Captain America shows off the characteristics that make him an American hero in Captain America #3, a sprawling issue that has the Captain escaping a death sentence, mingling with his Dimension Z host-family, and becoming an inspiration to his beleaguered compatriots living under Armin Zola’s oppressive rule.
About to be killed along with his young charge, Captain America fights back and is spared. He gains a friend in Ksul, a tribesman belonging to the last remaining clan in Dimension Z. Hiding in caves away from Zola, the clan is run by its own tyrant, Zofjor, who believes quiet submission under his authority will keep the clan safe.
For the Captain, life without freedom isn’t worth living, and Captain America #3 features the superhero in situations he cannot bear for himself or for others.
Kudos to Rick Remender who continues building the legend of Captain America without making a mess of things by adding too much or making Rogers something he’s not. As Ian’s protector and now a figurehead for a revolution, Captain America displays the characteristics that have made him such an iconic figure. Rogers has been around for decades, and comic fans familiar with the character know what he’s about. Fans new to the series need only see the name on the title of the book to get an idea of what to expect.
Still, Remender’s use of vignettes to reveal historic moments in Rogers’ childhood develop more than just the character — they drive the plot home on an emotional level. It’s narration through illustration, and it’s a refreshing way to examine a popular and well-known figure. It also speaks to the writing talent that’s invested in the character — the flashbacks don’t come across as preachy or contrived, which could happen very easily if they become too sentimental or formulaic. Remender’s newest flashback for Rogers deals with deeper and larger social issues concerning authority and the choices some make to side with bullies.
Fans relate to the Captain because he’s the underdog fighting for the little guy. It was an interesting development to see Captain America get shipped out of his country and into another dimension in the first issue, but the decision to change up the location makes so much sense. In the company of an oppressed species, Rogers finds relevance because he can express himself and be the hero he’s written to be. As the tribe lives meagerly eeking out an existence for fear of being crushed, Rogers can rise, show his strength, and inspire.
John Romita Jr.’s artwork strikes a chord this issue with panels depicting Zola’s horrible experiments, Nancy’s indifferent sideways look, and a major plot-twist that sets up the next issue. His distinctive pencils provide panels with otherworldy figures and fawna, and it’s clear that Rogers is anywhere but home.
Several of the other titles Marvel NOW!’s relaunch lost a bit of momentum with their third issue, but Captain America continues getting better. The creative team has obvious plans for the title, and the direction they’re going in feels rooted in depth and ambitious in scope. With momentum for the story building through visions into Zola’s mind, tension as Captain America’s health falls, and characters growing and driving plot, Captain America does its namesake justice.
Captain America #3 (2012)
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Writer: Rick Remender
Pencils: John Romita Jr.
Inks: Klaus Janson
Colors: Dean White and Lee Loughridge
Letters: Joe Caramagna