“Never trust the official story.” A new era in the saga of Captain America begins here with Ta-Nehisi Coates and Leinil Francis Yu!
CAPTAIN AMERICA (2018) #1 “Winter in America: Part 1”
Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Artist: Leinil Francis Yu
Inker: Gerry Alanguilan
Letters: Joe Caramanga
Cover Artist: Alex Ross; variant covers by: Adam Hughes; Joe Jusko; David Mack; Jim Steranko; Frank Miller & Edgar Delgado; Leinil Francis Yu; Paul Renaud, Joe Simon & Jack Kirby; Marko Djurdjevic; Ron Garney & Matt Milla; Mike Zeck & Richard Isanove; John Cassaday & Laura Martin
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Publisher: MARVEL COMICS
What You Should Know:
Following the events of Secret Empire, in which Captain America’s visage was turned into the face of a Hydra takeover of the United States until Steve was eventually able to return from imprisonment in the Cosmic Cube to restore the US government, Captain America finds Steve returned to a nation that no longer trusts him.
What You’ll Find Out:
Largely setup and fallout from Secret Empire in this first issue, Steve thwarts a conflict between Hydra nostalgics and cyborgs fashioned to look like Nuke alongside Bucky. Following the conflict, he is confronted Sharon Carter, formerly Agent 13 of the now-disbanded S.H.I.E.L.D. and the newly exonerated Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross in his capacity as a new Presidential appointee, charged with applying a “delicate approach” to the problem of homegrown terrorists sporting the stars and bars.
While Cap deals with discord in the United States, Russia is shown to also be combating Hydra. The mysterious Alexa unleashes Selene, an immortal mutant sorceress and psychic vampire, on the unwitting Hyrda agents, recalling Russia’s long history of resisting foreign invasion thanks to its brutal and callous winters.
What Just Happened?
Coates wastes no time in his new run on the Star-Spangled Avenger, delving deep into the psyche of Steve Rogers. We see a man torn between his distaste for war and his aptitude for combat. Steve Rogers is a Soldier, but he’s hardly what one would call a ‘good’ Soldier in the grand scheme of his various narrative arcs, spanning nearly 80 years. As Cap extolls the flag he swore allegiance to, his actions speak a different story into truth. From his reaction to Watergate through his stand against the Superhuman Registration Act, Steve Rogers has always borne a moral compass that transcends the arbitrary lines drawn by nationalism, a notion captured but also challenged here by Coates.
While the squad of angry Nuke-bots, spouting soundbites and taglines they have been fed yet don’t understand can be equated to extremists from the far or alt-right, there is a deeper conundrum at work here amidst many levels of narrative that hint at the notion that this problem of “true freedom”, as Cap frames it late in the issue, is not one experienced by some, but all. Coates consciously evokes images of “The Dream” without expressing explicitly that it’s The American Dream he is referencing, a clever move that offers the writer a large amount of latitude to lay bare our preconceived notions about what it means to be an American in the 21st century.
The deep layers of narrative and discourse in this issue are matched in fervor by the stunning art of Leinil Francis Yu. Yu deploys a combination of starkness and ambiguity in characters and settings with highly detailed renditions of the same, creating a sense of fluidity throughout the issue. And if that wasn’t enough, some of the greatest talents in the industry, from Alex Ross to John Cassaday among numerous others, came out to do myriad variant covers for this spectacular issue.
Final Thought: I wish I could keep this review open for editing for weeks. I have now read the issue four times through, and each time, I come away with new questions. The establishment of the current national discourse between the US and Russia could be a doctoral dissertation in and of itself. As it stands, though, I will leave it here and revisit next month as the picture comes clearer into frame.
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