Before reading this comic the internet did what the internet did and so the ending was already spoiled. Which doesn’t make for the best reading experience. But I still went ahead and read it because I love myself some Steve Rogers.
Captain America – Steve Rogers #01
writer: Nick Spencer
artist: Jesus Saiz
Quick Review: First off, Jesus Saiz is a heck of an artist. Just beautiful. Beyond that, I am blown away. Its like someone made a list of things that they should put into a comic to ensure that outside of the art I get no enjoyment whatsoever. Abusive fathers? Check. Before no unrevealed but pivotal past elements? Check. Jokey dialogue that seems to mock what came before? Check. That particular spoiler that I will get into later? Check. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you a perfect storm of crap.
Spoilers Lurk Below
Analysis: Where to start with a comic that has so much wrong with it? Let me just get my pet peeves out of the way. These two are things that might not hurt the stories for others, but yank me out of the comic. One is the abusive father angle. I know this happens in real life and it is a tragedy, but having Cap’s father be an abusive drunk just doesn’t sit well with me. Thanks to Marvel Unlimited I’ve read a good 75% of the comics carrying Captain’s America name since Lee and Kirby brought him back in the 60’s. I don’t recall this being an element of Cap until Rememder getting his hands on the character. But like I said, that is a personal taste element.
As is revealing a hidden past story that now effects the current story. Even if you want to stick to modern Cap, that is over 50 years of stories. If a writer needs to resort to subverting history to tell their story, I often wonder if that story needs to be told. Admittedly there can be a fine line between subverting history and building on it. One of the things that made Brubaker such a great Cap scribe was his ability to build. This is further evidence that, in terms of Cap, Spencer is no Brubaker.
But no we are coming to the rancid meat of this story. First off the villains. The Red Skull is in this comic and his first line is “What an audience.” Every time I read that it sounds like Red Skull is performing at an open mic night. (“Take mein fuhrer, please!”) From there we get him rousing the rabble with hate speech. And Skull is an evil Nazi bastard, but having him giving a backyard speech at essentially a Klan rally feels like a petty use of the character. Doesn’t he have better things to do than give a speech to what looks like 20 nobodies? I’m not sure if the fault is in the script or the art but rather than seeming evil and mastermind it just feels silly. This is scary if it is being organized by your neighbor. If this is the best that the leader of an internationally known terrorist organization can do in a comic book world, it lacks a little punch.
As does Baron Zemo. Can I seriously ask if this is a joke? I mean it must be a joke having those characters and those personalities be the new Masters of Evil. They are acting more like they belong in a Tick comic than as a threat. What’s the point? Is this meant to mock Zemo if this is the best he can do? There is no tension in this comic because Spencer keeps undercutting it with jokey silliness and intentionally loser comics. Sure, that worked great in Superior Foes, but here it just creates a dissonance that works against him.
And this buffoonish-ness extends to almost all the minor players in the book. The Rick Jones, Jack Flag and Free Spirit exchanges are all pretty eye-roll worthy. But hey, the book treats them like they are morons, so why not characterize them as morons? Personally, I do remember the Jack Flag appearances in the DnA Guardians of the Galaxy. Rather than spending the comic making cheap jokes about him, they made him someone the reader could get behind and enjoy. That doesn’t happen here.
But really, if I’m going to review this comic I have to review the spoiler. So, here it comes.
Terrible. Just terrible. Really it is hard to find an angle that will make this an enjoyable moment. When you finish an issue and your thought isn’t “What happens next issue?” but rather “how long is this change going to exist before I actually get to read a Steve Rogers comic?” then something is wrong. I’ve been reading comics for a long time now. I can’t fathom there not being a catch. Mind control, or a clone, or being from another dimension, or the cosmic cube did it, or he is a spy or something. And all of those just feel boring, especially with this a starting place.
To be fair, as a story there is of course the possibility of it getting interesting, of winning me over. But it is going to be an uphill battle. And the tone of this particular issue, and how Spencer has been writing Sam Wilson’s book, does not give me much hope. I’m already thinking about the next renumbering/reboot.
Wrap Up: What I am having a hard time wrapping my head around is now that Captain America: Civil War is out and is further convincing people that Steve Rogers is a great character worth reading and worth celebrating, why is Marvel making it impossible to read a good, true to character, Steve Rogers comic? Chris Evans has embodied the things that made Steve such a great character, and now that character is no where to be found in Marvel comics. Marvel, please, bring Steve back.