Steve Rogers: Captain America #1 Review

Posted May 25, 2016 by Jean-Luc Botbyl in Comic Books

Written by: Nick Spencer

Art by: Jesus Saiz

Publisher: Marvel

First and foremost, the New York Times spoiled the twist in this issue for me. Literally, they just Tweeted out the last panel of the issue. That really isn’t cool, especially considering the nature of the twist. It’s never fun having something of that magnitude spoiled unwillingly.

I’m not going to spoil it here, but I will say that it seems like sheer lunacy to me. It comes completely out of left field, and I just sat there, staring at the panel and proverbially scratching my head. Now, I haven’t been reading a ton of Marvel books lately, so perhaps there are circumstances that I’m unaware of. Regardless of whether or not that’s the case, the last panel seems to exist only to grab headlines. There’s no way this sticks, and if it does, it represents the utter obliteration of Cap’s entire system of values, and single handedly undermines decades of great comics.

That aside, I actually rather liked this issue, which I did not expect, considering the preview in the FCBD issue. It’s clear to me now that that wasn’t a final script, and a lot of polish has gone into that sequence since. The dialogue between Steve and Sharon is actually really good, I found the follow up scene between the two to be surprisingly impactful. Relative to the rest of the issue (the ending not withstanding) these scenes are actually fairly weak, all things considered.

For instance, I really like the re-imagining of Hydra. I don’t need everything in comics to be gritty and realistic, but I do appreciate it when authors adapt previously existing elements of the mythology to contemporary issues. It serves to expand the relevance of the medium as a whole, and I think updating Hydra to a xenophobic western terrorist group is an interesting decision. The execution certainly isn’t perfect (Red Skull’s monologue goes on for way too long), but this is the kind of change I can get behind.

The flashbacks in this issue were also quite good. By the end, I don’t think they made much sense, and they also play into the final twist. But everything leading up to that is actually pretty good. As far as I know, we don’t actually know that much about Steve’s childhood prior to him becoming Captain America. And sure, it isn’t entirely necessary that we know every aspect of a character’s back story. But hey, if Spencer’s going to tackle it in a quality manner, I’m certainly not going to complain.

As for the art, well, I’ve never really been a huge fan of Saiz’ style. That trend certainly continues here, however, I have to commend him for some of the ways he establishes continuity between panels. There’s always a logical progression when the book transitions between time periods, which it does on a fairly regular basis. Even taking that into account, the art doesn’t do all that much for me. It could be that the colors are a little bit too rich for my taste, but everything just seems kind of out of focus.

If you’ve actually bothered to read the review (if so thanks, I love you), then the score I’ve given this book might actually surprise you. The thing is, I liked a lot of what this book had to offer. Spencer really does a good job with the it, for the most part. The ending just left a terrible taste in my mouth, and it’s something that I just can’t seem to get over. It just doesn’t sit well with me at all. Who knows, maybe it will all be addressed and explained away as some dumb swerve, and it will probably all be undone in a few months regardless. Still, in this moment, I really wish it wasn’t a part of this issue.

About the Author

Jean-Luc Botbyl

Jean-Luc is a grizzled veteran of We the Nerdy. Most days, he just wonders why he hasn't been formally fired. Follow him on Twitter at @J_LFett to make him feel validated.