The first superhero Civil War featured Captain America versus Iron Man for the soul of Marvel’s heroes. Now, Captain America is stuck in the middle, pulled in both directions. Will he choose a side? Your Major Spoilers review of Sam Wilson: Captain America #11 awaits!
Previously in Sam Wilson: Captain America: “After Steve Rogers was drained of the Super-Soldier Serum that kept him young and strong, he passed his shield to me: Sam Wilson, AKA The Falcon. Now, I fight the good fight as Captain America.”
STUCK IN THE MIDDLE
The main thrust of this issue is Captain America’s place in the upcoming Civil War II, whether he will fall on the side of Captain Marvel (who wants to take action based on Inhuman Ulysses’ ability to predict the future) and Iron Man (who believes that Ulysses is merely able to see likely probabilities, not the actual future.) I have to say, this issue is the first one that clearly defines the struggle between Carol and Tony to my liking, with Tony using scientific explanations for why it’s all wrong, while Carol appeals to Cap’s emotions and protective tendencies. Unfortunately, it all comes down to one word for Sam Wilson, a word that he’s all-too-familiar with: Profiling.
Add to that the presence of the Americops (faceless jackbooted thugs operating under the auspices of protecting Real America from Undesirable Elements) and Sam Wilson’s entire life is a recipe for disaster…
A LITTLE BIT TOO TIMELY
I have been very uncomfortable reading Nick Spencer’s work on this series, referencing as it does real-world issues regarding race, policing and the interactions thereof, but this issue does a much better job of presenting the situation. Add in the presence of New Warrior Rage, always a reactionary hero, and it’s a very thoughtful, complex comic book story… that still makes me uncomfortable with the parallels to reality. Daniel Acuña’s work in this issue is first-rate, especially the mirrored faceless Americops, and this issue gives us the best looking Rage since Mark Bagley quit drawing New Warriors 20-odd years ago. There’s even some wonderful character interaction, as Captain America is forced to choose a side, but ends up being incredibly angry of the side he ends up on, complete with Tony Stark obliviously offering him money and Carol realizing that she never had a chance at swaying him…
THE BOTTOM LINE: COMPLEX COMMENTARY
This comic book puts me in a strange position: I appreciate when writers want to address real-world social issues through their work, and a Captain America title is a perfect vehicle for that, especially in today’s context. Nick Spencer does a very good job of presenting Sam Wilson’s perspective here, and delivers and issue that makes both narrative and character sense, and takes the over-arching crossover ties and uses them very judiciously to support the book’s narrative. And yet, I’m still uncomfortable with a superhero-driven look at racial tension and policing, especially given the mostly Caucasian creators involved. With those caveats, I still rate Sam Wilson: Captain America #11 as a solid read that handles these important social issues well enough, with excellent art and a charismatic main character, earning an impressive 4 out of 5 stars overall. There’s good stuff to be had in these pages, even if I worry that it will all just wrap up with “AND THEN THEY FIGHT!”