Rick Remender (Writer), John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson (Artists), Dean White (Colorist)
The Story: Steve Rogers tries to find Ian, his son, yet Jet Black stands in his way toward his goal as he advance in Zola’s domain.
The Review: Intent is something that can be difficult to properly gauge. Sometimes, an author tries to give a certain tone or a certain mood to a story he is telling, yet does so in a way that is perhaps too subtle or ambiguous. This might lead to people not seeing the actual meaning behind some key scenes or the works that clearly influenced the take on a certain subject.
I am telling this right now because I am afraid that I might be confused as to the intent behind Rick Remender and his take on the sentinel of liberty. In some way, this seems to be a rather touching story about a man discovering how to be a father and doing what is right to save his son, yet in other ways this seems like a take on good old science-fiction stories from the 20’s and 30’s, like Buck Rogers. It seems to be both sometimes, yet at the same time it struggles between the cheesier aspect of the dialogue and the more touching and serious aspects of its script.
One of the key areas where this can be seen would be in the dialogue, which goes from touching and heartfelt to sometimes really clichéd. In the opening pages of the issue, we get a really great scene with Steve and Ian, who talks to the boy he had adopted as his son about the fact that he is happy right now that he can be with him, yet there is another place where we get one of the most overused dialogue trope ever conceived: the ‘’listen to your heart’’ speech. To summarize what this is, it’s a moment where someone on the evil side of the equation is convinced to join the good side not by arguments or with any actual proof, but rather by the good guy telling that person that it would be the right thing to do. I’m not saying that this specific trope cannot ever be used in smart ways, yet here in this issue it is used in a way that feels very corny, close to an unbelievable way. It removes a bit of the actual conflict and the character building that has been show, or rather it precipitates the development to full speed on the character of Jet Black, which seems a bit jarring and forced.
However, even if a lot of what I said about this issue seems to be on the negative, allow me to balance things out by talking about the better aspects of the book. First of all, the action here is very well done, with Steve Rogers fighting great odds one after another, which does give a lot of tension and adds drama to the whole story. Whether it’s when he’s fighting one of the captains of Zolandia, Jet Black or some of the guards, it can be seen he could be easily outmatched, yet he never backs down or despair when coming to face with such challenges.
This brings me to my next positive point about this issue: the characterization. While the development of Jet Black as a character was kind of forced, Steve Rogers has no such problem. Right here, we can see that Remender does get who he is, a man that once he has a cause to fight for, become unstoppable. Even when he is faced by great opponents, when he receives wounds or when pain is out to render him unconscious, he cannot give up, for he knows that Ian’s life is in danger. Remender has always had the reputation of truly putting his characters through the biggest challenges and that hold true to Captain America as he storms the domain of Arnim Zola.
He also has the reputation of giving a lot of great imagery for his artists to draws on, which John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson takes advantage of. Here, we get a lot of panels allowing us to savor the chaotic and technological wasteland of Dimension Z that are right next to panels full of action, showing us Steve fighting foes out there to kill him. The action, the expressions, the poses and the sheer energy of the script is rendered really well in each page, which is great to see, as John Romita Jr. can be a hit-and-miss artist sometimes.
Still, if there is a sure thing in the artistic part of this issue, it would have to be Dean White. Ever since I have first seen him in Uncanny X-Force, the man continued to impress me thanks to his degraded and nuanced color work and he does it again right here. The energy crackling, the molten lava, the reflection on Steve’s shield, nothing is amiss to make the color pop out and add credibility to the art.
The Conclusion: While the whole thing goes from cheesy to overly serious in a way that is ambiguous in its intent, the action and the art more than makes up for it as Steve’s adventure to save Ian from the clutches of Arnim Zola continues to be a fun ride.
-Hugo Robberts Larivière