Last December, my good friend and fellow read/RANT! reviewer, Mandy, ordered me the Captain America Omnibus for my birthday. It’s the kind of gift only a really good friend would give, and one that is friendly to the crack habit that is comics. Of course, being the super awesome dude I am, I already own the entire run of Captain America, from his first re-appearance in Tales of Suspense to the latest copy that arrives next week. But, Mandy knows I’m also an avid hardcover collector (like all pretendy* comic collectors with money to burn), so the gift was a good choice.
I got some time to kill till my next shipment of comics arrives, so I thought I’d give this epic tale another read through, and it’s always fun to “break in” a new hardcover. This will be my third time through this particular run, the second time being last year while doing research for the Civil War set… research that eventually got folded into the Marvel Universe expansion coming out in June (PLUG!!!). Now, I’m not going to do your standard review of this 25 issue epic, other than to say it stands, so far, as part of what will be the greatest run on Captain America of all-time. And you know what? You all already know that. There’s been so much masturbation about this run, well deserved masturbation but still… that anything I say won’t make a slight bit of difference.
What I will talk about is how lovely this hardcover package is. Just look at this neat-o back cover. My OCD tendencies dance a jig every time I see how nice those regular and variant covers fit together. An 8×4 square of perfect harmony. Even the headline at the top is epic. “THE LIFE OF A LEGEND. THE DEATH OF A DREAM.” I’m giddy just thinking about cracking this sucker open. What else do you get with the hardcover collection that you don’t with single issues? For starters, you get way better paper quality and oversized pages. The oversized pages make these things more expensive, sure, but the 75 bucks is totally worth it, dude. And anyway, who pays full retail anymore? If you can’t find this thing for at least 40% off, it’s nobody’s fault but your own.
The publisher even sets the issues in chronological order, stuffing the 65th anniversary issue in the middle, the Winter Kills one-shot right before issue 25 and places the out-of-story-continuity House of M tie-in at the end, inserting it merely for completeness sake. Marvel also tosses in three “Marvel Spotlight” interviews with Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting. Additionally, the back matter contains newspaper clippings, early character designs for Winter Soldier, Sin, The Sleeper… sorry about the image quality, the book is too heavy and awkward to scan… cover roughs, full color variant covers, layouts for an issue of Cap by Epting, unused variant covers and the full script to the best-selling Captain America #25 with notes by Ed Brubaker, AND, if that wasn’t enough reading material, they toss in the Marvel Handbook entries for Captain America and Winter Soldier! Seriously, this thing is packed full of extras.
If you’ve never read Captain America and are looking for a great, pulpy read (and you got some cash to throw around or a really good friend that owes you money), pick this baby up. I think it’s on its second printing now and I’d put good money on it selling out again. So get it before there ain’t none left to get.
*pretendy: the combination of the words pretentious and trendy.