Review: The United States of Captain America #1

The United States of Captain America #1

The United States of Captain America #1 is a comic I’ve been looking forward to reading for some time. The concept of exploring what Captain America “means” and “stands for” is a comic that interests me. This debut issue lays out some of that as the adventure begins and the result is a bit mixed.

Writer Christopher Cantwell lays things out pretty well as the issue begins. Steve Rogers, relaxing at home as he thinks about what he stands for. Waxing poetically about the American “dream” he thinks about how dreams are fleeting and that this is a nation of two dreams. One dream involves fences and exclusion while the other is shared. The first dream can become a lie and raw deal and the second dream can become a raw deal. Cantwell nails something and in today’s shifting national narrative, there’s a worthy discussion to be had about America and what it stands for and what it’s made up of.

That interesting thought exercise as Steve is attacked and his shield stolen by an unknown assailant. From there it’s a race and a question as to who is behind it. An attack on a train and an attempted assassination later, and it’s a comic that shifts from an interesting discussion to a buddy road trip.

Teaming up with Sam Wilson, Captain America, Steve meets an individual inspired by his actions. Aaron Fischer is a teen runaway who has taken up the mantle of Captain America riding the train rails and protecting travelers. The idea of Captain America inspiring individuals also is an interesting concept. But, the overall concept is a bit fantastic moving beyond a more grounded reality I’d have liked to see. As if putting on a mask you can suddenly take on a group of guards holding you hostage. There’s something that breaks a wall in a way giving us something the reader can no longer connect to. We the reader can no longer connect to Cap ourselves and this new Captain America isn’t a character we can connect to. What was hinted at a trip across America with individuals inspired by Cap that we might see ourselves in feels more like an introduction of the next generation of heroes that has happened in comic annuals over and over.

The art of the two stories within is nice. Dale Eaglesham handles the main story with Jan Bazaldua on the second. The layouts are the most interesting thing about that main story as the pages feel almost like an scrapbook in a way. Panels overlay panels as if pictures are laid over pictures telling the story of a trip. Bazaldua’s art is good with some nice “hero” moments as Aaron’s origin is revealed and he first dons the mask and shield. The visuals are good overall but there isn’t that moment that really pops. They’re joined by Matt Milla on color and Joe Caramagna on lettering and everything together is visually nice.

The United States of Captain America #1 isn’t a bad debut. There’s a lot packed in and there’s a lot that’s fun and enjoyable. The problem is there’s been quite a few deconstruction of heroes stories lately, and there’s quite a few that are just far better. There’s something almost surface-level deep about this start. It feels like it’s attempting to straddle a line of deep look and typical superhero escapism. We’ll see as the series progresses in how it balances those two forces.

Story: Christopher Cantwell Art: Dale Eaglesham, Jan Bazaldua
Color: Matt Milla Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Story: 7.25 Art: 7.25 Overall: 7.25 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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