Review by Frank Plowright
The seven chapters of the Red Menace story deliver a more cohesive read when gathered from two separate books. The plot generator is the Red Skull, trapped as a disembodied entity within the head of powerful Russian businessman Aleksander Lukin, and battling for control of his mind. Lukin already schemed on a grand scale, and the Skull’s influence can expedite those plans.
The art is split between regular series penciller Steve Epting, and the inker of later chapters of his Winter Soldier work Mike Perkins, who delivers a seamless approximation of Epting’s detailed style for a book that looks very stylish indeed.
Red Menace has Captain America and Sharon Carter searching for Winter Soldier, first in the USA, then in the UK, enabling effective guest appearances from Union Jack and Spitfire. Writer Ed Brubaker prods his story forward towards the Death of Captain America, revitalises a villain previously considered cured, and provides a resolution of sorts to the Winter Soldier storyline. The villains pulling the strings are largely separate from the main cast, but those providing the immediate threat include some it’s surprising to see in the 21st century. There’s an updated version of World War II Nazi zealot Master Man, a descendent of the original, and a giant robot rampaging through London, last seen as created by Jack Kirby in the late 1960s.
There is the disturbing element of what is to all intents and purposes a helpless teenage girl battered by brutal villain Crossbones. There’s a weak plot justification, and those highlighting the inappropriate nature of this scene were dismissed in regrettable fashion by the editor of the original comics. Suffice to say it’s not Brubaker’s finest moment. The same comment might apply to the book overall. While it’s fun and readable, to the reader aware of what’s coming there’s a sense of treading water.
The content is also available with much else within Captain America by Ed Brubaker Omnibus volume 1.