Captain America is one of the most iconic characters not only in Marvel comics but also in all of pop culture. While Steve Rogers is best known to don the suit, many others have taken up the mantle over the years. Even with their different motivations, the idea of protecting America and its people lies at the core of Captain America’s identity. So what happens when someone takes the shield and works to tarnish the legacy of Captain America? The United States of Captain America #1 looks to answer that question.
Picking up on some of the themes in Ta-Nehisi Coates’s run on Captain America, this Steve Rogers is questioning the legacy and place of Captain America. Writer Christopher Cantwell finds that line where he can point out some of the “mistakes” that have been made over the years without coming off as preachy. At no point does Cantwell denigrate the mantle or its existence but instead is asking if the character could have done better. The dialogue serves as a reminder of not only how the character has changed, but also how the real world has changed. It is an important discussion to have as Marvel is dealing with some of its characters being co-opted by groups that are the opposite of what the characters stand for.
Other than Steve Rogers, Sam Wilson has been most closely linked to the Captain America mantle in recent years. Even before becoming Captain America, Sam was one of Steve’s closest allies. So it makes sense that the first call that he makes is to Sam after he encounters an enemy who surprises even him. While the familiarity between the two works, some of the quips from Sam just feel out of place. We are being lead to believe that this villain who has just stolen the Shield is a major force to be dealt with. With the seriousness of the situation, it would seem that Sam should have a much more stoic approach.
Much has been made about the introduction of Aaron Fischer into the Captain America mythos before The United States Of Captain America #1 was released. I was one of those who was skeptical about the character and how he would be handled. However, his introduction fits perfectly into Cantwell’s theme. Fischer represents a group that may have been overlooked in the past, and he has taken it upon himself to provide protection and hope. Again, Cantwell’s handling of this does not seek to blame Captain America. Instead, we once again are reminded that the mantle of Captain America means different things to different people.
Greg Eaglesham’s art works perfectly with the story that is being told. Rogers is drawn bigger than life throughout the comic. He has super serum running through his body, so of course he should have more muscles than anyone else. It is a point that is often lost by many artists who draw Steve Rogers. Eaglesham’s action panels are also easy to follow. You get the sense of action without losing the plot in a plume of smoke and rubble. And the use of shadows enhances the mystery. Matt Milla’s colors pop off the page and contribute to the bold action panels, while not distracting from more subdued moments.
In today’s world, Captain America can be a complicated character. The United States of Captain America #1 takes that and weaves a story of a man who is pure in his goals but knows he can do better. At no point does Cantwell diminish the importance of the character. Instead, he builds up the mythos while embracing the flaws. More importantly, Cantwell lays the groundwork for a story that is intriguing and groundbreaking while moving the characters in it forward.
The United States of Captain America #1
Embracing Complicated Present and Past10.0/10
- Writers: Christopher Cantwell, Josh Trujillo
- Artists: Josh Eaglesham, Jan Bazaldua
- Colorist: Matt Milla
- Letterer: Joe Caramagna
- Cover Artist: Alex Ross
- Publisher: Marvel Comics