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Captain America: Steve Rogers #1

Writer: Nick Spencer

Artist: Jesus Saiz

Lettering: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Review by Joey Braccino

In the right moment, it only takes one person to change the world forever…”

Only 2 of these characters will appear in this book...

Only 2 of these characters will appear in this book…

Alright. Let’s get this whole CRAZY TWIST out of the way. If you want to get my overall impressions of the book, the story, the art, etc., skip ahead a little bit and I’ll get into it, but since Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 found its way into the mainstream news media today and spoilt the whole surprise of the final panel, I suppose I have to talk about it here. Needless, to say, ::SPOILERS:: for the next paragraph, so if you want to stay unspoiled, skip down past the Jack Flag & Free Spirit panel from the ’90s.

::Spoilers are coming…

::Spoilers are coming…

::Spoilers are coming…

::They’re coming!!!!

::Spoilers START here::

So the big shocking newsworthy moment comes in the final panel where, yes, Steve takes off his helmet and says “Hail Hydra!” – suggesting that he is and has always been (given the framing flashbacks of the issue) an agent of Hydra!!! CRAZY!!! At the end of the day, it’s a cheap pop for the end of a first issue of a new series that will most likely turn into a whacky and crazy story as the book goes on month-after-month. I don’t know what it means. You don’t know what it means. No one but Marvel knows what it means. Could it mean that Steve Rogers has always been a Nazi/Hydra double-agent? Yes, it could, and yes, that would be kind of icky given the character’s history and core themes. Could it all be a ruse of some kind? Yes, it could, and that story could ultimately suck, too. But at the end of the day, this is comics, and fantastical stuff like this happens ALL. THE. TIME. So if you dig it, keep reading and see what happens. If you don’t, jump off and read something else. I guarantee that Steve won’t be Hydra forever, regardless of what Spencer’s story is.

Jack Flag & Free Spirit circa the '90s

Jack Flag & Free Spirit circa the ’90s

::Spoilers STOP here::

Back? Okay. Back.

As a fan of Nick Spencer’s work generally and more specifically on the recent Captain America: Sam Wilson series, I was both excited and trepidatious to see Captain America: Steve Rogers herald the return of the original shield-wielding, patriotic hero. Sam’s ascent to the Captain America mantle was awesome, so to have another Cap (even if it is Steve himself) running around is a little weird. Still, I’m glad I gave it a shot because Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 is a jam-packed first issue filled with fighting fisticuffs, political prescience, and one honker of a twist (see above if you want to get SPOILT).

The framing flashbacks for this first issue take us back to 1926 and start us off with Joseph and Sarah Rogers walking a young Steven back home. Joseph, an abusive drunk (as per the unfortunate canon established by Rick Remender in his… lackluster run on the character), assaults Sarah in the street while Steve watches. A mysterious woman steps in and ultimately invites Sarah and Steve out to dinner to discuss a mysterious new group that may just help them.

Meanwhile, in the present, Steve, newly rejuvenated and in the costume with a new shield, tries to stop a Hydra attack on a speeding train (throwback to Brubaker’s first issue on Captain America!) while taking directions from Commander Sharon Carter (“the love of his life” awwww) and Rick Jones. A surprising team-up with some old superhero buddies from the ‘90s books and some intensely relevant political speechifying later, and you’ve got one heck of an entertaining, engaging first issue. Spencer bounces seamlessly between the action-packed train sequences and interludes that reveal the new nature of a terrifying Hydra (a group led by the Red Skull motivated by the desire to “take this country back” from the politically-correct and immigrants…) before moving on to quieter character beats with Sharon and Steve and the rest of the supporting cast. There are a lot of balls up in the air by the end of this issue, and that’s not even taking into account the huge reveal in the final panels.

That’s not to say Captain America: Steve Rogers is without humor. There are some classic Spencer subversions of tropes, especially in terms of the villains, that are actually very funny, but you can tell that Captain America: Steve Rogers is going to be the more serious of the two Cap books bearing Spencer’s name (at least so far).

A real draw for the book, however, is Jesus Saiz’ artwork. A cross between Daniel Acuña’s pulpy noir, Phil Noto’s soft realism, and Jerome Opeña’s bulky naturalism, Jesus Saiz brings a dynamism and weight to Captain America: Steve Rogers that captures Spencer’s weighty narrative perfectly. Saiz manages to capture quiet despair and vibrant action with the same efficacy, sometimes on the same page. Really dazzling work here that makes for a truly engaging visual experience.

Verdict

BUY. Give it a shot. Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 is a dynamic, jam-packed start to this new volume, and with Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz at the helm, you know you’re in for something crazy down the line. Filled with politics, action, and a heck of a lot of character, Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 is a promising start. Let’s see what happens.

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