A feather in his Cap

Rick re­mender’s lat­est run on cap­tain amer­ica may not be as epic as his last, but it is just as cap­ti­vat­ing.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - READS - By KALEON RA­HAN star2@thes­tar.com.my Cap­tain Amer­ica (on­go­ing) rick re­mender John romita Jr, car­los Pacheco and Klaus Jan­son mar­vel

HE may be the face of the avengers (and the In­vaders) and the nat­u­ral leader in any mar­vel mega-event, but the stark truth is that Steve Rogers a.k.a. Cap­tain amer­ica is a man out of time. Be it the orig­i­nal Lee-Kirby ver­sion or the Hollywood one, Rogers’ time dis­place­ment from his orig­i­nal World War II sur­round­ings to to­day’s hip, dig­i­tal en­vi­ron­ment makes him stand out in a crowd.

In Jan­uary, the sit­u­a­tion was made even more glar­ing when Rick Re­mender ( Pu­n­isher, Un­canny X-Force, Fear Agent) changed Cap’s sta­tus quo via the mar­vel NOW re­launch.

Re­mender linked the past and pre­sent by in­ject­ing some depth into Rogers’ preCap­days, and throw­ing him into a to­tally alien en­vi­ron­ment – Di­men­sion Z. as if tak­ing away the “amer­ica” in “Cap­tain amer­ica” wasn’t dras­tic enough, Re­mender also alien­ated Cap from his usual sup­port sys­tem (S.H.I.E.L.D., Sharon Carter, Fal­con, Bucky, etc) and gave him a new side­kick in the form of his arch­neme­sis arnim Zola’s ge­net­i­cally-en­gi­neered son Ian.

Read­ers were treated to a fu­tur­is­tic Lone Wolf & Cub- style jour­ney as Cap braved the worst that Di­men­sion Z has to of­fer while dis­cov­er­ing the joy of fa­ther­hood! This was def­i­nitely NOT some­thing fa­mil­iar to Cap, but it was a rev­o­lu­tion­ary de­par­ture that con­cluded with the usual hard-luck end­ing.

In case you missed out on this ground­break­ing stint, here’s a re­cap. Steve and Sharon were about to take their re­la­tion­ship to the next (i.e. mat­ri­mo­nial) level, but be­fore they did, he was ab­ducted by Zola’s min­ions and taken to Di­men­sion Z – a desert-like land in­hab­ited by sav­age mu­tates known as the Phrox. With Cap in ... cap­tiv­ity, Zola at­tempted to un­lock the se­cret of the Su­per Sol­dier serum DNa for his own ge­netic en­gi­neer­ing ex­per­i­ments. as usual, there’s a grander scheme in place and for schemers like Zola, and here, it’s the cus­tom­ary plan of con­quer­ing the world.

In case you feel that the plot is pre­dictable and the usual “hero saves the day” out­come is in­evitable, Re­mender throws in a few un­ex­pected twists, namely the Steve-Ian bond­ing, Jet Black (Zola’s ge­net­i­cally en­gi­neered daugh­ter), the time dif­fer­ence be­tween Di­men­sion Z and Earth, and an in­ter­ven­tion by Sharon.

Just like how Bat­man/Bruce Wayne strug­gled to be a father to Damian, Cap ex­pe­ri­ences sim­i­lar chal­lenges, al­beit in an alien en­vi­ron­ment and for a longer time pe­riod (30 min­utes of Earth time = 12 years in Di­men­sion Z). For more than a decade, Cap raises Ian ac­cord­ing to his val­ues and even im­parts his fight­ing and sur­vival skills to the boy.

While Ian grows up to be the spit­ting im­age of Steve, his “sis­ter” Jet is the com­plete op­po­site, as Zola has in­fused her with a pow­er­ful ha­tred for hu­man civil­i­sa­tion.

any­way, all hell breaks loose when Zola suc­ceeds in re­claim­ing Ian and kick-starts his in­va­sion of Earth, prompt­ing Cap to launch a di­rect as­sault on his neme­sis. Things get even more com­pli­cated when Cap suc­ceeds in turn­ing Jet to his side and fights a brain­washed Ian, who would have killed him if not for Sharon.

When the fight­ing’s done, Ian and Sharon fail to sur­vive – their deaths mar­ring what would have been a suc­cess­ful turn­around for Cap (con­sid­er­ing how uncer­tain these events are in comics these days).

Time Cap-sule

Time flies in Di­men­sion Z. Even for some­one with an in­domitable spirit like Steve, the years away from Earth do take their toll. From the peace­ful mo­ments he shares with Ian, it is ev­i­dent that Steve has be­come con­tented and re­signed to his fate.

But the emo­tional trauma he en­dures leaves him even more shat­tered than when he was re­vived af­ter his post-WWII sus­pended an­i­ma­tion. This set­back is a dou­ble whammy, leav­ing him griev­ing over the dual loss. Cap­tain Amer­ica #11 and #12 are es­pe­cially heart-rend­ing is­sues as Steve mis­er­ably tries to ad­just to life with­out Ian (mostly) and Sharon.

The emo­tional sup­port of­fered by the “cold hearts” at S.H.I.E.L.D and the Fal­con is eclipsed by the newly-ac­quired chal­lenge of ac­clima- tis­ing an­other kin­dred soul – Jet, who is also some­what dis­placed in time her­self.

Re­call­ing the last five decades of Cap tales, my bench­marks for epic ones are the mark Waid-Ron Gar­ney and Ed Brubaker-Steve Ept­ing st­ints. While Re­mender’s rev­o­lu­tion­ary story arc has been fas­ci­nat­ing to fol­low, it still doesn’t make the grade.

No doubt, the af­ter­math will be felt for a while (or at least till next sum­mer’s movie se­quel), but the in­evitable res­ur­rec­tion of Ian (which is al­ready in mo­tion) and Sharon (she did fake/cheat death more than once be­fore) should eclipse the trail of de­struc­tion left by this other-di­men­sional ad­ven­ture.

Spe­cial men­tion to Re­mender try­ing to build on Steve Rogers’ pre-Cap years by giv­ing promi­nence to his mother’s in­flu­ence on his ideals and be­liefs. While past ori­gin tales have been con­fined to Steve’s army en­list­ment frus­tra­tions, the de­ci­sion to delve fur­ther into his back­ground pro­vides an in­ter­est­ing per­spec­tive of the chal­lenges Steve faced as a child, and how he ap­plies this ex­pe­ri­ence in rais­ing Ian.

as for Steve and Sharon’s luck­less re­la­tion­ship, it would be great if they even­tu­ally find that trendy avengers re­la­tion­ship

cap demon­strat­ing why chest-thump­ing is a bad idea for Zola.

arnim

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