of them very good or better. And for the price this is a great bargain. RECOMMENDED
The chief selling point in turn is NOT the Stern/Byrne issues but the collection of issues that follow it that are pretty boring when you actually read them. A better starting point would have been the start of the Englehart run (which remains uncollected outside the Essential line) or if they had gone with the upcoming Gruenwald volume, that collects the start of his epic, defining run which was used as the inspiration for the Captain America movies.
If you failed to collect any of the previous dozen collections of the Stern/Byrne era material or don't want to wait for the next volume of the Essential Captain America series (who's last volume ended around the same issue Byrne and Stern left the title), you'll want this volume. if not, just wait until the Gruenwald volume drops this fall.....