This week, we take a look at the return of the first Captain America ongoing series since July 2021 in a SPOILER-filled review. Is Sam Wilson’s next tour with the shield all it’s cracked up to be? Plus: after the break, read along for some spoiler-free rapid reviews of Moon Knight: Black, White, and Blood #1, Shang-Chi #12, and What If…? Miles Morales #3.
Captain America: Symbol of Truth #1
Writer: Tochi Onyebuchi
Artist: R.B. Silva
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Color Artist: Jesus Aburtov
Cover Artists: R.B. Silva & Jesus Aburtov
The Captain America franchise has been in a state of limbo (no, not THAT Limbo) since the summer of 2021, bouncing around from mini-series to mini-series in the time since Ta-Nehisi Coates concluded his time writing Steve Rogers’ solo book. So when Marvel announced not one, but TWO new ongoings, I was more than ready to try my hand at one of these series.
I’m not a regular Cap reader, yet on occasion, I try to pop in to see how Captain America (whoever they may be) is being written and who their newest foes are. Cap #0 didn’t do much for me last month (though the sections with Sam interested me a lot, especially the page that hinted at the White Wolf), but I figured I would give Sam Wilson some love in his new #1.
Thankfully, it feels right to say that Tochi Onyebuchi, R.B. Silva, Jesus Aburtov, and Joe Caramagna are off to a really interesting start. The action feels strong and well paced, while the look at Sam’s personal relationship with Misty draws me in completely. I think I definitely need to go back and check out the last Falcon series to see where they left off.
I was completely surprised to see Joaquín Torres appear here as the Falcon again (since I didn’t read much of the Champions book he was last in), but I’m wicked excited to see him in this opening issue. While Nick Spencer’s run left a bad taste in my mouth, Joaquín was a character I really thought had some potential, and I’m looking forward to seeing where Onyebuchi takes him.
Silva’s layouts are, as always, stunning, and I’m really glad to see how well Aburtov‘s colors work with Silva’s line art. I know this has to be a cliche, but there’s this excellent cinematic quality to every panel on each page that makes the book feel like the first episode of some prestige series (even when the panel is a shot of fried chicken and french fries). Caramagna adds the cherry on top with some absolutely killer sound effects throughout the book.
Being, ostensibly, a series about America and the political ramifications of fighting for a country that doesn’t give a lot in return, I’m really interested to see how Sam reacts to that push and pull throughout the book. His politics in this issue are striking, and there’s a scene where Sam gets frustrated with a “Wakanda Forever” rally because it makes him feel like he’s doing an inadequate job of making the country livable for POC. Just when Misty gets into his head and tries to dig deeper, the book moves past that and we get back to the train heist plot we were following in the beginning.
The issue feels like it’s just on the cusp of talking about something important, but it brushes over it in order to focus on the more comic-booky subplots. There is some set-up for some really interesting material about immigration involving Joaquín’s cousin, though I wish we had more of an exploration of that in this issue. The exclusion might be due to the nature of corporate cape comics, but I’ll keep up with the story to see whether or not this turns into something more than lip-service. I’m assuming Onyebuchi has more brewing in this department, as I think his writing is really smart, so I’m wondering how much of a slow burn we’re buckling in for.
The ending has White Wolf hiring Crossbones to overthrow the country with him and to kill Sam. I know Onyebuchi has been using Hunter in his Legends: Black Panther book, and it looks like he enjoyed the character enough to use him here moving ahead. I don’t think we’ve seen Hunter in a huge role since the end of Christopher Priest’s run on Black Panther in the early aughts, so I’m pumped to see where we go from here.
Verdict: STRONG BROWSE. I’m drawn in by the art, action, and personal drama, but I’m still a little weary as to where the overall narrative is going to move. I’ll definitely be checking out issue two at the very least.
- Moon Knight: Black, White & Blood #1
- In spite of its title, the first entry in Moon Knight’s Black, White & Blood uses red less for blood spattering and more for scarabs, Spider-Man, and sound effects (with the exception of the cover by Bill Sienkiewicz)… But that suits this cycle of cyclical short stories just fine. The first, “Anubis Rex” by Jonathan Hickman & Chris Bachalo gives us Moon Knight in space (but while it is cold and barren there, he can indeed fight them). Next up is “So White. Yet, So Dark.,” by Murewa Ayodele & Dotun Akande, a hilarious team-up that reunites the Fist of Khonshu with one of his very first allies. And “The End” by Marc Guggenheim & Jorge Fornés demonstrates how this line of anthologies allows creators to place the Marvel characters in formal experiments in a way we rarely get to see otherwise. All three stories are lettered by Cory Petit. —AJK
- Shang-Chi #12
- Writer Gene Luen Yang and artist Marcus To bring this chapter of Marvel’s greatest hand-to-hand combatant to a solid action-packed conclusion. For the past 12 issues, readers were shown the path that Shang-Chi has taken in order to reorganize his father’s Five Weapons Society into a force for good, often at odds with the rest of the Marvel Universe and his own family, it hasn’t been easy making these changes. To add to his challenges, his long-lost grandfather, Xin, wants to eliminate everyone who shares Shang-Chi’s blood and take over the mystical realm of Ta Lo. This issue wraps up these storylines while continuing to world build, and while I was never a fan of making him more like his movie counterpart, this series has made strides at making it an organic transition with his leveling up and setting the stage for the next chapter in his journey. —GC3
- What If… Miles Morales #3
- In What If #3, Anthony Piper, Edgar Salazar, Chris Sotomayor, and Cory Petit imagine a universe where Miles Morales chose a different path and wasn’t bitten by a genetically altered arachnid. If you are a fan of Hulk comics, some favorites from Hulk’s 616 roster appear in this issue, Emil Blonsky (pre-transformation) and Doc Samson (as the Avengers Mansion celebrity therapist). Using the frame of a therapy session between Miles and Doc Samson, Hulk Miles explores his complicated relationship with his Uncle Aaron (still the Prowler in this universe) and the powerful feelings he has about transforming into the Hulk. But the issue also included some laughs; I enjoyed Miles hiding his powers, so he didn’t have to attend the Xavier School and fight robots during recess—and wonder how the Stepford Cuckoos feel in this universe? I am looking forward to issue #4, What If Miles Morales Was Thor? based on the look of the hammer alone. —ROK
Next Week: Not one, not two, count ’em, SEVEN X-Men books in one week. Can my tiny brain handle them all?