You can go home again. Steve Rogers is starting a new period in his life, but to do that he’s going back to the beginning.
Having neglected the civilian side of him for a long time, Cap wants to get back in touch with where he came from, remind himself what his mission is all about. Soon he’s getting to know the neighbours and making new friends.
Steve isn’t putting superheroics behind him, with nights involving radio chats with old – very old – friends.
Between them, the Forties heroes (Roger is named as the Destroyer, but Pam and John are mysteries to me) decipher the code. There’s going to be an attack on New York the following day, July 4 – Captain America’s birthday…
It’s a long time since I’ve tried an issue of Captain America. I dropped off during the Ed Brubaker/Steve Epting run everybody loved. I just wasn’t interested in reading about a returned Bucky with a metal arm and a past as a Russia hitman. You may as well make Robin a gun-toting masked nutjob. I came back for a relaunch in 2012 and enjoyed it for awhile but was soon bored by Cap being trapped in another dimension. Soon after that Cap became a world-conquering fascist. Or something. No thank you.
Anyway, Twitter pal Mark spoke highly of this issue, telling me that it involved Steve taking up a civilian life once more. Given my favourite Captain America run was the Roger Stern/John Byrne/Mark Gruenwald/Mike Zeck period, when Steve was living in Brooklyn among a well-delineated group of friends and neighbours, this sounded worth a try.
I was sold as soon as pages two and three.
An iconic image of the Sentinel of Liberty, telling us what makes him tick, surrounded by moments from his past. Talk about a shot to the heart. By the time we meet Steve’s new friends, and see him take his morning jog, I was looking for the subscription details. Writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly give us a thoughtful Cap, but not a pompous one; there are no long speeches. And yet the spirit of the America Dream – Freedom and Friendship – is here.
The action sequence towards the end is pretty good, setting up a couple of mysteries… basically, I was utterly baffled by the last couple of pages. Cap is joined here by his oldest friend, confidante and fighting partner, Bucky. Apparently he’s no longer the Winter Soldier, but he jolly well acts like him, with sneering face and guns blazing. I know current Marvel lore has it that Bucky was always like that, a mini-assassin, but even if I buy it, that doesn’t make much sense outside of a war.
Happily, Cap not only discourages Bucky from using lethal force, he deflects it with his shield. The shield is pretty important to this issue, in fact it looks like it’s going to be the spine of the opening storyline.
The terrific visuals are the work of illustrator Carmen Carnero and colourist Nolan Woodard. Carnero manages to make the everyday life of Steve every bit as compelling as Cap and Bucky fighting a villain with ties to their earliest days. The warmth of the neighbourhood scenes, the nostalgic glow of the flashbacks, the intensity of the July 4 fireworks… I love it all. Carnero also does a fine job of setting out the first page, a flashback which Lanzing and Kelly have written as dialogue free. Woodard’s fiery colours are the icing on the cake.
Opening page apart, Joe Caramagna has quite the wordy script to deal with here – definitely not a bad thing – and he does well, placing the word balloons and dialogue boxes smartly on panel in such a way that the art can still breathe.
Alejandro Sanchez colours Carnero’s cover, which emphasises the shield that looks set to be at the centre of this first storyline. And we even get a glimpse of the issue’s bad guy.
When he’s written properly, Steve Rogers is one of my favourite Marvel characters. And I loved him here. Congratulations to the whole Captain America crew on a great debut.
3 thoughts on “Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #1 review”
Will you stop making me get books that I skiped over?
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Damn you. I’m in for at least another issue. This does make me think of Stern and Waid. (Not Gruenwald. His start was good but he was too beholden to A Plan) We’ll see if I stick around or give up like with Cantwell’s Iron Man.
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