Monday, April 18, 2016

'Captain America: Sam Wilson' No. 7 reminds me of classic annuals

The seventh issue of CAPTAIN AMERICA: SAM WILSON is a good read.

There's not a lot of story to go around actually, but it reminds me of the old-school annuals.

There's a great cover by Alex Ross and the main story reunites Sam Wilson's Captain America with Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes). More of this team-up, Marvel, pleeeease!

I love the insight Wilson has about the two men who not only have been partners of the original Captain America, but also have continued Steve Rogers' legacy: "We may have our differences — and we certainly have our agendas — but in the end, we're friends. More than that, we're brothers. There's a connection that comes with wielding the shield — a tie that binds us — we're all Captain America."

Nicely done, writer Nick Spencer!

While Cap and Winter Soldier are teaming up in the opening pages, Crossbones is beating the you-know-what out of Steve Rogers. As Rogers takes a beating, he reflects on his, Wilson and Barnes' histories.
Rogers puts it best about what brings the three heroes together: "Pleasant Hill, Maria Hill's super-prison, where she was using a Cosmic Cube to rewrite the personal histories of her inmates." Supervillains being brainwashed into turning their lives around? Yes indeed, that's a recipe for disaster. 

(This is part of Marvel Comics' "Standoff" crossover storyline, but honestly I didn't feel I needed to read any other issues to understand the plot. And that's typical of stories that bounce around from title to title.) 

And just like the classic annuals of my youth, there are big issues that Spencer deftly addresses: The legacy of Captain America, major heroes collaborating to take on the big challenge ahead of them (Wilson, Barnes and Rogers), the moral fall of a hero (Hill thinks she's doing the right thing — yet knowing what she did was criminal — which comes around to bite her in the rear) and finally, multiple archenemies (Crossbones, the Wrecking Crew, Baron Zemo) And when there's a Cosmic Cube story, you know the Red Skull isn't too far behind!

In classic Rogers fashion, he's getting it handed it to him by Crossbones and just when he's on the verge of considering giving into death, he finds the unbelievable inner reserve he has to defeat his opponent.

Again, I'll hand it over to Barnes and Rogers to give you a hint at what to expect with the always interesting Captain America story — and what it means for the future …

Barnes (at seeing the triumphant Rogers): "Wow. About time."
Rogers: "Thanks, Buck. It's good to be back."

Grade: B+ 

Issue 7 ends with three fairly forgettable back-up stories, none of which have connection to current continuity. Obviously, Marvel editors told these writers to pen stories suited for celebrating Captain America's 75 years.

Each of the stories basically are forgettable, but the three creative teams are anything but: writer Joss Whedon reunited with artist John Cassaday (their ASTONISHING X-MEN run is a must-read); Tim Sale (handling both the story and art — a first as far as I know!) with an assist from artist/colorist Dave Stewart complemented by Richard Starkings' letters (the team that brought you Sale's great Marvel "color" stories with writer Jeph Loeb); and writer Greg Rucka, penning a short story that could have come straight out of writer Ed Brubaker's lengthy, not to mention unbelievable, CAPTAIN AMERICA run.

Whedon's World War II-era story rationalizes why Cap uses a shield and not rifles: He may be a soldier, but here's on the battlefield to protect the innocents as much as he is to attack Axis enemies.

Sale's story depends on his and Stewart's art, so the silent panels give this mission to infiltrate Hydra a nice level of drama. The interlude between a young Rogers and his mother and sentimental ending undercut the rest of a story. The art, however, is spectacular.

Rucka's story has a nice twist ending. Rogers is on a plainclothes mission to stop an assassination attempt at a ballet and to say anything more would ruin Black Widow's surprising role.

Grade: B

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