When you see the names Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale on a comic book, you know you need to buy it. Individually, these men have accomplished an insane amount in the comic industry, becoming household names among readers. And together, they are unstoppable. Something special happens when Loeb and Sale join forces—something that transcends their work apart. Works like Batman: The Long Halloween, Superman for All Seasons, and Batman: Dark Victory are some of the best comics ever made about the medium’s greatest characters. Then, of course, there are the Loeb and Sale Marvel books: Daredevil: Yellow, Spider-Man: Blue, and Hulk: Grey—each with a simple, color-coded title that thematically relates to the story of the book. Each one is a work of art and you should check them all out, but Loeb and Sale’s latest Marvel outing, Captain America: White feels like essential reading… especially given that March 1 2016 marks the 75th anniversary of Captain America #1.
Captain America: White #0, our first glimpse at the series, came out in 2008. Flash forward to 2016, and we are finally holding the complete six-issue series in our hands. It’s not a particularly thick book, but Captain America: White has a lot of weight. It’s a story of a simpler time, back when things were more black and white. The Nazis were the bad guys and fighting them at any cost was the right thing to do. It’s the story of a friendship, a bond, and a love that would become the hallmark of the Captain America character. Like most of Loeb and Sale’s Marvel collaborations, it’s about loss—about knowing there is a hole inside you that can never quite be filled.
The plot is a simple one: a flashback narrated by a modern day Steve Rogers about war and heroism. It would have been easy for Loeb and Sale to simply retell the story of Bucky’s death. But instead, they show us the constant sacrifice, trust, and strength that soldiers—even ones in brightly colored costumes—had to face. Through Bucky and Cap, they tell a tale about being willing to risk everything for your best friend, who you truly love like family, and never knowing when that risk might lead to a moment that will be your last together. It’s about never being able to say goodbye.
As is to be expected, Captain America: White is gorgeous. Visually, there’s nothing else like Tim Sale firing on all cylinders. His style of cartooning is fun, yet heartfelt and frantic. He balances the absurd with the monstrous with the skill of a true master. His panels move like a cartoon, fluid and graceful. Captain America never looks anything less than heroic, and Red Skull looks beyond horrifying. From big moments to small, Sale brings so much weight to this book that it feels impossible to lift. Even when things get downright sappy—and they do often get a little sappy—Sale’s storytelling keeps you hooked.
You can’t talk about the beauty of Captain America: White without talking about Dave Stewart’s amazing colors. Stewart’s coloring brings a immediacy to the work, a sense that the page you are holding is a one-of-a-kind, not a mere reproduced comic book page. You can see the brush strokes, see the attention to detail in every panel. Whether Stewart did this digitally or with a brush and/or pen is irrelevant, because it feels handcrafted. The fact that Dave Stewart’s name is not on the cover of this volume is a damn crime, because his contribution to this book is immeasurable.
Captain America: White was a long time in the making, having been announced nearly a decade ago. As it happens, the delay worked out, because we now have the perfect book to celebrate Cap’s 75th anniversary. Is Captain America: White Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s best work together? Maybe not, but it’s up there with some of the best and leaps and bounds above other superhero books on the stands. When you see the name Loeb and Sale on a comic book, you buy that comic book. Write that down and commit it to memory. These guys are storytellers in a class all their own and Captain America: White testament to that.
5 out of 5 Burritos