Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #1
Writer – Al Ewing
Artist – Luke Ross
Color Artist – Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer – VC’s Cory Petit
Review by Joey Braccino
Sam Wilson is getting all the fanfare this week as he stars in two brand-new comic books: All-New Captain America #1 and Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #1. The new Cap is receiving some excellent press for his “debut” over in Rick Remender’s new series, but it’s Al Ewing’s work on this all-new Mighty Avengers volume that continues FalCap’s escapades into the larger Marvel Universe. Of course, FalCap is already getting bandied about in Remender’s Marvel crossover series, AXIS, so a lot of the action here is rooted in what’s going on in that event. In many ways, Captain America and the Mighty Avengers is a continuation of the Ewing’s underappreciated first volume; in other ways, CA&MA is a standard tie-in issue linked inextricably to another, larger mini-series.
I was a huge fan of Ewing’s first volume of Mighty Avengers. The diversity of the roster was just initial attraction; what kept me on the book was its commitment to on-point characterization, authenticity, and pulpy humor as the roster took on were-monsters and chaos demons. Sure, some were critical of Greg Land’s artwork, but the initial dozen or so issues of Ewing’s Avengers tenure were marked by their critical success. With that “season” done, Ewing is returning readers to the world of the Mighty Avengers, the community-action team dedicated to helping the people of New York locally and immediately (they have a hotline!), in CA&MA #1. There are a few elements that connect this new series to the old—primarily the sinister-sounding Cortex Incorporated and CEO Jason Quantrell, both of which appeared back in Mighty Avengers #5(ish)—but for the most part Ewing keeps the focus on the new Captain America. In some ways, that makes CA&MA a bit more accessible to new readers, but unfortunately it also takes much of the attention from the roster and drama that we’ve come to love over the last dozen issues.
Monica Rambeau, Blade, Adam Brashear, She-Hulk, etc. do not appear in the issue until the very last panel, and even then, they don’t speak or engage in anything. Power Man and White Tiger appear in passing, as team manager (?) Dave Griffith gives a tour to new recruit, Soraya Khorasani. Again, no lines, but at least they show up. Luke Cage and Sam Wilson get all the focus here, which could make for some fascinating character action, but due to the consequences of the AXIS event comic, both Cage and Wilson are acting inherently out of character—more violent, more aggressive, less heroic. As a result, the reader’s access to the book is limited by the falseness of the featured characters. It is in this sense that CA&MA really fails—in establishing itself as a unique, interesting, engaging title from the outset. With the tie-in quality of the narrative and the inherent difficulty in constructing pathos when your protagonists are intentionally out-of-character, it’s truly a feat that Ewing is able to make the book work. Ewing relies on his distinct sense of humor and character-driven conflict to build something worthwhile out of this glorified tie-in. Highlights include a spectacularly hammy Plunderer monologue, an aggressive Cage/Spidey confrontation, and the initial Captain America scenes.
Luke Ross’ intense realism is akin to Greg Land’s photo-realism, but without the obvious photo referencing and swiping. The aesthetics are similar—naturalism, engaging staging, etc.—but Luke Ross’ work is much more polished and much more pulpy than Land’s squeaky clean illustrations. I’m also a big fan of Rachelle Rosenberg’s color palette, and it is used to great effect here as well.
For readers of Ewing’s Mighty Avengers, Captain America and the Mighty Avengers is a worthy continuation of that original series. Once the tie-in to AXIS is done, then I imagine CA&MA will be able to find its voice immediately. For new readers, while I think CA&MA is a worthwhile buy, I do feel that All-New Captain America #1 (also out today) will do a better job of engaging readers and overcoming the limitations of AXIS. I’m a sucker for a good Luke Cage story, though, so I’m in all the way. Check it!