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Marvel Masterworks: Captain America Vol. 9 Hardcover – April 25, 2017
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The book picks up where the last masterwork ended with Cap victorious over the Secret Empire but disillusioned with America and uncomfortable as a symbol of it. He gives up his Captain America identity for a while, dons a new one (Nomad) for a few issues, and then returns to being Captain America, but on his own terms, for his own reasons. All these changes are handled brilliantly. Englehart gives us the grand tour of what makes Steve Rogers/Captain America tick. This is great stuff. He also deftly handles the effects of all these changes on the Falcon, Peggy and Sharon Carter, the Avengers, and the Marvel universe as a whole. A nice touch, starting as farce but ultimately ending in tragedy, are the attempts of others to step into the role of Captain America. Sal Buscema and some fill-ins do some great art during this period with Vince Colletta (with again some fill-ins) doing excellent inking.
Then the wheels start coming off when Englehart and Buscema leave and are replaced by John Warner as writer and Frank Robbins as penciller. Robbins, in my opinion, is not the right choice for a modern superhero. His artwork is too stylized (cartoonish) for my tastes. His pencils worked well enough on the WWII era Invaders book but not here. The writing turned into a "writer of the month" collaboration with Warner quickly followed by Tony Isabella, Bill Mantlo, and Marv Wolfman. It's not really bad; it just has a tough act to follow.
The extras are rather generous. They include the relevant text pieces from FOOM 8, a reprint Giant-Size cover, 5 pages of original artwork, and the Captain America month of the 1978 Marvel calendar. There is also a 4 page introduction by Englehart.
Highly recommended. I thought Englehart was pouring too much of his own politics into the previous masterworks but once he gets Cap where he wants him he followed through with some great soul searching stories that did not descend into personal politics. It is a shame that his successors could not maintain his momentum but this was a very enjoyable collection nevertheless.