Fresh off his big TV debut, John Walker has to deal with his would-be replacement AND his sister. It’s gonna be a rough week. Your Major Spoilers review of U.S. Agent #5 from Marvel Comics awaits!
U.S. AGENT #5
Penciler: Georges Jeanty
Inker: Karl Story
Colorist: Matt Milla
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: April 28, 2021
Previously in U.S. Agent: The former U.S.Agent struggling to save an impoverished mining town from an unhinged Super-Patriot, who happens to be his own sister suffering a major psychotic break. But can he place the town’s lives over hers? And can Walker survive a smackdown against his replacement, the murderous Saint? Which U.S.Agent will retain the shield?
WHAT DOES AMERICA MEAN?
We start, as the last few issues have, with an interview with Stubbs Tate, a man who witnessed… something involving the U.S. Agent. John Walker’s younger sister Kate has recovered one of his old shields and is acting as a new Super-Patriot, while he battles The Saint, his government issued replacement. Saint is powered by a super-soldier serum variant (one that Kate has also injected herself with, in a manner very reminiscent of the ‘Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ series that just ended), but it’s one that created the American Kaiju, which means that it comes with a giant blue dragon. The helicarrier they’re on crashes, though it’s not fatal, thanks to the mysterious Morrie, and John finally has it out with his replacement.
He also steals Saint’s shield for his own use, because he’s a hero, but he’s still a giant jerk.
OH, AND THERE’S A KAIJU
In classic Priest fashion, this story jumps backwards and forwards in time, making for an amusing but hard-to-follow issue. John’s battle hinges not on super-powers but on his bone-headed determination, and he is greeted by the very people he has saved with a series of blunt insults, which is another Priest trope that works well in these pages. It does, however, end the story with a sort of “Oh.” feeling, making for a slight anti-climax. Jeanty and Story do a good job with the art, especially during the battle sequences, but the last few pages of the issue feel oddly sketchy to me. I’m also not clear one what Morrie’s situation is after Saint calling him “Master” last issue, even though I’ve read through this one several times. I think that this whole five-issue miniseries will be more satisfying as a collection, but this one is less successful as a stand-alone.
BOTTOM LINE: NOT BAD
All told, though, U.S. Agent #5 manages to take important elements of the recent TV show and fold them into the 616 Marvel Universe in ways that work, even as the experimental storytelling doesn’t quite stick the landing, making for a better-than-average 3 out of 5 stars overall. Even if the only thing from this story that sticks around is the excellent redesign of Walker’s costume, it’ll be worth it, as this is the best looking U.S. Agent since Byrne debuted him some 700 years ago when I was in high school.
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U.S. AGENT #5
This story wraps up Walker's latest arc in a satisfying way, and even ties into the late, lamented U.S. Avengers title, for a nice wrap-up with a puzzling ending.