With the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the Star Spangled Avenger has once again in the spotlight. Since I haven’t seen the movie yet (but I have heard good things from our own Unusual Suspects in their Highly Suspect Review, which you should check out if you haven’t already!) I thought I would let you fine folk in on what is happening with Cap and maybe entice a few more of you to give his most recent book run a shot.
Following Ed Brubaker’s legendary run (which the new movie is heavily based on) was a tall order. Brubaker was on the book for seven years and his gritty espionage-based stories were so ingrained in everyone that most people thought that was the only way to write Cap. However, Marvel was promising exciting change with even its most mainstream books as part of its Marvel NOW initiative. While many Steve Rogers fans would have been quite happy if Marvel had slapped someone in there to ape Brubaker, the House of Ideas was committed to shaking things up and handed the book over to Rick Remender.
Remender is known mostly for his dark and crazy over-the-top sci-fi fueled stories that still somehow manage to work. Examples included his Uncanny X-Force run and his work as lead writer for the 2011 video game Bulletstorm (which our good friends over at Rage Select are playing through). Remender was seen as an odd but exciting choice for what was a spy-themed title for nearly a decade. Almost immediately, he made some drastic changes to the trajectory of Captain America’s adventures. Remender’s first arc dropped Cap into an alternate dimension thick with monsters and ruled by Arnim Zola. In addition to keeping himself alive in this fantastical hellscape, Steve also had to protect and raise a child. I know, it’s completely insane.
And it worked.
It worked because despite all the crazy events and creatures, Remender never lost sight of who Steve was. It is that commitment to the emotional core of the character that allowed him to go so far off the beaten trail and still achieve success. It was a statement that to the world that Cap was still interesting and relevant no matter what sort of story you drop him into, orthodox or not.
Steve eventually made it back, but the time he spent in that alternate dimension and what it cost him to get home have left him a very deeply scarred man. Even more so than before, he is a man out of time. Since then, Remender has had Cap face off against Nuke and Dr. Mindbubble (a scientist who injected the Super Soldier Serum mixed with LSD into his body, giving him crazy powers) who are all pieces of a greater conspiracy. Exciting stuff!
So is the book perfect? No. Sometimes it does get a little lost in trying to be weird and the book stumbled around a bit post-Zola world before it settled into a groove, but every time I crack open a new issue, I know I’m in for something interesting and that is what keeps me coming back. For those of you who saw The Winter Soldier and want some more Captain America in your life, the current run of comics is definitely worth your time.