by Rick Remender (Writer), Carlos Pacheco, Mariano Taibo (Artists), Dean White (Colorist)

The Story: Captain America and the Falcon finish the fight against Nuke as complications sets in.

The Review: This may come off as perhaps cheap or biased, but this present arc of Captain America hasn’t exactly told the most exciting adventure starring the sentinel of liberty. While the huge story featuring Dimension Z and all that crazy sci-fi was pretty fun, it did leave some kind of expectation that this arc wasn’t exactly able to fulfill. It makes sense as far as character development and story progression goes, but this whole arc lacked something. This may be something logical and it could potentially lead to something great, but a depressive Steve Rogers that is pushed to action did not make for something that made readers anticipate what would happen next.

In small ways, though, this issue did put forth a lot of elements that pumped up the excitement as well as the story forward. Thanks to several scenes featuring some strengths of Remender, this book may very well be on the verge of rising up, just like its titular character could end up doing in his adventures.

One of the key component of this renewed energy would be the high amount of action, as the fight between Captain America, Falcon and Nuke push things forward as we get to see a reinvigorated Steve Rogers. Pushing forth once more that Cap may very well be more at ease when dealing with immediate problems, Remender use the action to push the story forward without slowing neither down. Thanks to some small exchanges and a good deal of fisticuffs, the story gets a bit more centered on its main character without diminishing the effects of Nuke and those who were manipulating him. It’s brutal at times, but it is efficient nonetheless.

Something else that makes this a bit worthwhile is something that is both a throwback to the Brubaker era and something else as well, with a certain political angle seen here. The notions of freedom of press, how America is sometimes perceived internationally, how several veterans were seen in different eras as well as how S.H.I.E.L.D. might be a part of several problems. There’s a certain vision of how things might get troublesome over a large variety of events characters will have no control over that is tantalizing, to say the least.

Where the story gets a bit weaker is in several smaller tidbits, which adds to something bigger. For one, the Iron Nail is still not different or defined enough that he comes as a credible threat. There is some potential to him, of course, but his small apparition near the end does not work as well as it should, which only serve as making him an obstacle rather than a full character in his own right.

In contrast, Nuke is perhaps set off more as too overbearing, with his behaviour getting very repetitive after a while. It may possibly due to his temperament and plot-driven reasons that he acts more like a brainwashed junkie with the same line of dialogue being said over and over*, but it gets perhaps a bit stale after a while. He works as a storytelling device and as an antagonist, yet there is a severe lack of development of even explanations given to him that he ends up being more like Iron Nail, an obstacle rather than a character.

Despite these two rather disappointing aspects of the comic, there is a place where the quality was on the rise as well to balance things out, with Carlos Pacheco being a bit more solid in this month’s issue. Accompanied by Mariano Taibo and his inking prowess, the art of Pacheco is a bit more lively thanks to the near-constant action and the smaller scale when it comes to scenery and backgrounds. The snow, rubbles, trees and other elements of nature never invades on the action through needless elements, with these details putting a bit more emphasis on the situation as well as the characters. Speaking of characters, their motions are really well-done in this issue, with Pacheco giving them a lot of energy without going into hyperbole, pushing for an economy of body language that serves the scenes well. It’s not present in the entire issue, though, with some moments where some actions become a bit cartoonish and unbelievable, like Nuke taking his sweet time before stabbing someone in one page. Still, it’s very potent stuff from Pacheco.

The work of Dean White is also very good here, with a good lot of shading in order to work with several elements of the background, like the fire burning behind the characters. With a balance between the shiny elements like Captain America’s shield and the dirty aspects of the background and the violence of the issue, White is able to show the contrast in terms of themes as well as one the panels. The colorful characters are instantly more recognizable and more easily focused-on when put before a snowy background, or against trees and other simple elements. It’s a mix between simple and complex techniques that makes this issue stand out in terms of colors.

The Conclusion
: Some elements still come as a bit under-developed and trite, but the action, inclusion of several plot points as well as the work of Carlos Pacheco, Dean White and Mariano Taibo manage to makes this read very much worthwhile. An improvement overall.

Grade: B

Hugo Robberts Larivière

*Perhaps it’s also due to the fact that he has been created by Frank Miller. It would explain his speaking behaviour, at the very least.