I write comic book reviews that NOBODY has ever asked for!
Captain America is one of my favorite (super hero) characters of all time.
BUT. . .
I'm gonna say something here that MIGHT just be a little bit disagreeable to a lot of comic book readers out there. I REALLY like Sam Wilson as Captain America, and I hope he STAYS Captain America.
Captain America: Sam Wilson is probably my favorite current Marvel book out right now (super hero book, that is. I like their Star Wars titles a lot too). It has great art and touches on a lot of uncomfortable subjects. It's more than just punching giant robots and monsters. It ain't perfect, but I think Sam Wilson has a good enough legacy as Cap's partner and friend to be able to pull off being Captain America while still telling the story of how he KNOWS there's no way he can live up to the original in a very meta way reflecting the opinions of many Captain America fans.
BUT. . .
THAT'S "Captain America: Sam Wilson". THIS is the initial offering of Sam Wilson as Captain America, "All New Captain America". . .an extremely short (just 6 issues) run just before Marvel's universe reboot with Secret Wars.
Is it as good as what came later? Is it any good at all? Let's find out!
ALL NEW CAPTAIN AMERICA (Marvel)
The New Captain America teams up with Nomad to take down a hidden Hydra Base holding a devastating secret weapon.
This first issue starts off VERY nicely with an outstanding cover. Say what you will about Sam Wilson Captain America, but that IS one sweet cover!
Inside, Immonen's art continues to impress, and is really the best part of the issue. The double page opening spread of Cap flying down into the Hydra base that is the main plot focus of the issue is particularly outstanding. And anyone that can make BATROC look like a badass is doing a fine job in my book.
Unfortunately, the story isn't quite as impressive as the art. It's not BAD, but it really suffers from exposition overload. . .it comes on the heels of the God-Awful "Captain America in Dimension Z" storyline. . .and it tries to team FalconCap up with Ian Rogers/Leopold Zola/ Nomad. To be kind, let's just say it feels extremely forced.
Overall, this was a decent issue with fantastic art, but bogged down with exposition and a forced teamup.
Cap and Nomad are separated while battling a "Who's Who" of Captain America villains after being teleported to a nation run by criminals. Cap is betrayed by the boy they were trying to save, Misty Knight (working undercover for S.H.I.E.L.D.) comes to his rescue and lets him know about a vast Hydra conspiracy (what other kind IS there?) and Nomad is seemingly killed by Baron Zemo.
So. . .
There's a lot going on in this issue, and to tell the truth, two issues in and the plot is starting to turn into a mess. This short-lived series is headed for the cliff almost right out of the gate.
That's not to say it's bad. . .it's decent, mindless, punch-tastic superhero nonsense. Definitely heavy on the action, and with stunning artwork by Immonen carrying the load with ease.
Cap is taken prisoner by Sin (Red Skull's daughter) and is mentally tortured by revealing that Sam Wilson is a fake persona put on mob thug and drug runner "Snap" Wilson by the Red Skull in order to use him as a spy against the original Captain America. Sam shows Sin his disagreement via punches and angsty shouting.
Oh, SNAP (Wilson)!
This issue makes absolutely no sense as part of the ongoing story. He gets on a teleporting elevator with Misty Knight and gets off alone in WWII where Red Skull's skanky daughter mentally torments him. There's absolutely no explanation of what's going on or how she manages to travel back in time.
Of course as a retcon of Sam WIlson's retconned origin, it makes SOME sense. Marvel needed to do this at some point and they just shrugged and said "No time like the present. Just throw it in there."
Overall, except for the outstanding artwork, this issue sticks out like a sore thumb in a REALLY bad way. The retcon of the retcon is clumsy and poorly done.
It's a race against time to foil Hydra's plan to sterilize the world's population. Captain America and Misty Knight split up to take down Hydra cells in India and Madripoor, then split again to take down the last cells in Moscow and Florida. Unfortunately, Cap finds himself outmatched by Baron Zemo and is unable to stop millions of fleas with infected blood from being released on America. . .
Yeah. Millions of infected fleas.
Last issue's retcon of Sam Wilson's "Snap" Wilson gangsta background via the daughter of the Red Skull's unexplained powers to travel back in time was confusing and out of place. This issue's "Flea Apocalypse" is just plain stupid.
At this point, Immonen's outstanding art and some nice flashback moments at the beginning of each issue are this run's only saving grace.
Captain America is rejoined by Nomad, taking down Baron Zemo and saving America by summoning a huge flock of birds to eat all the infected fleas. . .but they discover Hydra's failsafe plan, the vampire Baron Blood filled with infected blood and ready to blow himself up in Paris. . .
After getting his throat cut by Zemo, Nomad comes back into the fight with what HAS to be the lamest "Not really dead" Deus Ex Machina I've seen in a while. . .some sort of wonder healing gel from Dimension Z built into his armor.
I thought the brutal death of Nomad was one of the best things about this series. I pegged it as a good move that added a bit of emotional impact. It turned out to be just another Marvel fakeout.
Captain America defeats Baron Blood in a battle on the edge of outer space while Nomad is seemingly killed AGAIN during a battle with Baron Zemo. At the end of the day, Misty Knight comes to the rescue and Hydra's plans are foiled. . .for now. In an epilogue aboard a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier during Captain America's debriefing by Nick Fury jr., it's revealed that, SURPRISE! Misty Knight wasn't working for S.H.I.E.L.D. after all. . .
Thank God it's over.
From Captain America being able to fly up to low earth orbit sans spacesuit to battle with a vampire to Nomad's second "death" in the space of 6 issues, to Redwing (Sam's best bird bud, who was "killed" last issue. . .Marvel can't even let a friggin' BIRD die for good!) being turned into a bird-vampire. . .this final issue was a hot mess of WTF.
Reading this short run, I can fully understand why a lot of people were sour on the idea of Sam Wilson as Captain America. It is little more than a 6 issue punch-fest with a hot mess of a plot made worse by the idea of having Steve Roger's Dimension Z adoptee son as a sidekick character.
The post-Secret Wars Captain America: Sam Wilson is superior in many ways. . .but after reading this initial mess Marvel offered up, how many people didn't even give it a chance? A damn shame.
On close inspection, one can pretty much see that this whole series was basically filler with the express purpose to do SOMETHING with Nomad and to retcon the new Captain America's "Snap" Wilson background out of existence.
All things considered, I wouldn't suggest this. . .series? Can 6 issues even be CALLED a series? I wouldn't suggest this series to anyone but the most die-hard Sam Wilson Captain America or Falcon fans.
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