By now, I think most followers of Marvel are moving past the initial shock of a Steve Rogers no longer dedicated to spreading American liberty and fighting with, not against, a perceived evil. As someone more casually attuned to the world of superhero comics, the news of Captain America’s new allegiance to Hydra was something that piqued my interest somewhat, but not enough to make think it was just a gimmick. Fans and newsmakers were looking to make some copy from the supposed controversy, but in the end, the only thing that mattered was the comic itself. In that way, Captain America: Steve Rogers has been a fascinating series that has proven to be more than simply a way to bring attention to Marvel as a brand and purveyor of superhero fantasy. Now that we’re into the fourth issue of this new series, the action is starting to ramp up, and the intrigue is becoming more palpable with each page.
Indeed, one of the most intriguing aspects of this fourth issue is writer Nick Spencer’s taut and more direct control of the tone, action, and dialogue. While reading this comic, I felt that everything melded into a seamless continuation of Winter Soldier’s modern political thrilleresque milieu: shadowy organizations with deep underground headquarters, Congressional oversight hearings, and the military industrial complex combined with sci-fi voodoo. These strategic uses of diverse locations invest readers in the scope of this story, that there is something more happening here than at first glance.
But we didn’t come for the bureaucracy; we came for Cap.
So what is going on here? Mainly, the pieces that set in the earlier issues are finally getting put into play. There’s a lot packed into this issue (which I shall not spoil for you). Something subtle that caught my attention Spencer’s jarring use of time as a concept for showcasing the high concept of the issue. One of the through-lines of issue four is the passage of time and how it affects action. With each panel, the tension to get to the bottom of Captain’s turn toward Hydra becomes clearer. The story shifts between flashbacks, mini-flashbacks, and forward jumps. We see more about Steve’s childhood and how, possibly, that is influencing his deeds in the present.
The artwork—by Javier Pina and Miguel Sepulveda—does a great job of heightening up the drama with equal amounts of blank space and dense panels. I also quite enjoyed Rachelle Rosenberg color choices that make the panels distinctly pop out or subtly enhance emotions.
Starting with this issue, there is a lot at stake. The next chapters of this story will no doubt expand on the twists and turns, conspiracy, and spectacle. In issue four, the creative team is starting to ramp up its stride, no longer burdened by exposition and media headlines, which certainly influenced me to take a more holistic view of the pages at hand. The story is pushing readers in directions I’m sure they didn’t expect to be invested in. It’ll be interesting to see how everything resolves as Captain America’s genuine plans come to light.
AJ Frost is an editor/writer based out of Phoenix, AZ.