[Comic Review] Forward Progress — Captain America #11

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Captain America #11 marks the beginning of a new chapter in Captain America’s life.

Though he was only gone for a moment in Earth years, Steve Rogers spent 12 years of his life in Dimension Z, captive to Arnim Zola and his warrior Mutates.

Last issue, the Captain barely escaped through the portal, and issue #11 treads forward as Captain America sets his eyes forward for himself and the people around him.3

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Extensive medical procedures and a debrief with Maria Hill give Rogers and readers time to sort through what’s he’s been through — the loss of his adopted son Ian, Sharon Carter, and more than a decade on his life. The latter won’t take much of a toll — thanks to the super-soldier serum, Rogers’ body shows no real signs of aging, and besides the scar where Zola’s virus inhabited Rogers’ chest, he’s physically fine.

What’s underneath the surface is what’s important this issue, and Rick Remender’s microscope for the entirety of the run up to now has been on what makes Captain America the man he is. Though the experimental super-soldier gives Rogers his amazing abilities, it’s his willpower, fortitude, and drive that make him standout amongst his peers.

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Once again, readers get a glimpse of Rogers’ childhood through flashbacks. With his mother suffering a terminal condition, Rogers is confronted with the fact he will soon become an orphan. Spurred by his mother to deal with the circumstances in a noble fashion, Rogers grows up to become the man he is — a man capable of surviving 12 years in a foreign dimension with the strength to carve out a chunk of his own chest for survival.

Released from the medical unit with a clean bill of health, Rogers locates Jet Black under interrogation by Agent Fury. They travel back to Brooklyn to Rogers’ secret hideout, and the two of them discuss plans for Black’s future. Rogers’ words to Black ring a bit hollow as he talks about moving on from the past while standing in a room full of artifacts. The issue ends with a rooftop blaze as the past is burned away.

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Issue #11 is a good bridge that doesn’t go off the rails straight into a crazy-big conflict, though a few pages show what kind of threats the Captain will likely face next issue or in the story arc to come. For now, it’s the calm before the storm, and it’s enough to know that Rogers is back on duty and that he’s also a changed man.

It’s also exciting to see that Jet Black will be a prominent figure at least in the issues to come. Remender gives her a chance to declare some of her powers during the interrogation, and from the looks of it, she seems pretty powerful. She’s already proven she’s a match for Captain America in hand-to-hand combat, and knowing what’s she’s capable of paints a clearer picture of her potential. Hopefully, she won’t be relegated to becoming a disposable sidekick, and by the looks of it, that won’t be the case because Remender’s invested some emotional plot points into her character.

One aspect of her character that was a bit jarring this issue comes from the odd interrogation scene. Several things stood out that sort of defied logic. Seeing Jet Black in her princess gear — at what point did she grab the rest of her wardrobe when she was fleeing Dimension Z — with her hands tied behind her back doesn’t seem to fit the situation. Whether she’s been held prisoner, or if she was brought in for questioning and handcuffed for Fury’s sake — it just feels like it wasn’t well thought out. And when Black implies Nick Fury finds pleasure dominating women, it doesn’t jive well with everything else that’s going on tonally and in terms of character development.

The rest of the issue is solid, and John Romita Jr.’s replacement on pencils, Carlos Pacheco, mixes it up with a more realistic approach to the artwork than Romita Jr.’s stylized boxy figures. Besides the awkward interrogation scene in which Jet Black’s seductive expressions are one-note and off-key, Pacheco does a wonderful job filling panels with intricate details and backgrounds that fill the story out in a spatial regard. It’s also interesting to see the differences in the artwork when it comes to what’s current and what’s flashing back.

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And though the pencils are vastly different, it helps to see a few familiar members of the creative team — inker Klaus Janson and colorist Dean White —  stick with the title through the transition. Janson’s pen-pointish inks are sharp, and White gets to paint within Earth’s spectrum of lighting. Marvel could have gone through a complete shakeup for the creative team, but seeing Janson and White remain on the title gives the book a sense of familiarity and cohesiveness.

The first story arc for Marvel NOW!’s Captain America title used flashbacks to dig to the root of Rogers’ personality. With issue #11, it’s a fresh start. Remender has proven he’s got the character down pat, and he’s already boldly taken immense strides in making sure that Captain America is a title fans can enjoy. And now that the Captain is back in America, it looks like he’ll have some interesting conflicts ahead as he deals with an American soldier causing trouble abroad.


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Captain America #11 (2012)
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Marvel
Words: Rick Remender
Pencils: Carlos Pacheco
Inks: Klaus Janson
Colors: Dean White
Letters: Joe Caramagna

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