Welcome to this week’s edition of the Marvel Rundown! Our main book this week is Captain America #0 by a slew of creators, notably the writers who will be telling two different Captain America series as both of those launch in the coming months.
We’ve got a review of that book and other books in the Rapid Rundown section, all ahead in the Marvel Rundown!
Captain America #0
Written by Tochi Onyebuchi, Collin Kelly, and Jackson Lanzing
Art by Mattia De Iulis
Lettering by Joe Caramagna
Cover by Alex Ross
It’s been a hot minute since a Captain America book has been on the shelves. Nearly a year, in fact. Ta-Nehisi Coates and Leonard Kirk’s Captain America #30 hit stores and digital markets last July, and there’s been nary a peep as to when we’d see the star-spangled man again. Sure, he’s shown up in an Avengers book or two, but he’s a beloved character made even more beloved by his appearances in those Marvel movies. What gives?
Well, this may be why. I’m not sure how long this Jonathan Hickman-esque, House of X-like plan has been in motion, but it’s pretty clear where its influences originated. I just wish this issue excited me as much as I think it wanted to.
Coates’ run was by no means perfect but it brilliantly tackled how and why a character dressed like that should be operating in times such as these, which is a genuine and earnest question that this issue just seems to brush aside. When bombarded by Arnim Zola with a list of truly heinous things that America has done, both to his people and others, Sam Wilson responds with, “Yup. That America.” I’m not asking this comic’s writers to have Sam buckle under the pressure of such questioning and fall to his knees, suddenly realizing that this Nazi has a point; it just doesn’t give me enough of a reason to believe in Sam’s mission, to believe that he sees something wrong with the country and that him donning the shield will help solve whatever ailments his nation is facing. That Disney+ show, while not successful as a television show, got me rooting for that version of Sam and made me believe that he not only deserved the shield, but that he believed in America enough to serve as an example to others. Tochi Onyebuchi throws in a couple of lines to this effect but, given the real estate he’s given to work with as I suspect he scripted the solo Sam pages, it wasn’t enough to really convince me.
I don’t get any of that from this comic. I’m curious to read the Onyebuchi series spinning out of this issue, but I really don’t know what to expect from the Collin Kelly/Jackson Lanzing-written series running alongside the Sam Wilson series. I expect it to be a little more traditional and retrospective than Onyebuchi’s series, but that’s pure speculation on my part.
Given all that… I still did enjoy this issue. It’s a fun little Captain(s) America story, with some nice Sam/Steve banter in there to satiate the fans. Mattia De Iulis’ artwork isn’t exactly for me, giving me a bit of Alex Ross-lite which I suppose goes along well with the cover, looking a bit more generic and standard before R.B. Silva and Carmen Carnero jumpstart the Sam and Steve books respectively. De Iulis creates some solid action, indulging in some genuinely cinematic flair that I think is impressive but left me a little cold.
I liked the approach the writers took to this issue, with both Sam and Steve trying to stop this Zola rocket from reaching space by different means: Steve working his way up it from the bottom while Sam flies into it from the side, with them eventually meeting at the core. It’s a neat metaphor and gives me a little faith in how Sam and Steve will balance the mantle.
Final Verdict: Strong Browse. I’ve honestly missed reading a Captain America book every month, so the fact that we have two coming soon is a little delightful! This issue left me scratching my head while also hesitantly looking forward to seeing what these writers will be able to pull off for the Captains as their books debut.
- Avengers #55
- For the past few issues, the Avengers have been fighting an all-star lineup of multiverse variants of some of their greatest villains. In the course of rebuilding a cohesive force strong enough to go toe to toe against the Multiversal Masters of Evil, the Avengers have to move forward without their chairman, Black Panther as they assemble a squad of heavy hitters to match them and the bigger threat Mephisto. Jason Aaron keeps it coming with the over-the-top big picture plot threads, and the art team led by Javier Garrón gives us a clear distinctive look at Aaron’s vision with a memorable two-page spread that I don’t want to spoil. If you’re a fan of big picture epic adventures this run will scratch that itch. —GC3
- Doctor Strange: Nexus of Nightmares #1
- In this one-shot by Ralph Macchio, Ibrahim Moustafa, Neeraj Menon, Cory Petit, Todd Nauck, and Rachelle Rosenberg, a one-and-done story set before the current status quo, Doctor Strange has a classic adventure in which he faces off against Nightmare, who is working with Baron Mordo. In fact, other than a passing reference to the Beyonders and their role in the 2015 Secret Wars event, there’s very little continuity to be concerned about at all in this issue. While I prefer my Strange stories to be more visually and narratively psychedelic, and I’m generally more interested when Wanda has the Darkhold, this story is a serviceable (if somewhat straightforward) outing for the Sorcerer Supreme. If you’ve found yourself lost in the midst of the current post-Death of Doctor Strange narrative and just want some Bleecker Street comfort food, well, here you go. —AJK
- Shang-Chi #11
- I missed a couple of issues of this series but was a huge fan of the first story arc and figured I would be fine dropping back in at Shang-Chi #11 by Gene Luen Yang, Marcus To, Erick Arciniega, and Travis Lanham, but that was not the case. If you are behind (like me) and love the character(s) or Gene’s writing, just get back issues, it’s worth it and you won’t be confused on major plot points. However, as a huge fan of Morris, I enjoyed Shang-Chi’s continued throughline with mythical creatures out of A Chinese Bestiary: Strange Creatures from the Guideways Through the Mountains and Seas, edited by Richard E. Strassberg. The Ghost of Lanham was clearly summoned for the most spookum (that’s extra spooky) lettering from the issue’s visitor for the Realm of the Dead, with the different size typography being the cherry on top. In fact, with so many characters at play, all the lettering in this issue went above and beyond to make it clear who was speaking. Plus, I really liked the semi-meta last page splash—“Not today!” —ROK
- Wolverine #20
- If you knew me and my interests, what I’m about to say will shock you: this was a really good issue of Deadpool. Yes, the title says Wolverine. Yes, this is a follow-up to Ben Percy’s X Lives/X Deaths of Wolverine. But this is a wonderfully built issue of Deadpool with a teensy bit of Wolverine. I’m not sure if Percy’s ever written Deadpool before, but he does a great job of capturing the Merc With a Mouth’s voice while not leaning too far into the obnoxious traits the character is known for. Adam Kubert’s art here is, as always, phenomenal, with creative layouts that make the page feel dynamic and free-flowing. The colors by Frank Martin and Dijjo Lima just add to this, helping the scenes to almost pop off out of the issue. The last page reveal of a character we haven’t seen since before HOX/POX is actually really well done and I’m really looking forward to seeing where they’re taken next, especially with the developments of X Lives/X Deaths. I know there might be some readers that complain about the lack of Wolverine in Wolverine, but honestly, this is just a really fun start to the book’s post-Destiny of X return. —CB
Next week: make way for the Knights of X!