Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 Writer: Nick Spencer Artist: Jesus Saiz Letters: Joe Caramagna Publisher: Marvel
Note: This review will reveal spoilers as it’s necessary in order to properly discuss.
For nearly 2 years now, the mantel of Captain America has been held by Sam Wilson, formally known as Falcon. He took up the challenge after Steve Rogers’ super-soldier serum had worn off and his old age had finally started to show. This isn’t the first time someone else held the iconic shield. In 2007 Steve Rogers was assassinated by the villain Crossbones in the story “The Death of Captain America”, written by Ed Brubaker. Yes, Steve Rogers died in his own titled series and not in the Civil War event by Mark Millar. Due to these events, Bucky Barnes the Winter Soldier assumed the role until the Steve Rogers’ inevitable return in “Captain America Reborn”. But that’s enough digressing for now, on to this issue which opinions on it exploded on social media.
Steve Rogers is back, presumably as a result of the events of Avengers Standoff which I didn’t keep up with(lost interest). Doing what the boy scout always does, taking down Hydra. This time they’ve hijacked a train and we get a background on one of the Hydra soldiers and how he found himself working for them. What’s important to take away form the back story is the Red Skull. We see him riling people up with a speech full of hate. Writer Nick Spencer is obviously trying to reminiscent a certain man running for US President. I won’t say who it is but lets just say he’s very insecure about his hand size.
Eventually Rogers is able take back control of the train with the help of Jack Flag and Free Spirit and being a Nick Spencer book of course, this issue isn’t lacking in humor. There’s a humorous scene where the 2 are poking fun at all the previous dopey moments in Captain America’s publications, particularly his costumes.
Throughout the comic, there are flashback scenes during Steve’s childhood. We see that his father isn’t the best of men to say the least, as he’s an unemployed alcoholic who has no problem in beating his wife. During an altercation involving the couple, Steve’s mother, Sarah is saved by a mysterious women with combative skills. She takes Sarah and Steve out to dinner and seems to be well intended. That is until the night comes to a close and we see what her real motives are. I won’t spoil it but it does tie into this completely polarizing ending.
Speaking of that, lets discuss it. Since this comic is coming out just weeks after the release of Captain America: Civil War, it should come as a surprise to no one that Baron Zemo makes an appearance. After foiling his plans with assistance from Jack Flag, Rogers throws the man off the in flight plane and says, “Hail Hydra”. People have been calling this twist from brilliant to blasphemy. I’m leaning more towards the latter but will define it as annoyance more so than anger.
Steve Rogers is in many ways Marvel’s Superman. He’s the one character you can count on to always do the right thing, or at least what he perceives to be. So why would they tie him to what is depicted here as a hate group? The answer is that this is nothing more than a gimmick. All regular comic book readers know that the chances that Marvel will make this permanent is highly unlikely. It’s possible of course but the odds aren’t with it. In the end however it’s all about good story and Nick Spencer writes a solid issue here. Unfortunately the twist has a sour taste of editorial mandate in order to up the sales numbers and take advantage of the character being in the public eye.
Artist Jesus Saiz present a very mixed bag in this issue. I loved the look and the style of the flashback scenes of Steve Rogers’ childhood. It’s set in 1920’s New York and has a gorgeous neo-noir vibe to it. It’s unfortunately bogged down by the visuals of present in one particular category, the faces. They come off as very clay like and it’s distracting from the story while reading it. Sharon Carter for some reason is drawn to look much older. I haven’t kept up with the character since Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America so I don’t know if something happened in the past to explain it. It’s just rather jarring to see her age so much in a short amount of time.
This issue is incredibly frustrating. Nick Spencer is a strong writer who can write a well paced story, engaging dialogue, solid character moments, and natural comedy. In those terms there are no negatives with this comic. However, the twist is grating and reeks of gimmick and editorial mandate. The artwork is stunning in moments and distracting in others. I want to give this comic a positive review because the positives do outweigh the negatives. However the negatives are too agonizing and distracting to overlook.
Score: 2.5 out of 5
Review by Eric Bradach
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