Captain America #25: An Overly-Critical, Ranty Review

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Well the big day came and went this past week! The newest incarnation of Captain America comics saw its 25th issue released marking the end for this volume of the series. What was that, volume 7? I think. Geez, I hate the constant restarting just for the sake of having #1 issues on the news stands every few years. Do comics even show up on news stands anymore? Now supposedly the theory is that giving people a new “#1” issue allows new readers a “jumping on point”, and Marvel is trying to accommodate the new audience that the Cinematic Universe is bringing in. All, what? 4 people? I’d say 80% of the people I know have seen all the Marvel movies and around, oh, .01% of them even entertained the idea of reading a comic book (my math is science, and science is fact). Any way I look at it this just seems like a stupid marketing ploy that we’ve seen time and time again. But what the hell? Why not do it one more time and start up next month with  ALL-NEW CAPTAIN AMERICA #1! And then in 2016, when the third Cap movie comes out and the comics thrust Steve back into the Stars and Stripes we can just do it again! Huzzah!

So, wait. I really do feel like I was trying to get to a point. Oh yeah, Sam Wilson! This month marked the premier of Sam as the new Cap (oh, uh, Spoiler Alert). Man, do I think this was overdue. I love Sam. The Falcon has been, for years, one of my favorite characters in the Marvel U, and I’m glad to see the powers-that-be finally giving him the respect he deserves. I was excited when it was announced months ago that Cap’s former partner would be taking over as the Star-Spangled Avenger, and like many others, I was eager to see how the transition would be handled.

With that in mind I want to take a moment to state that I am not, nor have I been, a fan of Rick Remender’s version of Captain America. I think his faux-Bendis style is jumbled and poorly paced, and I have not read much of the past 2 years worth of Captain America because of this. I don’t agree with his ideas for Steve, his take on Kirby’s concepts, or the fact that he has rehashed about 60 years of concepts in a single 2-year arc without a single original idea to be seen. And while he is responsible (in part, at least) for putting Sam in the driver’s seat, the means he used to get to this point are poorly conceived, poorly executed, and overly clichéd. So now that you know my feelings on Remender’s writing, feel free to close this page out if you’ve been a fan of his Cap comics, cuz if that got your blood boiling then the rest of this review will make you want to strangle me (I can be found at 123 Fake Street, for those interested).

From the very cover of this issue I could tell it was going to be a gimmicky issue. The big white silhouette with the text “WHO IS THE NEW CAPTAIN AMERICA?” made me moan right from the get-go, though I suppose it worked since I fell victim to the hype and decided to pick up a copy. Opening up the comic I had to stop and read the “Previously…” intro since I was somewhat detached from Steve’s exploits from the past few years. It did a good job of giving a brief overview of what’s been going on so I didn’t feel too lost, while at the same time highlighting some of the more idiotic elements of Remender’s run (remember, kids, this is just my opinion). Why is Steve an old man? He’s lost the Super Soldier Serum before (rehashed plot device…) and it just made him a tiny little dude, so why is he an old man this time? Nothing about that makes sense since he – actually, wait. That’s a rant all of its own. Best I just keep myself on track here.

The comic starts with a bang, literally. Some big explosion planned by Arnim Zola that Sam gets caught in. Poor guy goes plummeting to the ground only to be saved by Iron Man, who catches him mid-fall and delivers him to safety. While some of the Avengers stand around watching, others like Thor and Hulk are wrestling with some monstrous Zola-forged abominations. I assume that no one else in the entire Marvel Universe is available during this debacle because Zola is just casually strolling down the streets of New York with his daughter having an out-of-character father-daughter chat.  Seems like someone somewhere would want to go after Zola for attempting to detonate a bomb in the city, killing millions, but nope. He’s just chilling. Probably gonna hit up a Starbucks. Those things are everywhere. Anyway, back on the Avengers’ side of things we see Steve and Sharon reunited as they, along with Tony, Hulk, Thor, and Ian gather ’round a joking Falcon. Clearly the monsters have stopped attacking. For some reason. Oh, and Zola? Yeah, he’s still enjoying his Caramel Macchiato.

Jet Black comes running over (stupidest freaking name ever, BTW) to hug Sam (they had a thing going, apparently), but when Sharon calls her on her part in causing the near-death experience she has some crazy freak-out moment and, like her name suggests, jets back to her father, who has apparently finished his drink and is now sitting in the doorway of his giant, dimension-hopping fortress watching everything. From the middle of the park. About 100 feet away from the Avengers. Seriously, this insane genius is just free to just chill in the park. WHY IS THAT OKAY?!?! Well it would seem that it is since the A-Crew seems more interested in apprehending Jet than capturing her psychotic, villainous father.

ONE WEEK LATER. An entire splash page devoted to those three words. That’s it. White text on a black page. I paid $5 for this book. Wow.

Steve has called a get together at the Avengers Mansion, and clearly it’s important that this celebration (for letting the super villain escape) isn’t held at the Tower. We later find out that it’s because Steve and Sharon are going to be running things “behind the scenes” from the mansion, but before we get to that we need to sit through three pages of Spider-Man, Hawkeye, and Vision talking about Pizza Rolls, chimichangas, and android flatulence. And nothing happens but that. For three pages. This is a great example of how Remender tries and fails to capture the clever and humorous banter that Brian Michael Bendis or Kevin Smith are so good with. When Steve finally shows up he actually has a fairly clever gag (“General Geriatric!”) which is met by blank stares from his fellow Avengers, who clearly find toilet humor to be a better laugh.

After six pages of nonsense, we finally get to the meat of the story, the reason why we all came- Sam Wilson as Captain America! Unfortunately all he does is stand there, receive the shield from Steve, and shout “Avengers Assemble!”. Three pages, two of which are splash pages. That’s it. I guess it was more important to discuss who ate the snacks than to let the reader know why Sam, our new main character, would give up the mantle he has used for years to pick up the shield. Why he would accept the responsibility of being a symbol of freedom for the entire world. Motivation clearly isn’t needed in Remenderville. Now granted Sam looks freaking BADASS in his Captain America duds, but we waited the entire comic for this and all we get is three measly pages of him modelling for the audience?!?! We don’t even really get a good picture of the new Cap- either the images are close-ups or odd poses. I know we’ll get more next month in the “much-anticipated” ALL-NEW CAPTAIN AMERICA #1, but this big reveal was such a let down. In every possible regard.

But wait, there’s an epilogue. Basically it’s just a set up of what’s on deck for Falcon and his partner, Ian Zola, AKA the new Nomad- it’s HYDRA! I know, right? New! Creative! Clever! Ugh. I wanted to believe that once Remender had finished with characters that he didn’t know how to use his writing would get more interesting. After all, he had stated in an interview that the past two years were just a build-up to get to this point. Sadly this doesn’t seem to be the case.

I don’t entirely know that everything was Rick Remender’s fault, however, since I felt like the artwork was also very weak. The new design for Zola, as well as the designs for both of his children are stupid and nonsensical, and I felt like Steve and Sharon’s ages changed from panel to panel, so some blame has to be thrown towards Carlos Pacheco, Stuart Immonen, Mariano Taibo, and Wade Von Grawbadger (who wins the best name ever award). Wow, that’s a lot of artists, which may explain why I had issues with the look of the book. Plus some part of the blame has to be given to Marvel for releasing this piece of crap. Hell, maybe I should take some blame for not reading the rest of Remender’s amateurish work- would I have enjoyed this issue more if I had read the events leading up to this point?

I don’t, however, blame Dean White, Veronica Gandini, and Marte Gracia one bit. They did a fantastic job of coloring this book, from beginning to end, and added some visual punch to what was otherwise a completely failed endeavor. My only real gripe with the Brubaker/Epting run was the dark tones that made even amazing scenes appear drab, and that certainly wasn’t a problem here. Kudos for that, at least. Oh,  Arnim Zola should also remain blameless since all he was doing was trying to get a hot beverage, and I can totally relate. After finishing that snoozefest of a read I need a coffee to wake myself up.

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