Nick Spencer (W), Jesus Saiz (A)
Cover by: Jesus Saiz
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Happy Independence Day everyone! Since I am the B-List Defender, and it is this day of independence, I can think of no better way to celebrate than reviewing the flagship comic of the Sentinel of Liberty himself, Captain America.
Unfortunately, this comic has come under fire over the controversial ending to the first issue.
Listen guys, it’s called a cliffhanger. I talked about this when I reviewed the first issue, but I’ll say it again: they’re not turning Steve Rogers into a supervillain. Now this first issue has come out and guess what? Steve Rogers isn’t a supervillain. I’ll explain the details of which when I get to the plot of this issue.
As a side note, I checked out Nick Spencer’s Twitter, and, I have to say, I was pretty disgusted by the amount of people harassing this guy over this comic. Harassment is never okay. This guy is just trying to write a comic. Even if the controversy was true and if he turned Steve Rogers into a supervillain, it still would not have been okay. I have a handful of comic book writers and artists that I steer clear from as much as possible, and I still don’t think it’s okay to harass those guys.
To make the matter that much more painful to witness, Nick Spencer is a great writer. The first issue of this comic was solid, and his Ant-Man and Sam Wilson: Captain America titles are two of my favorite books being put out right now. His Superior Foes of Spider-Man title is a modern classic. He’s an interesting writer, and he takes some chances. We shouldn’t be discouraging this. Criticism is okay, it’s what I’m doing here, but driving these kinds of people out of the industry by harassing them on social media is awful and it’s damaging to the art form.
I honestly doubt that anyone in my very small reader base has partaken in this harassment, however all of that still needed to be said.
All this being said, I really, really wanted to like this book. It would have been so gratifying to see this second issue blow all of the criticism and nay-sayers out of the water. However, sometimes reality doesn’t turn out how you want. This issue was…not very good.
The entire issue is told from the perspective of the Red Skull, and it explains what led up to the oh-so notorious moment at the end of the first issue. The long and short of it is, Johann Schmidt took Kobik under his wing and convinced her to turn Steve Rogers (and Erik Selvig) into agents of Hydra.
That’s not a terrible explanation, and it doesn’t paint Kobik as evil (which would be pretty incongruous with her personality in the Thunderbolts title). She’s just naïve and views the Red Skull as a father figure.
However, this comic is riddled with problems. First off, that plot summary is the entirety of this issue. It really feels like it could have been covered in fewer pages, while the rest of the book could have moved the plot forward. However, the issue goes step-by-step through the Pleasant Hill story, explaining exactly what the Red Skull was doing while all of these events were going down.
Second, and this was a problem during the Pleasant Hill story as well, there is a lot of moments with awkward humor that really do not fit the tone of events. It also makes it harder to take the Red Skull seriously as a threat.
There is a prime example of this after a delightfully macabre scene where the Skull forces his kitchen staff to commit suicide. It’s a really dark scene, and it shows the Red Skull being—well, the Red Skull. Schmidt goes onto proclaim that he is bored and goes on a little diatribe about the soup. It’s funny, but it sabotages the tone of the comic. It’s more difficult to take the Red Skull, the man who scared Hitler, seriously as a threat because I now know how he likes his soup.
There’s another scene where he is reading Kobik a bedtime story. This is an interesting idea, i.e. Schmidt actually bonding with Kobik. However, the book sabotages this moment too by having the story be about Hydra taking over the world and “all lived happily ever after.”
Also Zemo is made the butt of many jokes again. Mr. Spencer, what do you have against Baron Helmut Zemo? He’s a great villain, one of Marvel’s best. This is not how you use your Baron Zemo.
Overall, the book is an awkward read that accomplishes what could have been done in five pages over the span of twenty. It’s not particularly interesting, and all the characters involved feel very off.
Jesus Saiz’s art is really good again. He makes Johann Schmidt look really intimidating, and the color is very strong. I like the way this comic looks, even if I didn’t like the story and narrative.
I really, really wish this comic was good.
Final Score: 3/10