Marvel NOW!’s relaunch of Captain America starts off with a flashback of Steve Rogers’ childhood. A son of struggling Irish immigrants, Steve sees firsthand how destructive violence can be, how it affects children, and what kind of strength can be found in simply rising to the task. It’s a great introduction with emotional impact that provides the basis for some of the conflicts and decisions Rogers faces in Captain America #1.
Hurtling back to earth aboard an aircraft carrying bioweapons, Captain America manages to foil the Green Skull’s plan to turn people into plants. It’s just another day on the job for Rogers, and it’s not even the most difficult position he’ll find himself in on his 90th birthday — Sharon Carter’s asked him to marry her, and he hasn’t been able to give her an answer. Seeing Captain America avoid the topic of marriage puts the spotlight where he’s vulnerable. Looking back at the intro, it also shows how traumatic domestic violence can be to a child.
The prospect of marriage also makes Rogers question the viability of being a soldier. It took extremes measures to grant the frail Rogers the ability to serve his country, and he’s faced with either living a double life or giving one up for the other. It’s a personal and daunting struggle for a man who, a few pages before, manages to save the life of a villain and crash land a plane safely into the water.
An investigation into an old subway tunnel leads Rogers to board a train that takes him on an unexpected ride to Dimension Z where Arnim Zola hopes to drain Rogers of his blood in hopes of synthesizing the Super Soldier serum. Zola is torturous and sadistic, and artist John Romita Jrs.’ depictions of the process aren’t for the squirmish.
The art is strong, especially in Zola’s lab as Cap fights his way out of a tough situation, and Rick Remender’s writing is tight and punchy. The dialogue between characters flows smoothly without sounding theatrical, and the banter between Rogers and Carter as they spar over his age is engaging.
Taking Captain America out of America and transporting him into a different dimension opens up a new world of possibilities, and Remender’s plotting and sequencing will likely have Captain America fighting a difficult battle to save a family or just a few of the members in it. Those who aren’t familiar with Arnim Zola might feel a little underwhelmed because there’s a lack of villain cred. Remender sees potential in Zola, and readers may see the emerging of a supervillain into the mainstream.
Captain America #1 (2012)
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Words: Rick Remender
Pencils: John Romita Jr.
Inks: Klaus Janson
Colors: Dean White
Letters: Joe Carmagna
Next Issue: Captain America #2 Review