by Rick Remender (Writer), John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson, Tom Palmer, Scott Hanna (Artists), Dean White, Rachelle Rosenberg (Colorists)
The Story: Jet has second thought about the plans of her father as Steve and Sharon tries to convince her that perhaps her father was an enormous and villainous jerk.
The Review: Conclusions are hard. A lot might say that it’s never the ending that actually count rather than the journey itself, but let’s be honest that it’s always kind of disappointing when a story hit a lots of notes right only to end in a way that feels off.
This issue of Captain America does not actually reach a level of disappointment that makes it unpleasant to read, yet there are several elements that, considering the level of talent here, could have been handled better.
One of them is the pacing, as the issue seems to differ in the space it amounts to several scenes. While many of the previous issues went full speed ahead through the chaos that is Dimension Z as Steve Rogers fought the many monstrosities of science that inhabits it, Remender always kept it full of action and crazy concepts. Those issues were crammed with lots of ideas and most of the scenes never wore their welcome. Here, though, there are mainly three things that happens: Jet fly toward the rocketing city in doubt about what her father was doing, Sharon Carter confronts Arnim Zola and Steve gets out of Dimension Z as he is still in shock over what happened. There are myriads of details to these scenes, of course, yet it all boils down to those three key events in the issue, plus an epilogue.
Of course, the length of these scenes is to make sure the emotional impact is relevant to the readers, who spent the best of 10 issues in this mad landscape created by Remender. It arguably work for Sharon Carter as she faces down a giant Arnim Zola, giving her a moment for her to shine in this arc, but not so much for Jet Black. For this character who has been introduced quite well in this series, the sudden turn she does seems a bit too quick. She had been so eager to live to her new found principles and to forsake those taught to her by her father, yet when she thinks he’s dead and that his plan is about to succeed, she turn around and try to make it work? It is explicitly said, in a way that does sound a bit credible, that it is he grief talking, yet the way she acts seems a tad excessive considering what little we know about the character and her evolution throughout the Dimension Z arc.
Part of the length of those scenes is also due to the fact that they are dragged out by a heavy emphasis on action. While it is the climax and it does heighten the effect of expediency and urgency about the situation the characters are in, the action gets a bit in the way of the character development and the build up of the situation. When Steve fights another captain of Zolandia on a flying vehicle, it does seem exciting, yet the scene is supposed to be about Jet and how she feels now that her father is dead. While an issue filled with quite a lot of dialogue can be diversified with a bit of action from time to time, it seems that the action gets in the way from the actual dialogue here.
If there’s however a scene that really do shine here, it’s the epilogue. The dialogue is poetic, the pacing perfect and the reveal is just powerful, providing for something really exciting for the future of Captain America. As a finale to a 10 issue arc, this packs a punch.
The same cannot be said about the art, who despite all the people helping on the finishing looks a tad rushed at times. The poses are nice and evocative, yet a lot of the expressions are wonky, making the expressivity of the characters rely on the body language most of the time rather than the characters face. Even the monsters, a certain expertise of John Romita Jr., aren’t spectacularly detailed here as they are relegated to the background. The backgrounds themselves, in some key scenes, are really quite bland, as speed lines don’t particularly add up to the level of excitement in most scenes. There are exceptions though, as Steve Rogers is, for the most part, consistent in quality and the final pages are actually beautifully designed, which does add up to the effect of the actual conclusion.
If there’s perhaps an aspect of the art that is still good-looking, it’s the colorization by Dean White, with help from Rachelle Rosenberg this issue. A lot of the colours here are rather one-note, yet there are at least degradation to allow for the illusion of movement in the scenes featuring the vehicles. The strange landscapes are still illustrated with contrasting colors, bringing in grey, red, green and other garish colors to maintain the weirdness. If there’s perhaps a sequence of pages that are really great in terms of colors, it would be the final pages once more, as they are truly striking even with the colorization.
The Conclusion: While there are some interesting developments, some really striking final pages and some scenes that do work, the general pacing and the art by John Romita Jr. and his army of inkers is a poor example of the kind of talent those in the creative team can truly show. Not the best closing issue.
-Hugo Robberts Larivière