The battle for Dimension Z begins as Armin Zola’s army descends upon the last of the Phroxians. Captain America and his young charge, Ian, after finding a possible exit to Earth, rush back to fight alongside their comrades.
From the get-go, things aren’t looking great for Steve Rogers. It almost feels like an understatement to say he goes through some difficult times in issue #5 as the virus that manifested itself in Rogers’ chest goes through its last stage, threatening to take over mind as well as body. Tasked with killing the Captain if the virus gets out of control, Ian must deal with the possibility of losing his adopted father, his countrymen, and his own life. The young boy has grown up tremendously within the span of a few issues — his training from his adopted father and the attitude he displays in stepping up to fight for an alien race’s survival shows what he’s capable of and also what he’s made of.
With the forces of Zola relentlessly and viciously attacking the Phroxians, Princess Jet goes on a personal vendetta to hunt down Captain America sparking a showdown that could have ended with a corpse without Ian’s interference. Jet’s blind rage succumbs when she comes face to face with her long lost brother, and the discovery enrages Zola, pushing him into a physical battle with the Captain.
So far, it’s the best issue yet. Rick Remender has crafted a story that’s percolated over several issues with themes relating to resiliency in the face of extreme hardship, the search for home, and the strong bonds of relationships. Issue #5 is a culmination filled with action, urgency, and gut-wrenching panels . The pacing is quick without being sparse, and the emotional gravity is felt without getting bogged down by narration. There’s a quirky little bit of camp when the Princess talks up her tachyon fu style, but for the most part, Remender’s scripting is precise and poetic.
John Romita Jr.’s pencils are some of his best so far on the series as well, though are some glaring flaws with awkward limbs and some confusing action bits. Romita Jr.’s panels are grandiose and filled with action, and the battle that takes place between Jet Black and Captain America with the rain falling down sells the drama with punch and bite. There’s a Frank Milleresque vibe that sits on the noirish side, and Romita Jr.’s storyboards could be used for a stylish and action-packed animation. The colors by Dean White and Lee Loughridge work — they just do — and the otherworldly vibe from the unnatural color schemes make Captain America seem like it could be one of the most original titles being released each month.
It’s very possible that the next issue could even go above and beyond what’s happening here, which doesn’t discount how well this book is written, drawn, inked, colored, and lettered. The creative team is stretching further and further with a reach that’s going for fever pitch. What Captain America does so well as a title is bringing the legend face forward in a very relevant and relateable way. Readers familiar with the character don’t need to be told who he is — and the series has avoided becoming stagnant through movement and intelligent storytelling.
Captain America #5 (2012)
Writer: Rick Remender
Pencils: John Romita Jr.
Inks: Tom Palmer and Scott Hanna
Colors: Dean White and Lee Loughridge
Letters: Joe Caramagna