In Review: All-New Captain America #1

This is the way Marvel comics should be. Highest possible recommendation.

The covers: Five different images for fans to track down. The Main cover is by Stuart Immonen, Wade Von Grawbadger, and Marte Gracia. It’s a magnificent shot of Sam dressed as Captain America, shield in hand, wings spread out but held low, the reader looking up at him, with a spectacular sun creating a shine behind him. This is perfection. The first Variant is by Paul Pope and it shows nothing of Sam, instead this is another grab on for Guardians of the Galaxy fans featuring Rocket Raccoon and Groot drawn in a poor imitation of Jack Kirby. Why, Marvel? Why? The next Variant is stunning because it’s done by comics legend Alex Ross. It’s an incredible piece showing Sam flying high over the city, his wings cutting the page in half. To his right is a profile of himself and to the left is an ancient Steve Rogers. Amazing detail in all aspects of this including breathtaking work on the city below. Fantastic! The next comes from Sara Pichelli & Laura Martin. This is just as beautiful as Ross’s cover, but it’s simple perfection. Against a white background stands Sam, sans wings, holding his shield high. The image is great and the coloring makes its stand out against all others on the stand. I wish more comics took advantage of having the lead character standing on a white backdrop. The final Variant is an odd one from Kris Anka. It has the Falcon followed by an American eagle flying before a faded American flag. It’s not Sam as the Falcon, though, it’s Stephen Colbert. I must have missed that episode of The Colbert Report because I’m sure that Joe Quesada went on to show Stephen this cover. Yes, it’s funny, but I would rather have Anka do Sam as this character and not Colbert. Overall grades: Main A+, Variant Pope F, Variant Ross A+, Variant Pichelli & Martin A+, and Variant Anka C- 

The story: This is only the second instance of the year where the first page summary was necessary for my understanding of the story. In a nutshell, Sam has assumed the responsibility of Captain America from Steve Rogers who has decided to retire with Sharon Carter. Assuming the role of Nomad is Arnim Zola’s son Ian. The issue begins strongly as Sam Wilson recounts his past and how his father had a strong influence on his life. In the present, Sam is infiltrating a Hydra base, with Steve providing support through a communications device. Suddenly, Steve’s device goes dead–Sam’s too deep to contact. “Just try to enjoy the day,” Sharon says. “Let Sam be Captain America.” The action that follows as Cap storms the hidden base is incredible. Ian’s entrance as Nomad is great, and I loved his comment on age. One of Cap’s infamous villains is in the base and causes havoc for both heroes. Loved the bad guy’s dialogue. Writer Rick Remender does an outstanding job launching Sam as Captain America and having him with Ian as Nomad is a sweet way to spotlight their differences in how they solve a mission. Speaking of which, the mission has a surprise on the penultimate page, with the last page leaving readers holding their breath for 30 days wondering how Cap will get out of this one. Outstanding. Overall grade: A+

The art: Unbelievably superior visuals on this book are provided by Stuart Immonen on pencils and Wade Von Grawbadger on inks. The first page is a nice subtle beginning showing Sam’s early upbringing which explodes into a double-paged spread of Sam over a jungle as he looks for the entrance to the Hydra base. The sequences as he battles the minions are amazing, with highlights being on Pages 5 – 10. That flip at the bottom of 5 is great, and that panel on 9 and 10 that includes the base is cinematic. Watching him use that shield is poetry in motion. I love the third panel on Page 11. The Hydra agent on 12 is beautiful. When the villain for the issue is revealed, his fight scenes are perfection. I could not think of any way that Immonen and Von Grawbadger could top themselves on this book, but then the final page left me gasping. This should be required reading material for any person who wants to draw a super hero book. It’s flawless. Overall grade: A+ 

The colors: Spectacular colors on this book from Marte Gracia with Eduardo Navarro. The opening page nicely highlights Sam in every panel, draining all color away from this flashback. Doing so sets a somber tone for Wilson’s past, but also makes the double-paged splash of 2 and 3 more dramatic. Great use of colors for the forest and the sun backlighting the characters. The energy blasts from Hydra’s weapons are so strong–I loved that they were evil emerald! Sound effects also get a big punch up from the bright colors Gracia and Navarro use. When the Hydra tower first appears it’s beautifully sinister with its metallic surfaces lit by the raging fires. When this issue’s villain enters the fray, backgrounds grow crimson to make the battle more stressful. Just great work! Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue and narration (the same font), sounds, and transmissions are created by VC’s Joe Caramagna. The sound effects are spectacular. Half the fun of an action comic book are the creative sounds used to get the noises into readers’ heads, and Caramagna does an awesome job at this. Many modern day comics shy away from sounds, but I’m as pleased as punch that Caramagna was allowed to insert them into this book. Mr. Caramagna, you had me at Brakka Brakka. Overall grade: A+

The final line: A must read for any fan of comics. Spectacular story and art that will turn anyone into a giddy twelve year old. This is the way Marvel comics should be. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+



Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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