Could be a sleeper hit

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews -

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.

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