Evil Geek Book Report – Captain America #1
Sure we do some retro reviews here at The Brotherhood of Evil Geeks, but I don’t think we’re going to get THAT retro this time. Although, I honestly can’t ever see Cap socking Hitler in the mouth too many times.
Ahhh much better! Welcome to the latest edition of Evil Geek Book Report! Today we Evil Geeks are going to be discussing the newly rebooted Captain America #1 by Rick Remender and John Romita Jr. We’ve surprisingly enjoyed the majority of the MarvelNow reboot so far, will we be as kind to Cap’s new book? Or has the reboot mojo finally run out for Marvel?
I honestly have mixed emotions on this book. On the one hand, I’m a huge Captain America fan. I’ll admit that I haven’t always been a fan of Cap; growing up in the late 80’s and 90’s, Cap, Iron Man, and the rest of the Avengers spent the majority of those decades frozen in a block of mediocre story telling. These characters that are now the powerhouses of the Marvel money machine, were little more than glorified B Listers during the time that Spidey and the X-Men ruled the House of Ideas. I spent most of my adolescent comic life with zero to no interest in any Avengers related stuff, but over the past decade, Marvel’s managed to breathe new life into Captain America, making the character not only relevant to today’s modern world, but also the home of some incredible stories (Ed Brubaker, ‘Nuff Said!) Call me a fair-weather friend if you will, but my love for the character was only ignited during this recent renaissance. So I’m partially biased in that I really want this to be a good book. On the other hand… I can’t help but feel the story is a little bit familiar.
The story starts out with the type of high action that you’re used to seeing Capt. Rogers involved in. A plane commandeered by a Red-Skull wannabe with a flair for environmentalism named Green Skull, is plummeting towards Manhattan, with Captain America clinging to the side for dear life. The Skull has loaded the plane with a bomb that will unleash an unstoppable wave of vegetation that will instantly spread across the city, killing everyone in the area. Spoiler alert: Cap saves the day. Afterwards, Steve and Sharon Carter are preparing to head out for an evening of fun. It’s Steve’s 90th birthday and SHIELD is throwing him one heck of a bash (I’m sure at the Marvel U’s taxpayers’ expense). Sharon and Steve head down to the secret entrance to the SHIELD base under New York City, but they end up getting separated. Steve winds up on what he thinks is a subway car that will take him to the party, but it actually turns out to be a trap. After being restrained, the other people in the subway car with Cap reveal themselves to be grotesque monsters of some sort, right before one of them jabs a needle full of sedatives into Steve’s neck. When he reawakens, Steve finds himself fastened to a table in a strange lab, next to a baby floating in a tank. There are tubes pumping drugs into Cap and others pumping blood out of him. As Cap slowly regains consciousness, the villain behind the kidnapping reveals himself to be none other than the robotic former Nazi scientist, Arnim Zola!
Zola has some nasty plans in store for Steve, including using his blood to somehow mutate Zola’s “son”. Zola either underestimates Steve’s strength or his manacle guy must have gotten a shipment of sub-par restraints from China, because Steve is eventually able to break free and make an incredibly daring escape (all while somehow changing into his costume in the process). In the process of making his exit, Cap manages to snag the tank baby, a.k.a Zola’s son and takes the boy with him. Once outside the lab and a safe distance away, Cap begins to notice that his surrounds are a little bit off. The last place he remembers being is in Manhattan, but it now appears that he has been transported to a place known as Dimension Z. In the end, it’s Cap, he’s got a baby, and he’s stranded in a strange time and/or place. Hmmmmm…. Call me crazy, I have a feeling we’ve done this before.
I really liked the way this story started, with Cap in the plane taking down the Green Skull. There’s a really great panel in that scene where the Skull sets off a grenade filled with the same foliant that’s in the bomb. Instead of hitting Cap with the blast, the vegetation ends up impaling and killing one of the Skull’s men. As Cap is hearing him scream in agony, he thinks to himself “That’s what the millions of people in the city are going to sound like if I don’t stop this bomb.” That panel really stood out to me, because it’s such a strong demonstration of Steve’s character. He’s been beaten to a pulp, he’s got a broken hand, and he’s on a plane that’s about to slam into the ground… but he’s not forgetting why he’s there and he’s not giving up hope (Apparently Marvel isn’t giving up Hope either, because it seems like they’re reusing her story line, but I digress). He’s doing everything he can to protect the people of his country, up to and including giving his life. How is this dynamic going to work in a world where there is no America for Steve to be Captain of?
Is he still going to be motivated to protect? Clearly he is, because he rescued the baby before he escaped. That aspect of the character will work in this new environment, but the thing I think kind of bugs me about this story (aside from the superhero taking care of a baby recycled story line) is that Cap isn’t a cosmic level character. I want to see Cap smacking around some HYDRA thugs, AIM goons, and terrorists of all sorts. He’s like an American James Bond, he’s at his best when he’s on a secret mission for the government he’s sworn allegiance to. How would you like it if all of a sudden in his next movie, James Bond starts flying X-Wings? Actually, that’s a bad example… I kind of would want to see that. Anyway, the point of this diatribe is that Steve’s going to be a fish out of water for the time being and I’m not sure if I like that. This story seems like it’d be a better fit for the FF; because of that, I think it’s going to be tough to enjoy Captain America in this environment. I’m hoping to be proved wrong, but my initial impression of this story is thus: Meh. I’m a bigger fan of what Remender is doing over on Uncanny Avengers. I really dig Romita’s art though. As a younger comic nerd, I was never a big fan but over the years I’ve grown quite fond of it. If you’re a fan of his astounding art, then I recommend this title.
That’ll wrap up the comic reviews for today, Evil Geeks. Stop by again later for another Evil Geek Book Report!
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