REVIEW: Captain America #9

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Or – “Former Captain America Steve Rogers Is Captain America Again, But No Longer Dead.”

It’s been a while since I checked in with the star-spangled sentinel of liberty known as Captain America, primarily due to my unhappiness with the first arc of his relaunch.  First and foremost, this volume of Captain America is the fourth relaunch in a little more than a dozen years, coming right on the heels of a renumbering of the previous volume!  To make things worse, the first several issues were drawn by Steve McNiven, whose work I find static and over-rendered, the artistic equivalent of a Simpson/Bruckheimer movie.  Now that Alan “Smooth As Greek Yogurt” Davis has the penciling reigns, will things look up for the First Avenger?

Offhand, I’d have to say that all those Machinesmith heads aren’t a good omen…

CAPTAIN AMERICA #9
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Penciler: Alan Davis
Inker: Mark Farmer
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: John Denning
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, in Captain America:  A series of recurring nightmares have plagued Steve Rogers in recent months, terrible dreams during which his body returns to its pre-Super-Soldier-Serum state as a digitally-altered Human Torch scrawny pipsqueak with asthma.  The dreams proved to be prophetic, as Captain America and the Falcon tried to quell a riot caused by a Madbomb, during which he reverted to his previous Casper Milquetoast proportions.  Now, Sharon Carter has made a deal with a digital devil to try and save her man, while the Falcon searches for answers and Captain America can only wait helplessly, his fate unknown.  (Oh, and while all that was happenening, Baron Zemo busted the evil Bravo out of jail for unknown purposes…)

SOMETHING’S UP IN HYDRA-TOWN…

The issue opens with a fascinating study in changing Marvel attitudes, as Tony Stark runs some tests to try and figure out what it is that has transformed Cap.  His dialogue is very reminiscent of the current Matt Fraction version, the Robert Downey Junior movie inspired wise guy version, but Alan Davis draws an old-school 90′s Tony Stark, looking very much the elder statesman.  I remember when that version of Stark was the primary one, a time before we were led to hate him for his futurist ways and corner-cutting of civil liberties, back before the Civil War.  (At least we get a new one this summer!)  Cap is frustrated that he can’t be in the field, but Falcon agrees to do the legwork, mentioning ominously that he can’t get in touch with Agent 13.  The reason for that becomes clear, as we find Sharon Carter at the tender mercies of one Samuel “Starr” Saxon, aka The Machinesmith, aka a renegade human mind trapped in cybernetic limbo, able to inhabit and control all electronics.  Fighty-fighty time, as a chase ensues throughout the Quincarrier, as Saxon taunts Sharon with the secret of who is behind it all…

DOO DAH, DOO DAH!

The art throughout this issue is wonderfully smooth, Davis delivering even in the quiet conversational scenes, showing his chops as a draftsman.  Sadly, though, Brubaker’s script for this issue is a little too secretive, recapping what we already learned in the previous three issues without giving us more information, and a fatal bit of fridge logic comes into play as Machinesmith reveals he was never really trapped in the first place.  Why would he wait around to be let loose, then?  There’s no real explanation, and things get even more random as The Falcon falls into the hands of Bravo (who just rubs me the wrong way, signifying nothing but X-Pac Heat), and something strange and sinister happens…

…that also doesn’t get explained.  The issue ends with Captain America worrying that the American Dream has come to an end (very similar to his worries during Fear Itself, during Civil War, and honestly, during most of his appearances since 2001) and Sharon Carter busting in with the announcement that she knows how to fix Steve’s problem.

THE VERDICT:  IT GOES AROUND, IT COMES AROUND.

The biggest problem with this issue is that it keeps EVERYONE in the dark too much, with Cap, Tony Stark, The Falcon, Sharon and the reader all flailing to figure out what’s going on with the plot.  It’s a gorgeously drawn issue, but there just wasn’t enough meat to it justify $2.99, much less the $3.99 that Marvel inexplicably charges for this book, among others.  Captain America #9 suffers from a bad case of “middle chapter” syndrome, but gets by on its charm and good looking art, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.  It will probably read better in trade, but, sadly, Bravo will still suck…

Rating: ★★★½☆