Review: Captain America #698
When we last left Steve Rogers a.k.a Captain America, he had been hunted down by Kraven the Hunter under orders from Rampart and despite Cap’s efforts, he is caught and put on ice-literally.
So here’s the thing, Mark Waid and Chris Samnee took over Captain America from Nick Spencer (especially since this Waid’s second go around at writing a solo book for the character) after the whole Secret Empire event Spencer had set up since 2016. This book seemed to have started as a response or apology to the backlash where the character is now back to his roots while at the same time, tries to redeem the character for the readers who were displeased with Secret Empire.
And this is where things get interesting, the book starts out exactly as it does with Steve Rogers going on a redemptive road trip after the whole HYDRA Cap incident. And then he gets trapped in a black of ice and is then sent to the future. A dystopian future. That is a pretty big leap given how issue #696 started that I admit, I didn’t see coming but it did and it’s a curious direction.
Yeah, dear Steve once again is out of the ice (which, deja vu) and has now woken up to a dystopian future where the head of Rampart is now king. No more presidents, no more superheroes, no more law as we know it. It’s all run by this single jerk who wants to control everything. This book seems to be a response to the Trump administration and how it seems Waid is predicting where this country could go. And it’s not a bad idea and so far, I’m on board. Especially given the whole rebellion against rich monarchs plot where Cap joins in. It’s kind of an ideal scenario. Captain America was never about jingoism or sucking up to governments, the character always presents as we should aspire to be with our morals and Waid is still embodying that spirit, just with a different premise for the character.
In fact, I think this may be a solid Captain America as it goes on. There are no Avengers, no Sam Wilson or Bucky to help him, he has ordinary people like Liang and others as his comrades to help him fight against oppressive monarchies. And the rebels themselves are no pushovers, they still keep on fighting despite the odds against them. And with Cap on their side, they have a boost. Cap isn’t just a leader, he is a symbol of hope and given this country’s president promoting bigotry, hate and screwing over the lower class, we need to aspire to be like Cap and fight on against such oppressive forces.
Storywise, Waid does offer plenty of set up and intrigue especially given his choice of year for when Cap wakes up, that’s an interesting choice of year but I won’t reveal it. And really, nothing ever seemed forced. Everything just comes naturally especially one of my favorite scenes being a kid and his mother rescued by Cap himself just as a drone was closing in on them. There’s even a cute touch of him going along taking a picture with the kid. Given the circumstances, he suggested to take it quick but he obliged all the same but he wasn’t annoyed-even gave a smile too. Those single pages and panels feel like Captain America as he should be and Waid is extremely good at that. It just feels like Cap is Waid’s bread and butter as opposed to others he has written in the past.
New characters work well as much too like Liang, she’s a character people can relate to and her motivations and actions are understandable and she gels well with Cap himself. Liang is certainly promising among the Marvel universe’s stable of awesome women.
Chris Samnee’s art certainly helps matters with plenty of shading, looks pretty stylized that it fits the tone of the book Waid is going for and he stages the action scenes well enough, probably elevated the staging on what was written on page. Even his use of shadows works well to good effect especially given the colors look a bit degraded but again, fit the tone of the book Waid is going for. So it’s another Marvel book where it feels like the artist and writer are in sync with each other, neither feel contradicting to each other.
If you’re a fan of the character and looking for a return to form of sorts if you hated Secret Empire, this new arc, and this issue, is not a bad way to go with. Check it out!