CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS
Could be a sleeper hit
released OUT NOW! Publisher Marvel
Writer Nick spencer Artist Jesus saiz
If there’s one thing that superhero comics love more than anything else, it’s controversy. The right kind of big, unpredictable shock can get people talking and boost awareness – however, as new Captain America writer Nick Spencer has discovered, it can also result in getting death threats and being accused of betraying the legacy of Cap creators Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.
This is all thanks to the dramatic twist in the first issue of Marvel’s latest ongoing Captain America title. The cliffhanger ending sees superpowered Steve Rogers confronting bad guy Baron Zemo – but then everything goes sideways when Rogers apparently commits murder and then reveals that he’s somehow always been a secret Hydra sleeper agent.
The full (and rather convoluted) explanation arrives in issue two, where it’s revealed that the Red Skull has manipulated a sentient Cosmic Cube called Kobik into rewriting Steve Rogers’s memories so that he just thinks he’s always been a Hydra recruit. It’s a button-pushing twist along the lines of the Superior Spider-Man saga, where Peter Parker was apparently killed and replaced with Otto Octavius, and the new Hydra-loving Cap looks to be sticking around for a serious amount of time to come.
These first three issues pitch Captain America in an interesting direction, with Spencer combining drama and occasionally cheesy action with some darker political territory. This is especially the case with scenes where the Red Skull spouts pro-American, right-wing philosophy not dissimilar to what’s being thrown around in the current US Presidential campaign, and the story is bolstered by the fact that Steve Rogers isn’t an entirely willing Hydra agent, his better nature already establishing itself in subtle ways.
Turning the costumed representative of all that’s good in America into a figure who can’t be trusted is a challenging concept with plenty of potential, although it’s frustrating that such an attention-grabbing narrative hook is tied so heavily into Marvel continuity. Any new readers may find themselves baffled by all the links to the recent Avengers: Stand-Off miniseries, but there’s still plenty of action to enjoy, along with some sturdy, energetic visuals from artist Jesus Saiz. Marvel’s latest shocking twist may not be a slam-dunk in terms of quality, but there’s enough intrigue and promise in the idea of a turncoat Steve Rogers to make this new direction one that’s worth investigating. Saxon Bullock
In 2003/2005 Nick Spencer twice ran for the Cincinnati City Council, as a candidate for minor party the Charter Committee.
It’s only a matter of time before Trump says it.