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Captain America #1 – Review

By: Rick Remender (story), John Romita Jr. (pencils), Klaus Janson (inks), Dean White (colors), and Joe Caramagna (letters)

The Story:  Steve Rogers unwittingly escapes the prospect of marriage by hopping onto a train to…..DIMENSION Z!!!!!

The Review:  “Bold new direction” is sort of a buzz-line that is a dime a dozen in comics solicitations and promotion and, more often than not, it’s a gross exaggeration, if not an outright lie.  Frankly, of all the Marvel NOW relaunches thus far, Thor: God of Thunder has been the only one to live up to that phrase thus far.  Well, you can now add Captain America to that list.

Ed Brubaker, having been on Cap for 8 years, basically established what felt like “the Captain America story.”  It was all too easy to see Cap fall to the same pattern that Daredevil did pre-Waid, with new writers working within a particular mold with ever diminishing returns.  I’m glad we were able to skip all that creative quicksand this time around, jumping headfirst into the paradigm shifting run that reshapes the property’s landscape entirely.

That this book is so different, both in the writing and in the art, from anything we’ve seen from Cap in years makes it a tremendously easy comic to like.  This is signature Remender, as he delivers the beginnings of a pulpy sci-fi adventure.  We’re only one issue in, and already this is feeling like Marvel worked some necromancy to have Edgar Rice Burroughs write a Captain America comic.  You’ve your superpowered, ordinary mortal man surrounded by pissed off, war-mongering aliens led by a cackling, ludicrous villain and stranded in an unfamiliar, unknown alien landscape.  In other words, pulp sci-fi at its best.

That’s not to say that Remender abandons EVERYTHING that Brubaker established.  Namely, Remender keeps Brubaker’s signature narration by Cap.  For readers that have followed Remender’s run on Venom, it will be instantly clear that his time on that title prepared him well for this one.  Once again, Remender executes that terse, taut, and efficient narration, that uniquely abrupt and desperate play-by-play that’s a perfect fit for a military hero.

It’s also clear that Remender is playing the long-game here so as promising as this issue is, more than any Marvel Now title, I truly feel that it’s a matter of “you ain’t seen nothing yet” because as fun as this issue is, it’s clear that it’s nothing more than the barest introduction.  Remender is ushering us into a completely different world with Dimension Z.  More than that, I also enjoyed his depiction of the relationship between Steve and Sharon; it sets up a very special homecoming for Steve once he gets back and despite only being one issue in, it makes his return all the more desirable for reader and character alike, the separation and the journey home all the more important.

We also get yet another Remender creation in the opening scene with the one-off Green Skull, who was positively delightful to read, a completely ludicrous eco-terrorist that I couldn’t help but smile at.  The opening scene also somehow adds a further dimension to Steve, showing Remender can write with heart as well, delivering an unflinching portrayal of domestic abuse and its emotional impact in a way that is brutal, but not even close to feeling exploitive.  It also leads to the birth of a fantastic motivational catch-line for Steve that I have the feeling will linger over the rest of Remender’s run.

Honestly, there wasn’t anything on Remender’s end that I didn’t like.  It’s only John Romita Jr.’s art that is a mixed bag.  In some scenes, I feel like I’m seeing some of the best, most polished work I’ve seen from him with a lot of creativity and an epic scope and scale.  On the other hand, that opening scene from Steve’s childhood was very rough.  All told, it’s inconsistent but, overall,  fun art and for the most part, the uber talented Klaus Janson and Dean White do a lot to cover for Romita’s weaknesses.

Conclusion:  Fantastic, in your face stuff that’s unlike any Captain America comic you’ve ever read.  Already a stand-out amongst the Marvel NOW crop.

Grade: A-

-Alex Evans

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2 Responses

  1. Wanted to like this. But, for a Marvel comic wanting new readers – the opening scene/page of a man hitting a woman (twice) just left a bad taste in the mouth. Not very nice to see – and not something I’d give to friends to read. Disappointed that Remender thinks shock value is the only way to introduce a comic.

    • I think you skipped the dialogue entirely if you thought the purpose of that scene was merely “shock value.”

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