Review: Captain America #3

Cap and the Black Panther embark on a daring raid into the heart of the Nuke army, while Sharon Carter takes on a secret mission into danger!

There’s a brilliance in Ta-Nehisi Coates‘ run on Captain America that can be summed up in just one panel in Captain America #3. The issue has Cap heading the “middle America,” a town that was left behind before Hydra. When Hydra took over America, they brought back work, they improved the schools, they brought healthcare with them. These people, are those “left behind” in Marvel’s world reflecting the very real sense of the same in our real world.

Coates doesn’t go for the easy path of labeling them racist, or saying their racist in their association and acceptance of Hydra. Instead, Coates uses the situation to explore American ideals and how these individuals have abandoned them but at the same time they’ve been abandoned as well. These individuals feel they were made a promise in America’s excellence something they haven’t seen, something they lost. And, they were, are, willing to abandon their countrymen to again feel that.

It’s that promise that’s fascinating and Coates with one panel, the one above. “Morning in America” refers to the award winning campaign ad run by Ronald Reagan in 1984 which featured Americans going to work with a calm, optimistic narration. It suggested any improvement to the United States was due to Reagans policies enacted in 1980. The slogan is a metaphor for renewal. Nevermind America had to give up so much for those policies that led to genocide at home (AIDS crisis), an economy that left average Americans behind, and illegal wars throughout. We gave up many of our ideals, Americans helping each other, for Reagan and the Republican promise of “individualism.”

In one panel, Coates sums up the themes and ideas he’s exploring throughout this initial arc. He also shows that Captain America remains a politically centered character and series.

And even with that, Coates still manages to get some fight scenes in that reminds us, it’s still an action comic. It’s possible to mix the political with the entertaining. It’s possible to have the best of both worlds. And it can work and work really well.

Leinil Francis Yu’s art, with ink from Gerry Alanguilan and color by Sunny Gho, is fantastic as expected. There’s a weariness about it all and you can feel the weight and tiredness, the hope and loss, on the shoulders of every character. Yu is able to balance a quiet moment in a bar with an action scene in an evil group’s lair. There’s main street America and underneath an insidiousness of it all. All delivered through the art and tiny details.

The issue, the series so far, is utterly brilliant. It questions where we are as a nation. It questions what it is Captain America is standing up for. It makes us think and debate what America truly is. It also reminds us that we too easily trade our ideals for security and have on too many occasions abandoned those who live in the United States.

Story: Ta-Nehisi Coates Art: Leinil Francis Yu
Ink: Gerry Alanguilan Color: Sunny Gho Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review