America and Bucky run up against vampires in war torn,
Belgium circa 1945. As the story opens, Captain
America is consoling a dying American soldier. It’s a touching scene, but quickly devolves into B-movie-like campiness when the recently dead soldier springs to undead life with a taste for blood. Captain
America and Bucky spend the rest of the issue tracking down and killing vampires, while seeking info from a local gypsy woman on the source of the vampire infestation. It turns out that the Nazis (of course) are involved with this particular reign of terror, along with Baron Blood, and an officer by the name of Helmutt Von Schuler. While Captain
America and Bucky don’t ever encounter these two directly, they do eventually track down the source vampire behind the current blood-sucking goings on.
America and Bucky vs. vampires, as a story idea, seems a bit trite. With all of the seriousness going on in Captain
America’s book recently though, including him dying, Bucky taking up his mantle, and Steve Rogers getting Reborn, a simple self contained tale of supernatural spookiness might be in order to give us all a breather. It’s a filler issue to be sure, and a bit melodramatic, if unnecessarily so. Real life Nazis were horrifying enough, and adding vampires to their ranks adds a bit of silly fantasy to their very real evil, which had nothing silly about it. There’s a long history of fantasy and horror tales featuring Nazis and the occult, though. The overall theme of fear being “the deadliest weapon of all,” is always a relevant one, and this is the point Brubaker is making with this tale. Fear paralyses, and creates chaos, and brave soldiers like Captain
America and Bucky who overcome fear, and are not bound or directed by it, are true heroes.
The real value in this issue is it’s being penciled and inked by the legendary Gene Colan. Colan was a highly influential and popular artist on many Marvel titles like Daredevil, Iron Man, and Sub-Mariner, to name a few. His style might not be as appealing to the comic books readers of the last 20 years or so who have been thoroughly “Jim Lee-ed,” but Colan was as much a pioneer and trend setter for his day as Jim Lee is for the current age. It’s a real treat to see some fresh art from him on a classic character.
Overall, while Captain America #601 isn’t really an integral part of the overarching Marvel events Dark Reignor Captain
America: Reborn, it’s a fun break between major events, and a great piece of artwork from a Marvel legend.