Steve Rogers is a man out of time once more. But this time, things are much more complicated… Your Major Spoilers Review of Captain America #698 awaits!
Storytellers: Mark Waid & Chris Samnee
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Captain America: “Captain America recently defeated a villainous group called Rampart in Nebraska, and in retaliation, they hired Kraven The Hunter to capture Steve and deliver him to them alive. But while tangling with Kraven, Steve fell into the ocean, and Rampart arrived to put him on ice — literally! Now Captain America is, once again, a man out of time…”
I LOVE THE ‘BOMB POP’ GAG
As this issue opens, Captain America comes to after last issue’s fall into the ocean. (At this point, we have to presume that the super-soldier serum in his veins predisposes him to be able to survive years frozen in blocks of ice, by the way, which is a most impressive accidental reveal.) He is awakened by a group of resistance fighters who stole him from the headquarters of Rampart where his frozen form was being displayed as a trophy. Cap is stunned to find America transformed into a dystopian wasteland, with ritual executions, most of the citizenry treated as second-class at best and Rampart as an oligarchy feeding off all the remaining resources. After a run-in with the militarized police force that nearly takes out the young people who saved him, Captain America knows what his new mission is: To take their country back.
THE REVEAL OF THE DATE IS A REAL WHAM
This story is really a quandary for me: The concept is strong, the art is Samnee working his usual magic and the concept of Captain America as a freedom fighter is one that always works, to the point where it actually feels more than a little bit familiar. (Just a few years ago, Cap spent many issues trapped in an alternate dimension fighting in a crapsack world ruled by Arnim Zola, if memory serves.) But with its focus on stopping a corrupt upper class from destroying what the United States really stands for, it can’t help but feel like commentary on the present divisive state of political affairs. Moreover, it feels like an intentional counterpoint to the actions of Evil Steve during the mess that was Secret Empire, which I hate to admit serves to link the two stories together narratively, which negatively colors my perception of a well-done issue of comics. Would I have felt differently before S.E.? I can’t say with certainty, but it is an problem for me right now.
BOTTOM LINE: I *WANT* TO JUDGE IT ON ITS OWN MERITS…
With the big 700 issue coming, Captain America is clearly gearing up for something big and flashy and I certainly trust this team to pull off such an anniversary with aplomb, but I can’t help but feel like this is an intentional overcorrection/reaction to the excesses of the previous era and something about that feels very manipulative to me. That said, Captain America #698 features really lovely visuals by Chris Samnee and some nice story beats (the collaborative efforts of this creative team mean that I won’t credit either creator with sole responsibility for ’em), but it’s not the grand slam homerun that I expected from this team, earning a still-impressive 4 out of 5 stars overall. The fact that the leader of the freedom fighters keeps calling Steve ‘Bomb Pop’ amuses me greatly, though…