Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Comic Books

Each year, I try to pick up some holiday-themed comic books. I'm a little light this year, and they're all Marvel titles, but I did manage to work through a good/bad/ugly trio.

Getting the bad out of the way, Wolverine #49 isn't terrible, but it's pretty mheh. The issue is oversold from the solicitation blurb to the cover (Wolvie never shows up in a Santa suit). There's a funny moment after Wolverine kills a bunch of terrorist elves (seriously), the beginning is solid, and the climax and end are top-notch, very stylistic, and powerful with their lack of dialog.

The good is this year's Marvel Holiday Special #1, I surprisingly great, entertaining read. Not serious at all, the pace is great, and there are some fun stories to be had. "A.I.M. Lang Syne", Shaenon K. Garrity and Andrew Farrago's take on a holiday office party (where an unknowing date is attending at the offices the A.I.M. terrorist organization) is a fun romp, with Ron Lim's solid and personable art pulling the story along nicely. Also, spreading that story across the issue (24-style), is clever.

Scott Gray and Roger Langridge's "how fin fang foom Saved Christmas" unexpectedly pairs up the legendary dragon Fin Fang Foom and Dr. Strange's faithful manservant Wong (that looks weird spelled out). The two thwart a botched Hydra holiday attack. The art is Ditko-esque, and the whole piece is satire, with some not unimportant things to say about dogmatism and relationships. And it's funny.

Then there's Mike Carey and Mike Perkins' Dr. Seuss-ian (ish?) "A is for Annihilus", which is arguably brilliant, and is the "whole package" -- writing and art, and really needs to be experienced to be appreciated.

And there's a "Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe" entry for Santa Clause, written (edited?) by Jeff Christiansen, and does a great job of marrying the history the myth with Marvel's treatment of it over the years.

Finally, there is a gallery of select previous Marvel Holiday Special covers (1991, 1993, 1994, and 1996), with my favorite being the Arthur "Art" Adams 1991 cover, the original issue of which I have somewhere. (Art did the cover for 1993, too, but I think that's an inferior cover, and for me (for various reasons), that cover is a sad snapshot reminder of Marvel's first year in serious decline.)

And the bar from last year's issue (a Harvey Award nominee) is pretty high...

The ugly isn't bad -- it's actually great. But it's the Punisher: X-mas Special #1. Not only does it typify the anti-hero nature of the character (which straddles the fence between that and "non-hero"), it's even grittier when put against a holiday backdrop (think select issues of the Daredevil "Born Again" run). Stuart Moore's story is tight, and C. P. Smith's art is much better than the New Invaders stuff, which may be due to the one-shot nature of the issue, and Dean White's coloring. Smith's art is bit inconsistent, most noticeably in not keeping character's (like Frank Castle's) faces consistent. It's annoying when you have remember the main character is the main character.

Why this get's the "ugly" designation is it's pretty rough stuff, content wise. Published under the Marvel Knights imprint, geared to "spotlight its darkest corners and grittiest characters". The problem is it doesn't bare the MK logo on its cover, and it's even missing Marvel's kludgey (and changing) rating system. While MK titles are generally for "readers 15 and up", I'd argue this title -- with its child death, attempted suicide, strip club, and such -- is somewhere between "Parental Advisory" and "MAX".

Monday, November 06, 2006

Mad About Super Heroes

People who are cooler than me got me Mad About Super Heroes, a consolidation of Mad Magazine's riffs on all things super hero.

This includes takes on Superman (comics/films/TV), X-Men, etc., with artwork from Sergio Aragones, Mort Drucker, Al Jafee, Angelo Torres, and Don Martin.

And while the book self-deprecates as being written by "The Usual Gang of Super-Idiots", there's some clever stuff in almost every panel of every satire.

And though some of the jokes feel a little retread, this is a pretty good tome -- and probably avoids that problem altogether if read in multiple sittings.

Fun, inspiring comedic stuff.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


I'm reading ELEPHANTMEN: Tales from Mystery City and the World of Hip Flask.

This is amazing stuff. Think well-thought, European Blade Runner sensibilities on an Island of Dr. Moreau skin stretched over an HR Geiger skeleton. Or something.

"2162: THEY ARE THE SURVIVORS of genetic engineering experiments and indoctrination by Doctor Kazushi Nikken and MAPPO, a sinister organization which sought to create suprahuman weapons of mass destruction.

"FREED AND REHABILITATED by the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, the 'Unhumans' now live amongst men. Legitimized by the 'Elephantmen' act, they are nevertheless denied the right to bear arms and must survive on their wits alone."
Born in the pulp 1940s, the franchise has nothing but improved with age. The Website has a 60-year retrospective, well worth a quick romp. I've been a fan for a while, and this recent incarnation is a brilliant addition to the franchise.

Lots of previews available on the Web, and the second printing of the sold out #1 is on its way.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Twisted ToyFare Theater (Vols. 1 & 2)

"Oh, Sweet Mother, his is funny sh**. They should do a kids cartoon."
I'm reading ToyFare Magazine's Twisted ToyFare Theater, and it now hurts to pee.

ToyFare is a Wizard's toy collection magazine, and the whole thing is awesomely irreverant, but TTT is a whole new level of funny.

The concept is to take toys (many valuable, some MEGO crappy, and some both), and create riffs on everything -- how Jar Jar Binks sucks, how funny it would be if Charlie Brown really hated his servitude to Snoopy, etc. -- and make a comic strip. An adult comic strip.

Spider-Man is a dysfunctional slacker. Captain America is a boyscout. Mr. Fantastic is an elistist megolomaniac. The hulk has consistent dietary problems with broccoli and corn, and with petting furred animals too hard (like Chief Chirpa). Thor's a girly man. The Axis of Evil consists of Gargamel, Skeletor, Cobra Commander and Megatron.

You get the picture.

I laughed out loud reading Volumne 2.

Out. Loud.

Check out samples online.

Oh, this is funny stuff. And it's inspiring stuff for my "Super Secret Project X", which is in the same vein.

And, the collected volumes also include behind-the-scenes techniques. Which also helps "Super Secret Project X".

Ah, I've dropped another tip.

More to come ...

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Halo Graphic Novel

I finally got to read The Halo Graphic Novel (two weeks after it released, but the $8.50 I saved at Amazon was worth it).

This is a good first foray into the comics medium for Bungie and Marvel. Unfortunately not great, but pretty solid.

The book is divided into 5 parts -- 4 self-contained (mostly) stories (each with different writers and artists) and an art gallery.

I say mostly self-contained, because the first story, "Last Voyage of the Infinite Succor", written by Lee Hammock and illustrated by Simon Bisley, is not. If you don't have the back story of the game, and read the introduction to the story, you'll be lost. And the narrative is pretty weak and disjoint, and doesn't do service to Bisley's great art -- not a good one with which to start the book.

The next 3 stories are stronger.

"Armor Testing" by Ed Lee and Jay Faerber is a solid (if a bit underwhelming) tale, with a subtle twist and decent humanization at the end.

Better is Tsutomo Nihei's "Breaking Quarantine", which details Halo foil (and cookie-cutter space marine bad-ass sergeant -- uh, Aliens?) Johnson's escape from the Flood. This dialog-less tale showcases Nihei's painted art, and his flexibility in illustrating someone else's story.

The best (and capstone) story is Moebius and Brett Lewis' "Second Sunrise Over New Mombasa" -- a tight, insightful (but not heavyhanded), and eventually sentimental war journalism story. And there's a subtle, definite nod to the hook of Halo 3.

The art gallery is great, with my favorite entries being from Lorraine McLees, Doug Alexander, Justin Sweet, Kent Williams, Craig Mullins, and Scott Fischer (who also gets my award for best composition; deconstructing the pict makes me realize, "Oh, that's why I'm affected that way!).

My least favorite pin-up is Bungie guy's Tom Doyle's, (What, is that a midget kid he's rescuing? C'Mon, proportion. Little Person kid. Sorry).

And then I have my general gripes about hard back cover galleries. Why do a two-page spread, when I can't hope to get a decent view of it, even if I break the spine of the book? You think I'm actually gonna cut these picts out and hang them up? How long to do you think this thing'll sit on my coffee table to show off to guests before it goes on a shelf, rarely to be viewed?

But, this is a good first foray into the comics, and with confirmation that the franchise will go monthly next year, the future looks good from this starting point.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I Peter

Yikes, this is a tough one for me to reconcile with day-to-day living, and it's not like there's a lot of gray in the text ...

Friday, August 04, 2006

Marvel's "Civil War"

Marvels Comics' Civil War crossover arc is a big thing.

I've been reading the two core series, Civil War and Civil War: Frontline, and a select few tie-ins (Captain America (natch), New Avengers, and others that catch my eye).

The overly simplified premise is there was a fight between bad guys and good guys, one of the bad guys is really bad, and wiped out a chunk of a town -- including an elementary school and all of its kids.

In response, the government signs into law the Superhero Registration Act, which requires all costumed and powered entities to register with the government, reveal their identities to the government, and fight for the government. Half the men and women in tights comply (ostensibly led by Iron Man, who, also interestingly, does not wear tights), and half become resistance fighters (led by Captain America). Yeah. Interesting...

The difference between the core two series at a high level is Civil War is the superhero struggle, and Civil War: Frontline is the civilian view. The first series is written by Mark Millar, and is good. The second is written by Paul Jenkins, and is not.

Now, that's a bit of an unfair generalization, but hear me out (and hear me contradict myself).

Civil War is more even-handed. It shows the complexity of letting people with so much power loose in the world, and it shows the slippery slope of civil rights violation. At least it was good until #3, where Millar -- who knows Spider-Man -- has a bunch of interactions between him and Captain America, Daredevil, and others that do not fit in to the character, and do not fit into the history and relationship he has with those two guys. Weird, and what it showed was not authentic to the characters for the sake of creating drama in that issue. I'm hoping #4 resets a bit.

Civil War: Frontline is a showcase for Paul Jenkins' agenda, which is a bummer, because I like Jenkins as a writer. But he's got an axe to grind with the current administration, and it shows in his work. The book is clever in that it has multiple mini stories continuing in each issue (though the final poetry/lyric juxtaposition at the end of each issue is coming off convoluted and flat to me), but I feel like the integrity of the work is off because of the personal biases. Think a lesser evil than what Chuck Austen did with Nightcrawler or Captain America. But Issue #4 was better -- much better -- and seemed to start a correction in the diatribe. We'll see.

Now, New Avengers #22, by Brian Michael Bendis got my attention. I mean, Brian Michael Bendis is amazing, but this issue showcases that. It's all about Luke Cage (Power Man), and what he's going to do at midnight, when the bill becomes law. And very little is about fighting. It is about sacrificing (Cage is married and has a newborn daughter). It is about standing up for what is right, and defending your home. Bendis does a really good job with dialog (his forte), including some direct references to slavery, and some heart-hurting moments between Cage, his wife, and their newborn ("She won't look at me ... Hey baby ... look at me"). I was affected.

But I'm exhausted and taking Meisner classes so I'm prone to be misty eyed anyway.

The artist-of-the-month thing is irritating me, but I liked Leinil Yu's artwork -- Bill Sienkiewicz plus Trevor Hersine. Ish.

Oh, and what I predicted last time about this issue being out of whack with the Civil War continuity? It happened (I'm good):

"But where does [New Avengers #21] fit in the Civil War? It's almost like it's supposed to come out before Civil War #2 (and maybe even #1), but shipped after both. And the tease for New Avengers #22 sounds like it's supposed to happen before Civil War #2, also, but will probably ship after #4 [it actually shipped at the same time]."
(Where did I miss Cap's shield getting a chip in it?)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Captain America ("The Extremists")

Actually, I'm trying to read the Marvel's Marvel Knights incarnation of the Captain America comic book character.

I tend to get all things Captain America, but the problem I'm having currently is I'm in the Chuck Austen-written "The Extremists" story arc, which comes after the John Ney Rieber "New Deal" arc.

I don't like Chuck Austen's writing. Probably a very nice guy, but I don't like what he does with characters and franchises.

It's not just me -- My local comic shop, if they hand me a Chuck Austen-written comic, let me know I can return it if I hate it. If I wasn't such a compeletist, I'd take them up on this. And what he did with Nightcrawler in the X-Men book was an abuse of writing, and poor management on the editing side for allowing it to happen.

But, as far as Captain America Travesty's go, I lump Austen with the Rob Liefeld and the late Mark Gruenwald. Talented folks all in their own right (Sqaudron Supreme is amazing), but they all screwed up this franchise in their own special way.

I need to finish my lengthy essay on "Why Captain America Matters", but the short version is if he's done right, Cap is patriotic, noble, inspiring, and outside of policitical dogmatism. Since the 1970s Done wrong, he's at best an overgrown boy scout or jingoist, at worst fascist.

Chuck Austen alternates the character between boy scout, jingoist, and fascist. Nice.

Again, probably a nice person, but I'm not happy with his writing.

Must. Get through. This. Story arc...

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Stormbreaker: The Saga of Beta Ray Bill

I'm a fan of Beta Ray Bill, Marvel Comics' alien, co-incarnation of their Thunder god Thor character.

So when the Stormbreaker: The Saga of Beta Ray Bill miniseries was released as a trade paperback, I picked it up right away.

Bill was created by Walt Simonson, and it's hard to compete with that caliber of talent, but Daniel Berman, Michael Avon Oeming/Andrea Di Vito do a solid job on the story and art.

The beginning is strong, the emotion and stakes are well-articulated, and though the cosmic battles could go the tiresome way of the Dragonball Z Frieza Saga, they're kept pretty tight and engaging.

It's the series' ending with which I have a problem.

I have to be vague to avoid spoilers, but the last issue tie-in to the Marvel Universe seems like a forced marketing tie-in, and the last-minute dovetail to the origin of Thor (abandoned for Thor himself for a reason) and nod to Simonson seems (to me) hacked. Overall, it weakens the saga.

On the upside, maybe this will give Bill some more play in Marvel Universe.

I'd recommend this trade for Beta Ray Bill fans. For those unfamiliar with the character, I'd recommend The Mightly Thor in The Ballad of Beta Ray Bill trade paperback, which collects Simonson's introduction of the character.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

New Avengers 20, 21

Someone screwed up.

Marvel's Comics Civil War crossover arc is a big thing. We're talking potentially re-writing the mythos big. Not Ultimate-update of franchises big, but bigger -- like "so-and-so-who-could-never-reveal his-identity-just-did" big.

So why all the miss-steps?

I mean, Brian Michael Bendis is amazing. Even more so, considering how prolific the dude is, and he's arguably redifined a big chunk of the Marvel Universe recently.

But there must be some problems with scheduling, planning or something with this Civil War thing.

The last several issues of New Avengers have been intense -- this weird "Collective" uber mutant entity comes back to earth indescriminately wipes out a town, and even kills Canadian super hero team Alpha Flight (with no more than a page's treatment, no less). Puck. Finally. Dead.

Then in issue #20, we get a faxed-in story. Seriously.

New Avengers #20:

Everything got tied together, in an overly neat, overly faux way (though with an admittedly possible opening later with The Sentry). Too much was crammed into this, including a disservice to the character of Magneto, and a non-believable change in character for beurocratic bad girl(and Head of S.H.I.E.L.D.) Agent Hill. Not very Bendis-like.

Which was probably all to get to the New Avengers #21 Civil War tie-in.

New Avengers #21:

Now, don't get me wrong, this issue is good. Bendis showcases his talent for dialog, and showing some chinks in Captain America's/Steve Roger's confidence, and a little more of his humanity, is pretty cool. And the relational banter between Cap and Falcon is really well done, shows their personalities, and why they complement each other.

(And I'm probably the only guy in the world who isn't a real fan of Howard Chaykin's art, too. But at least it's OK for this issue. Beside, he's like a artistic hero to Bendis, so that's probably why he's there.)

But where does the issue fit in the Civil War? It's almost like it's supposed to come out before Civil War #2 (and maybe even #1), but shipped after both. And the tease for New Avengers #22 sounds like it's supposed to happen before Civil War #2, also, but will probably ship after #4.

C'Mon, Marvel, get with the program! Bendis is good, but you need enough oversite at the program level to schedule these better.

And stop spoiling the stories before I read them! I am so pissed that you, USA Today, and the local paper all gave away the end to Civil War #2 before it shipped! You don't give away the end of a movie or TV show in the preview -- why do it to comic fans!

So my review has turned a little pissy. Fanboys are pretty intolerant. Deal with it.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Moon Knight

Moon Knight, like Beta Ray Bill, is one of favorite lesser-known comic book characters.

I've been excited about the pending relaunch of the franchise, since it took a dive in the West Coast Avengers days.

I've always liked Moon Knight, but thought his get up and the whole "worshipping the moon god" thing was a bit ... hokey.

Writer Charlie Huston and artist David Finch are looking to almost literally resurect the character, after brutally stripping him to ground zero, and if the first two issues are any indication, the character's got some life left in him.

David "New Avengers" Finch has got a solid art style, and I'm hoping he keeps fleshing it out more as his own. I've seen previews for issues #3 and #4, and I'm worried he''l go too far with the "me too Todd McFarlane" look (and before people start saying Moon Knight ripped off Spawn, MK was waaaay before Todd's little hellboy.)

Anyway, should be a good ride, for as long as the series lasts.

Monday, May 22, 2006

New Avengers (1-18)

I'm waaaay too behind on my comic book reading.

I've made it a point to get up to speed on a few things -- most notably New Avengers -- in anticipation of Marvel's upcoming "Civil War" story arc (aka "thinly veiled multi-title crossover marketing play #18 billion").

But New Avengers is good. Really good.

Brian Michael Bendis gets dialog, particularly the Spider-Man banter, the weight of Captain America (not the jingoism), and the thrill and complexity of the double agent.

It's kind of hard to summarize 18 issues, but here goes:

On the art side, I really like David Finch's artwork, and Steve McNiven's is really OK, but for me, it really depends on his inker (though he does at one point have the world's most well-placed zipper on Shield Director Maria Hill.

I was not very excited about Frank (Liberty Meadows) Cho taking a stab at the super team, but then I got a load of his Jessica Drew. A Frank Cho Spider-Woman is one of the better things to grace comics. Or anything, for that matter.

Mike Deodato is supposed to be a "fan-favorite", so I'll give him some time, but I'm not crazy about it so far. Feels uneven to me (speaking of uneven, Rob de la Torre's stint on Ms. Marvel is driving me nuts; it's like he's bored with anything not Ms. Marvel).

On the writing side, Bendis -- amazing. Like I said, he gets dialog (not Joss Whedon Astonishing X-Men gets it, but that's just a stylistic preference on my part).

As far as the arcs, "Breakout" is solid, "Sentry" felt wonky, and "Secrets and Lies" says, "It . Just. Got. Interesting!"

Oh, and the "Civil War" story arc may well be really important, in that encouraging dialog kind of way. I may blog about it (and some tangential mutterings) quite a bit. We'll see.

New Avengers. They're new. They're Avengers. Bendis. You need more? (Yeah, the creative teams are changing soon, but it's from one stellar writer/illustrator to another. Deal with it.)

UPDATED: It was actually issues 1-18 I read, not 1-20. Whoops.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Captain Britain

I mentioned in a previous post I'd been reading Captain Britain:
Sticking with the comic book theme, I'm an Alan Moore fan. I'm an Alan Davis fan. I'm a fan of the Alan Davis Captain Britain/Excaliber run in the 1990s. So when I saw this trade paperback of the Marvel UK serial that was the first time Alan Moore and Alan Davis teamed up -- recreating Captain Britain -- I had to snag it. Great read so far.
And it continued to be a great read. With V for Vendetta getting positive critical and popular response, I should mention Captain Britain has lot of the same themes, and works in mixing them with humor and the fun "spandex-and-tights" tropes.

Great trade paperback to have on my shelf ...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

(A lot.)

I realize that I update this particular "I'm [whatever]ing" blog for less frequently than my other mini-review blogs ("I'm Playing", "I'm Seeing", and "I'm Hearing").

That's probably becuase I read a ton all at the same time, so it takes me longer to finish any one item, but diversifies my reading quite a bit.

So, here's the shotgun summary of what I'm working through, though I'm probably missing quite a bit. I honestly due hope to have mini-reviews for all of these (at least the non-periodicals) at some point.
  • Get in the Game: Careers in the Game Industry -- This book is actually growing on me. The errors are still irritating, but the content is getting a little more game industry vertical market centric, which is useful (and interesting). I still think it trie too hard to make gaming software development "more special" than other software devlopment -- "managing software is managing software".
  • Ray Harryhausen: An Animated Life -- This secret little project I mentioned requires that I learn from the master. And Harryhausen is the master. More soon. Seriously.
  • The Art of Voice Acting -- This is my first-read and oft-returned-to voice acting handbook. James Alburger's book put me in a good place for starting the technique, Biz and business of voice acting (building on the strong foundation of my coach Lainie Frasier). I recently finished a tele-seminar with Alburger and Penny Abshire, and though I didn't really get what I wanted out of the class, Jim and Penny are amazingly talented, gave some good feedback and techniques, and the class used the book heavily, which helped me remember some VO basics I'd taken for granted. I really need to get the updated version of the book, which has new scripts, demo clips, chapters, and resources.
  • Comic Book Character: Unleashing The Hero In Us All -- It's no secret that I'm a comic book geek. It's somewhat less known that I'm a leader, and want to be a good leader than people follow. A buddy of mine got me this book, which is a treatise of comic book characters, uh, character, and how it relates to hopes, fears, real-world character, leadership, and religion. It's a little unbalanced, but surprised me in how it challenged me(I'm an active reader).

    "If you were a superhero, how could you get through a day without wondering about the origin of reality, without questioning how you came to be so specially gifted?... how could you avoid demanding an accounting from God for the pain and suffering you witness day in and day out?"

    I actually just put this book on hold, because it started to give spoilers to Truth: Red, White & Black, which is sitting on my nightstand waiting to be read (I buy pretty much all things Captain America).
  • Captain Britain -- Sticking with the comic book theme, I'm an Alan Moore fan. I'm an Alan Davis fan. I'm a fan of the Alan Davis Captain Britain/Excaliber run in the 1990s. So when I saw this trade paperback of the Marvel UK serial that was the first time Alan Moore and Alan Davis teamed up -- recreating Captain Britain -- I had to snag it. Great read so far.
  • Ephesians -- Going back to religion, whether from a religious or literary perspective, I find it fascinating to read two books of the Bible from the same author, with different audiences and messages. Ephesians is a good one to juxtapose with, say, 1 Corinthians.
  • Magazines -- The last two months each of The Official Xbox Magazine and GameInformer, and the April ("Video Game Edition") of Wired Magazine (now available online), because I'm a video games junkie, too.
OK, that's good for now. You now have a view into the reading portion of my head.

Huh. I should probably add a novel or two in this round.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Get in the Game: Careers in the Game Industry

I'm reading Get in the Game: Careers in the Game Industry, by Marc Mencher.

I'm reading this book for a bunch of reasons.

I'm fairly accomplished at the director level (program/project/service/account manager(ish) at my current BigHugeCorp in the financial services vertical market. Companies in other vertical markets -- medical, IT, oil & gas, and even construction -- all look at me as a positive acquisition. However, I've gotten static from the gaming industry for my "lack of experience in the game industry".

So, I'm trying to find out the differences. I've been a bit frustrated, because while there are differences, there's really no greater variance I can see than in other vertical markets. I wonder if there's less of an influx into the video game industry than between the other sectors I mention above, so maybe there's a false perception of difference? I don't know.

So I'm reading books like this to see what I don't know. This particular book appealed to me because I know (or know of) a bunch of contributing and reviewing folks for the book. Also, Mencher was working with the US Air Force prior to games, and I was working with Lockheed and the Department of Energy at one point in my career. Plus, the book has some actual differentiating sections, like "Traditional Software QA versus Games QA", and some stuff that strikes a chord with me, like, "Networking -- It's Focused Socializing. Do it for Life"; and the fact that day 1 of any new job should also equate to day one of your informal job search. I say more about that idea here.

I've also been digging into a bunch of IGDA articles, and looking at specific differences in the independent film, gaming and comic book scenes. I figure non-indie stuff could really benefit from some of the stuff indies do out of survival necessity.

Back to the book, I'm only 30 pages in, and so far there's nothing new (which is both encouraging and frustrating). There are a few typos and font errors, which are a personal pet peeve of mine.

I'm sure I'll have more to say on this later.

Monday, January 02, 2006

What If? Starring Captain America

As a Captain America fan, I was pretty disappointed with the recent Marvel What If? Starring Captain America.

I'll write later in a more thoughtful post about the importance and touchiness of Captain America as a literary icon, but it's enough to say this alternate Captain America story (putting Steve Rogers in the Civil War era), misses the mark of both the character, and the What If? premise.

What If? is supposed to be about alternate tellings of marvel tales, in a way that matters when things are changed up, or changes history by putting characters in disjoint time periods.

This story does none of that. It arbitrarily changes the role of Bucky, it changes the Red Skull to the White Skull (for white supremacists), and creates a legacy of Captain America's, where the current-day (great-great-grandson) is "General America" (ostensibly because progeny is supposed to supersede the accomplishments of ancestry). Overall, not really important stuff.

Anyway, not great overall, not even on the art front. I'd recommend a pass.