It’s been a big week for comics news with both the DC Rebirth #1 and the new Captain America #1 launching on the same day. Of course, this is the issue that is famous for the final pages that have been spread all over the internet with Cap seemingly declaring his allegiance to Hydra.
The issue starts with a flashback to a young Rogers family in 1926. Joseph Rogers is drunk and abusive with his wife Sarah while young Steve watches, a mysterious woman comes along and helps them. We later learn that she is trying to recruit them to join Hydra, which she describes as a community organization.
The role of Hydra is a major part of the story. Red Skull gives a speech that I fully expect to hear at the next Donald Trump rally, all Skull is missing is a horrible combover. He recruits lost men and women into the organization and is having them beat up minorities, vandalize property and ultimately, become suicide bombers.
A lot of the story seems to be readjusting to life after the Pleasant Hill event. Basically, heroes and villains were trapped in a small town that used to be a SHIELD prison and it was all controlled by a young girl who was basically the Cosmic Cube come to life. Cap is trying to readjust to his life after losing and then regaining his powers. He talks to Sharon Carter about how he feels out of balance and a stranger in his own body.
The story progresses following a troubled young man who gets recruited and then blows himself up at Red Skull’s request meanwhile, Baron Zemo seems to have a different idea for where to go with Hydra. Both Hydra and SHIELD are going through major shake ups, it’s much like what is going on in the Agents of SHIELD show, but I think it was much better executed there than it is in this issue.
Everything culminates in a fight between Zemo and Cap as Jack Flag comes in to save Cap. They defeat Zemo and then Cap throws Flag out of a plane and makes the big declaration we’ve seen all over the internet. Just for clarification, the man tied up is Selvig who was a prisoner of Zemo’s and was not tied up by Cap.
This is a first issue and it’s meant to pull people into the story, and aside from the final page reveal, it really didn’t pull me in at all. The story bounces all over the place and it’s very hard to follow everything through. The flashback to young Steve and his mother in 1926 is far more interesting than anything going on in the present. All of the characters just feel off. Of course, I’m not the world’s biggest Captain America fan. I like him as part of the Avengers and I’ve enjoyed him in the movies but he’s pretty far down the list of my favorite characters. Some of the problems may be simply that I don’t know these characters well enough to really judge them.
Nick Spencer does get some fun writing in as the characters all reminisce about Cap’s questionable past as a comic book hero with poor costume choices, and that time he was a werewolf. We also get a very nice scene between Sharon and Steve after the first mission. But, there was not much here that I enjoyed.
The artwork in the book is another major hurdle for me as well. It’s a very painted-realistic look, but it just looks weird to me. Especially with Sharon Carter, she’s meant to be older but it comes across as a painted version of bad old-age makeup. It’s not bad artwork, but it’s a style that just did not work for me. Maybe with a different colorist over Jesus Saiz’s pencils it could be improved.
All in all the Hydra reveal is not that big of a deal to me. I’m sure that it will be revealed as part of Cap’s plan to be a double agent or as part of some brainwash type plan. There are a thousand different ways that they can write themselves out of this and still keep the core of the character intact. The controversy surrounding this issue is mostly from people who haven’t bothered to read the issue. You have to view it as the first part of an ongoing story arc. Very few comics are completely contained into a single issue. Complaining about a character’s action here is much like complaining about how a character reacts in the first 20 minutes of a movie. There is still much more story to come that will explain more of what is going on here. I won’t bother to stick around to read it because there was just too much in this issue I did not enjoy, but I’m sure that at the end of the storyarc Cap’s intergrity will be maintained.