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Post By
Tannhauser

In Reply To
ireactions

Subj: Re: gruenwald run - what happened?
Posted: Thu Oct 21, 2010 at 11:55:30 am EDT (Viewed 391 times)
Reply Subj: gruenwald run - what happened?
Posted: Thu Oct 21, 2010 at 12:54:43 am EDT (Viewed 30 times)

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Mark Gruenwald was responsible for some of the most important and definitive storylines in the Captain America title. Standouts include the whole "Captain" arc where Steve gives up the Captain America identity to a government-sponsored version, "Streets of Poison" confronting the idea that Captain America might not be much of a superhero without having taken a drug, and much, much more.

But the tail-end of the Gruenwald run is torpedoed by tiresome, dull, wheeszingly lengthy plotlines of dreary misery. That whole "Cap is Dying" arc almost killed me too with its tedium and total joylessness. Captain America stories can have dark moments, but there always needs to be some light at the end of the tunnel. Gruenwald's run had lost its light. Thankfully, Mark Waid made it shine brightly again.

I doubt poor Mark was responsible for many of the flaws, though... Marvel's general creativity was horrifically low at the time, probably due to outside circumstances and interfering editors. It's just sad that he's often remembered as the dull, miserable writer who came before Mark Waid.

- Ib

You have to keep a few things in mind.

1) Marvel Comics in the early 1990s made a lot of foolish choices, and one of those was to emphasize style over substance. Rather than concentrating on good art and writing, Marvel pushed crossovers and gimmicks and overexposure of its stars. By the large, the management didn't support good storytelling at the time, and it had to weigh heavily on Gruenwald.

2) My guess is that Gruenwald's health had something to do with it. Mark Gruenwald died of a heart attack a few years after leaving the book. I believe he knew he didn't have much time left, and spent the last two years on the book examining concepts of death and a hero's legacy (a lot of that "Cap is Dying" arc dealt with Steve Rogers' acceptance of his mortality and attempts to find someone to carry on the Captain America tradition). These are not fun concepts to explore in a conventional comic book, and I'm sure Marvel's management gave him a lot of grief for the direction he was taking. With the strain of his health and pressure from his bosses, his heart wasn't in it anymore.

Most longtime Cap fans recognize Gruenwald's contributions and the overall quality of his work. Hopefully the upcoming Cap movie will spur more reprints, and the comics world at large will come to appreciate his work as well.