Saturday, February 18, 2012

Red Skull: Incarnate #5

Cover by David Aja

Red Skull: Incarnate #5 (November 30, 2011)
Writer: Greg Pak
Penciller: Mirko Colak
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: Clayton Cowles


Six months after I first picked up Red Skull #1, I have finally read the last of the Red Skull: Incarnate series, one of my absolute favorite comic runs in the last year.

Pak delivered an engrossing and very realistic-feeling origin story for Red Skull, a character that I originally thought of as rather over-the-top. Pak’s characterization of Johann Schmidt as dynamic but ultimately having extreme antisocial personality disorder made the character seem fresh and also engaging. While I didn’t like Schmidt as a character (which I doubt Pak wanted from the reader anyway), I cared about what he did and what happened to him because I knew that he would carry every experience towards his darker end as Red Skull.

Anyway, onto issue #5. Schmidt, Dieter and Dieter’s friends are about to embark on their plot to kill Hitler. Dieter, who spent several months in Dachau, obviously has clear reasons for wanting to kill Hitler but Schmidt’s reasoning is purposely vague. After all, the reader knows he eventually becomes Red Skull, so why would he want to off Hitler?

I don’t want to divulge what exactly happens in this conclusion because I highly recommend for readers to pick this up. The trade paperback was released this month, in fact. It’s a solid read and perfectly balances between historical fact and comic book lore.

Suffice to say, this concluding issue featured Schmidt’s transcendence into the Nazi party and the almost indifferent evil he is capable of. In fact, after finishing this series, I can’t say that Schmidt believes in any of the Nazi party’s doctrine at all. If anything, he loves power and at this time in Germany, Hitler is his ticket to power. I really admired Pak’s decision to focus on the dangerous temptations of power for the future Red Skull, as I think this is the driving force behind his characterization rather than any real love for the Nazi party.

I’m still kind of hot and cold with Colak’s art. While I do think it did justice to the atmosphere and storyline of Red Skull: Incarnate, there were just some panels that I found rather off-putting. His rendition of facial expressions in particular struck me as rather odd and melodramatic. Nonetheless, he did manage to illustrate the tense and frankly scary atmosphere of Nazi Germany. Wilson’s coloring meanwhile was fabulous and perfect for this series.

Anyway, if you have a chance, definitely pick up Red Skull: Incarnate. It’s perfect for both a novice in Captain America mythos and for seasoned fans. At the end of this run, I can say that it’s just an awesome look into the boy who would become one of Marvel’s crucial villains.

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