Reeling from the loss of his adopted son, Captain America meets with Sharon Carter who tells him he’s been implanted with false memories.
Carter claims she was 30 minutes behind the Captain when he boarded that train, and there’s no way he’s been in Dimension Z for that many years.
After the Captain finds the will to stand — again — he takes the battle directly to Arnim Zola for a final showdown. Since the last issue, Princess jet Black has been going toe-to-toe with her father in her quest to save the remaining Phrox as the battleship carrying the Zola virus heads to Earth to infect all life.
The Captain steps in and tangles, literally, with Zola as they fall back down to the ground floor of Dimension Z. The diligence bullet comes into play as Steve Rogers places it into Zola and triggers it with a forceful blow from a rock. With the shot incapacitating Zola, father and daughter get a chance to bond as he says some final words and passes his life’s work to his daughter.
After reading Captain America #8, it looked as if the story arc was beginning its marathon to the end. There was an expectation of at least several more issues with an ultimate battle between Rogers and Zola.
Unfortunately, Captain America #9 speeds its way through to an unfulfilling and disappointing final battle that leaves Captain America with one less threat to worry about, though it may have implications on who his next foe could be if that person ever felt like she wanted revenge. Bringing in Sharon to the story adds another layer that begs more questions than gives answers. It could very well be true that Captain America was implanted by memories given to him by the Zola virus.
And that’s a bummer.
If that’s where Rick Remender takes the story, he’s basically taken the wind out of the story’s sails. It doesn’t negate the fact that Captain America is a persistent and willful character — but what’s perceived and what’s real differ in that there’s no cost when it comes to implanted memories. Until now, readers were led to believe there was actual loss — a toll that was taken by the years spent in Dimension Z and the relationships he’d gained. Losing Ian last issue felt visceral because of the connection the two built up over years. The fight to save the Phrox, the days of struggling for survival, and the day to day push to keep going — without all of that, the story becomes a dream that Rogers awakens from.
In a run that so far has been stellar, it’s the one issue that’s not like the others. The agonizing crawl to the end that’s so far been the modus operandi turns into a mad dash that seems counter to how Remender’s written the story so far.
John Romita Jr.’s last page showing a mourning Princess Jet Black, a a battle weary Captain America, and Sharon trying to understand what’s happening lacks punch because the story has gone off the rails. There are too many questions at this point, and it’s unclear where the story’s headed besides the inevitable rush to stop Zola’s battlestation from attacking Earth.
Will Princess Jet Black revert to her merciless state now that she’s experienced personal loss, or will she continue to protect the Phrox? Will Captain America discover the truth about Ian? Will Sharon reveal herself to be a pawn in the whole scheme?
Questions like these would be intriguing except that they come from a place of general confusion. Plot threads feel like they’re unspooling and creating a mess, and the end of the issue feels chaotic due to a lack of direction.
Romita’s artwork is also harder to follow at times, partly because of Zola’s unconventional form. It’s hard to immediately discern whether the panel is depicting Zola’s back or front, and the panel of the gunshot doesn’t have the dramatic tension of Romita’s other panels. It’s a bit underwhelming.
In terms of color, Sharon’s blonde hair is a welcome sight because it’s the most vibrant thing this issue. Every panel Sharon exists on stands out, and Dean White does an excellent job creating Dimension Z atmosphere with the mixed colors.
Klaus Janson’s inking is straight to the point, and his lines are sharp. They don’t call for too much attention, and that makes them excellent.
I expect things will feel more settled next issue or in the issues to come. Issue #9 is not the climax that readers want, but it’s possible it wasn’t intended to be the peak, and we’re only at the beginning of the ending.
Captain America #9 (2012)
Words: Rick Remender
Pencils: John Romita Jr.
Inks: Klaus Janson
Colors: Dean White
Letters: Joe Caramagna