The Avengers and X-Men’s Epic Battle is over. Scott went insane. Charley took the dirt nap. Hope and Wanda made everything better. So Now what?
Well, NOW is the time for Marvel to shuffle the deck and play a new hand. It’s relaunch city as The House of Ideas brings us 20-something new #1s with all-new creative teams over the next 5 months. What will the new 23 have in store for us Marvel Zombies? Well, be sure to check out this column each week as we dissect the first issue of every new title under the Marvel Now Banner. And I don’t mean Bruce Banner…..well except when the title has the Hulk in it….you get what I mean. So sit back and relax as we check out what’s new in the 616.
Out of all the heroes at Marvel, Captain America is the guy who’s always stood up for what’s right. In the world of comic book sales, he’s the guy that has stood pretty tall over the past few years thanks to the work of Ed Brubaker. Oddly enough, the peak time during that run was when Steve Rogers was “dead” and the sheild was carried by his former sidekick James “Bucky” Barnes, aka The Winter Soldier. Upon Cap’s return to his own book, the stories took a bit of a nosedive. I’m not saying they were bad. Just not to the standard that I once held them. So it’s a very welcome change to have Rick Remender and John Romita Jr. as the new creative team for the relaunch of Captain America. Remender’s work on Uncanny X-Force over the past few years has put him at the forefront of Marvel as he’s not only been given this book, but Uncanny Avengers as well. John Romita Jr. will always be in my book the artist you want on a fast paced heroic adventure book, which I think this title will shape up to be. Remender and JR JR seem like the perfect duo to take care of the Sentinel of Liberty and this first issue is a prime example of their qualifications.
We begin our tales with a flashback to Lower East Manhattan in 1926. It’s a tough time for any Irish family and the Rogers are no exception. We see Steve’s father lash out his mother as he berates and beats her in a drunken rage. But the woman takes it and stands up to her husband, even though only more venom and brutality await. But she doesn’t back down and he leaves the house in shame. When he’s gone, she tells Steve it okay to come out. It’s here where Steve learns to “always stand up.” We cut forward to the present where Cap has just taken down a twobit eco-terrorist called the Green Skull. He asks a local authority to call in the Avengers to clean up as he’s late for a date. He meets up with Sharon Carter and the two discuss his birthday (he’s just turned 90) as well as infiltrate an illegal subway line in order to find out it’s purpose and destination. As they reach the subway, Sharon confronts him about their relationship. She recently proposed marriage and Steve’s been distant ever since. He avoids dealing with this by advancing on the mission alone. It’s then that it’s revealed that this was all a trap. An old foe cooked up this diversion to get his hands on the Super Soldier and more specifically the serum that runs through his blood. Cap make his escape but finds out that he’s not in Manhattan anymore. In fact, he’s not in the same demension anymore…..and he’s now got two things that his enemy wants.
As the Marvel Now relaunch has been slowly rolling out over these past few weeks, I can honestly say that none of the books have blown me away. I was surprised that I enjoyed Iron Man as much as I did. I really liked the set up of All New X-Men. Thor: God of Thunder was entertaining and well executed. But none of these titles knocked me on my ass and told me that “this is the book you should keep reading”. That is, until now. Captain America is the first titlle to really not only capture the essence of it’s character perfectly but do so in a way that continues to inform you about the character without having to re-live his origin or dissasociate itself from the past. This book pays tribute everything that’s come before and delivers you a story that feels fresh. Sharon Carter’s still here. The villain is a classic Cap adversary. But both characters feel like they’re been giving some new tricks up their sleeves. Steve Rogers himself is also shown in a strong light as his character is displayed through his actions and not exposition. We get to see Cap in action twice in this issue and both times, he displays both his strategic mind and his athletic prowess. Add to that the introduction of a sci-fi angle and you’ve got some fantastic action and adventure with the promise of more to come. But all of these momemts are secondary to the very simple but perfect opening to this book. This three page flashback to 1926 tells you everything you need to know to understand why Steve grew up to become the defender of the defenseless and why he has such a strong will. I’m not sure if there has ever been a moment in Cap’s history that showcases his mother in this light but regardless, this was truly an eye-opening moment for the character. I love it when we see a character who’s traditionally shown as a victim who refuses to be as such. It’s a powerful moment made all the more by the striking visuals that accompany it.
The artwork on Captain America #1 is top notch as JR JR pulls no punches in his delivery. Re-teamed wit hKlaus Janson on inks, Romita brings us some of his finest work to date that appears to share the warm colours and styling that he’s recently been employing on his Kick-Ass/Hit Girl work. The action sequences feel ferocious and the establishing shot of the Citadel in Dimension Z looks beautiful. His art, while bashed by some for it simplicity, has always impressed me by it’s almost desperate pacing. We’re always barreling forward at breakneck speeds. The excitement is always kept high when John Romita Jr. is on pencils. I’m very interested to see his take on this “other” world that this arc inhabits.
After reading this review, it’ll be no surprise to you that I am suggesting you pick up Captain America #1 and add this series to your pull list. I feel that like The Winter Soldier and Death of Cap storylines of recent years, this story will be a memorable one for the Star-Spangled Anvenger.
So this 1st Issue is done but there’s plenty more to come. Check back here in the coming week’s to find out which books are worth your time which are a waste of it.
And if you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!
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