I did my best going into reading Captain America: Steve Rogers #17 with an open mind as I’ve not been impressed with the greater Secret Empire storyline. There’s some good here as it fills in some gaps and answer questions that have been out there like Magneto’s role in Roger’s
Nazi Hydra empire, a bit more about the Inhuman internment, and generally Rogers’ justification of it all.
The crux of the story is a sit down interview with Steve Rogers where all questions are on the table except the mass murder he committed in Las Vegas. What follows is a comic that doesn’t quite fit into what’s depicted in other series and generally is a poor attempt at justification in the guise of storytelling. Reported Sally Floyd is chosen to interview Rogers as she also interviewed him during the Civil War (which opens up a who bunch of interesting things with Cap being Hydra then that hasn’t really been explained). She’s given instructions by Dr. Faustus as to not ask about Las Vegas (which also questions why Faustus doesn’t mind control her to not do it).
The resulting comic is a back and forth poor attempt at Frost/Nixon with the reporter acting as a foil for us readers to understand Rogers’ thinking of this all. More jobs are mentioned, national security and safety are brought up, pretty much the usual things that justify fascism and the Hydra take over.
There are some big issues in that Las Vegas is shown as a giant crater in the ground, which contradicts what we saw in Secret Empire #2 with some heroes trying to save survivors. But… details. And for a group that’s all about symbolism and co-opting, why is Cap in green fatigues instead of his uniform?
But, the difficulty of this issue is not just the lack of creativity, it’s the issue it feels like Nick Spencer is attempting to justify the story to us the reader with some subtle jabs along the ways to his “haters.” It’s no secret there’s been lots of criticism, from this site included, and there’s been a willingness of comic readers and fans to speak up about the tone deafness of it all. Unfortunately, like he did in Captain America: Sam Wilson, Spencer feels like he has taken that real world conversation and moved it to the page spoken through Captain America, again making it apparent that the characters are nothing but mouthpieces for him as opposed to his attempting to properly channel the character themselves.
If a bland story wasn’t enough of a reason to skip this issue, the are by Andres Guinaldo and Ramon Bachs with colors by Rachelle Rosenberg is stilted and just odd at times. Rogers doesn’t look like Rogers and short cuts of lack of detail are too often the case and too hard to ignore. The comic looks and feels like a second tier event spin off comic which too often have questionable art and feel like cash ins. What makes it all worse is there are moments when the art is great, the above is an example (I like how it’s framed).
With art that’s just not up to par and a story that feels like a writer attempting to justify an entire event, Captain America: Steve Rogers #17 falls flat in so many ways. It’s another example of a poorly thought out event that’s being driven in odd ways with mixed messages. An issue that gives a little more depth feels more like a Twitter rant justifying its own existence.
Story: Nick Spencer Art: Andres Guinaldo and Ramon Bachs Color: Rachelle Rosenberg
Story: 5.0 Art: 5.0 Overall: 5.0 Recommendation: Pass