By Ed Brubaker (writer), Dale Eaglesham (artist), Andy Troy (colorist)
The Story: Steve Rogers, now America’s premiere Spymaster and national security czar, infiltrates a party held by Nextin Pharmaceuticals to investigate rumors that the company has perfected the Super Soldier Formula and is planning to sell it to the highest bidder.
The Good: Not much, which sucks because I was really looking forward to this story when I first heard about it. While I love the idea of Steve Rogers taking over Nick Fury’s role as America’s top superspy, the execution of that idea has left me feeling very underwhelmed. I have yet to see Rogers in any comic ever really acting like a spy; even though his mask is off and he’s now prone to wearing black turtle necks, he still acts like a superhero and, more to the point, a soldier. He’s still given to charging headfirst into a battle and pounding his opponents into a pulp whereas any other spy, like…oh, say, Fury, would have done his very best to avoid that same conflict. It occurred to me, reading this issue, that Rogers really doesn’t do subterfuge very well; don’t get me wrong, I rather liked that scene of him zip lining into the hotel in Madripoor in the middle of the night, but he still had to resort to busting some heads, in a conspicuously pro-American, Captain Americaish costume, to get the job done. What I can’t get my head around right now is whether Rogers is supposed to be a superhero pretending to be a spy or a soldier reassigned to law enforcement. For me, this issue was a little too much superhero and not enough superspy, and I’m hoping Brubaker can correct that next month.
The Not So Good: I’ve been stumped on this one, sipping Jim for an hour now trying to prioritize the many lackluster bits about this comic you need to know about before deciding if you need to buy it. I think it’s important to point out that for a first issue, this mini-series already seems like the kind of slow-burn, potboiler story that might do better as a graphic novel collection, but even then I might be letting my affection for this character cloud my judgment. Stories about Rogers going after someone who claims to have access to the Super Soldier Formula just aren’t interesting. Moreso when you consider that he’s now Marvel’s answer to James fucking Bond! With the potential now in place to tell stories with Rogers that could easily make Bond, Bourne, and even Metal Gear Solid all look weak and ineffectual, why oh why are we still wasting time examining the seventy-year old catalyst that made Rogers the man he is today?! I got the impression this comic was written for people who already had a familiarity with the character and his history, so it seemed a bit redundant to me that they’d not only make his link to the Super Soldier Formula the central theme of this issue, but then reprint his eight-page origin story from the 40’s as well. And as much as I try to like his work, Eaglesham never quite seems to hit the mark for me. I don’t like the way his characters always seem to have grossly misshapen bodies with heads that look like squinting blocks Jack Kirby sketched out in a moment of utter boredom. Yes, Eaglesham can choreograph a page with the best of them, but what good is that when his art is so unappealing to look at?! Finally, and sadly, I was simply not entertained with this issue. There was absolutely no motivation for me to want to pick up the next issue other than the meager hope that things might get interesting enough to want to stick around. But I’m kind of doubting it.
Conclusion: Captain America as James Bond. What’s not to love about an idea like that?! I came into this issue with high hopes, but was disappointed with what I felt was an incredibly generic, uninteresting comic. The status quo has changed for Rogers and his future is waiting to be written, so why does this issue dwell in the past like it’s something to be proud of?