Captain America is a great character when done right. In the hands of a writer that understands the character, Cap is a symbol of honor and courage and leadership. And, him being a walking flag and all, he can be used as a way to start discussions on the political climate of the day. Problem is he is not always done right. And in the hands of a writer that does not understand him Cap’s his traits and symbolism quickly devolve into cliché and jingoism. It is a fine and tricky line to walk, especially if you are dealing with not only a legacy version of the character but an African-American version as well.

Captain America traditionally is of course Steve Rogers, the WWII lab experiment turned hero most of the time but there have been a few people over the years that have taken up the mantle for one reason or another including retirement, disillusionment and death in various sundry forms.

This time around the shield was given to Sam Wilson, AKA the Falcon, when Steve was depowered and began to age rapidly. Now the announcement of a black Captain America caused minor kerfuffle but that was mainly from a small group of stupid people and was summarily dismissed. The majority of people, like myself, welcomed this news if for nothing else because the character of the Falcon is awesome and the move was seen as him getting a”promotion” to the A-list. And diversity doesn’t hurt either.

As I write this there has been a new announcement that Steve Rogers will get his powers back and retake the mantle of Captain America. Anyone who reads comics knew this was going to happen as depowerment and death are temporary things in comics because…comics! We all knew the “real” Captain would eventually come back at some point.

The interesting this is that Marvel has decided to keep Sam Wilson in the role as well so there will be two Captains working concurrently. How that will work exactly remains to be seen but here’s hoping that whatever the outcome the “demotion” of Sam Wilson will be handled with with some care and delicacy. Basically I hope they don’t white-wash this whole thing, if you know what I mean.

But that is in the future and right now (as far as this blog is concerned) we have a first issue with an all new, all different Captain America.

And one that does not shy away from politics and controversy.

Minor Spoilers Ahead (if you care about such things)

Sam has left SHIELD and decided to take a political stand on issues rather than just playing the role of the silent symbol. This has not sit well with a lot of folks and some animosity has been directed his way. Because of this the cliffhanger confrontation seems somewhat inevitable. But is it handled well and still manages to be satisfying despite being expected.

As for the politics in this issue, there is not exactly any ambiguity. As far as what side of the political spectrum writer Nick Spencer falls there really is no doubt. His contempt for anti-immigration is on full display as is his disrespect for most “conservative” issues. He does fall short of a total diatribe on the policies of the right, but its there. In fact so much so his version of the character was dubbed “Captain Socialism” by some and while pissing off Fox & Friends does make me smile some subtlety would have been appreciated.

Nick Spencer: writer
Daniel Acuña: art
Joe Caramagna: letters
Daniel Acuña: cover

Truth be told it is a very wordy issue with lots of voice over narration and an over-dependence on tell-don’t-show. Its not that this is done badly, in fact it is remarkably well executed. It is just that there is no confidence in the reader’s ability to get the message without it being explicitly handed to them. Spencer lays out what he wants to say with no intention of leaving anything open to interpretation.

This could have veered over in to the realm of the tedious, regardless of if you agree or disagree, had it not been for Daniel Acuña’s art. His pacing is impeccable and allows the back and forth of the story to flow and not become confusing.

And his expressions, body language and scene transitions make the overlong narrative fit and flow and seem natural. His art both enhances the message and tones it down a bit, which is an impressive feat. It is really, really clever.

On the whole Captain America: Sam Wilson #1 is a good comic, not great, but quite good. I give it credit for trying something new with it’s message and being a bit daring as far as taking a side and using the symbolism of the Captain to actually say something. I prefer subtlety but the writing and art work well enough together to make it worth your time.

Oh, and Misty Knight is in it. I’m a sucker for Misty Knight.



Advertisements