Captain America: White #1
Storytellers – Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale
Colors – Dave Stewart
Lettering & Design – Comicraft’s Richard Starkings & John Roshell
Review by Joey Braccino
“Who the hell else is there to blame?”
Bottom Line? Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale have created some of the most memorable and influential comic books in the last 20 years. As storytellers, the duo spearheaded definitive iterations of some of DC’s iconic characters in Batman: The Long Halloween, Catwoman: When In Rome, and Superman for All Seasons. Emphasizing a more character-driven, minimalistic narrative mode, Loeb and Sale’s work tended to get to the core of the titular hero and explore just what that hero represents for the larger mythos.
Loeb and Sale later took that same method over to Marvel for the Color series. Starting with Daredevil: Yellow, Loeb and Sale returned to the origins and earlier moments of some of Marvel’s most complex characters. After exploring Daredevil’s complex relationship with his father, Karen Page, and the role of fear and cowardice in his heroic rise (hence yellow… coward… yellow… get it?), Loeb and Sale revisited the iconic Gwen Stacy storyline in Spider-Man: Blue and the Hulk’s early days in Hulk: Gray. These acclaimed series took on a classic, throwback aesthetic both in writing and art reminiscent of those Stan Lee/Jack Kirby/Steve Ditko, with just a bit of sorrow and sincerity mixed in.
In 2008, Loeb and Sale intended to launch Captain America: White. Readers were treated to a #0 issue, a gorgeous teaser that revealed the focus of the new series as Captain America’s complex relationship with Bucky.
In 2015, seven years later, Captain America: White #1 finally hits the stands.
And it’s incredible–each and every panel on each and every page.
The modern era of comics is marked by grit, by cynicism, by high-concept, by high-fantasy, and by apocalyptic events.
Captain America: White #1 is marked by a sense of innocence, of naivete, of youth, and of the ineffable heroism exclusively reserved for World War II stories.
Loeb and Sale open with Cap’s revival in the “modern” era, a throwback to Avengers #4 when the eponymous team thaws him out as it were. A subsequent conversation with Nick Fury reveals that the remorse and the pain and the guilt that Steve feels is not for missing out on his life or the end of the war, but for losing his partner and best friend; this is a book about Bucky and Steve and the intensity and power of their relationship.
The rest of the issue flashes back to an early mission that features the “first” team-up between Cap and Bucky and the Howling Commandos. Loeb and Sale deliver some legitimately humorous and high-octane interactions between the two groups, all the while lacing the issue with tension and complexity between Steve and Bucky. There is a love between the two, but there is also a loaded paternal relationship given the two characters’ respective background. Simply put, they just don’t write books like this anymore.
What can be said about Tim Sale and Dave Stewart’s artwork? It’s a masterclass in minimalism and dynamic, efficient storytelling. Sale’s large panels are loaded with emotional, evocative images rather than excessive detail, contributing to the weight and power of the narrative. Stewart’s moody color palette emphasizes warm colors and rusty browns, evoking the period in a nostalgic, intriguing manner. The most “blue” the book gets is in the opening, “present” scenes, again demonstrating the power and significance of the color symbolism that is the whole conceit of the series. Of all the Color books, Sale and Stewart’s combined aesthetic best fits the history and emotional weight of Captain America and World War II.
BUY. Seven years late, sure, but absolutely stunning regardless. Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s Color books are old school comics storytelling at its finest: sincere, insightful, energetic. There’s something wonderful about seeing a Captain America and Bucky free from the cynicism and grit of the “modern era”; the innocence and fun of youth juxtaposed with the realities of World War II is at the core of the pair’s origin. Captain America: White #1 is a beautiful comic cover-to-cover. Check it.
BONUS: This issue also includes 2008’s Captain America: White #0 and an interview with the creators!