Captain America #20
The hunt to recover the lost piece of Sharon's soul from Selene is on as Steve, the Daughters of Liberty, Bucky and Sam investigate a farm full of "men being men" in "All Die Young: Part 1".
After a somewhat haphazard and meandering arc, Coates and company seem to be returning to the sort of story-telling that made this series shine in the earlier arcs. Coates once again embeds a current narrative (less so much given the current national discourse of COVID-19 dominating the national consciousness) into the story as he explores notions of masculinity and the perceived divergance from previous generations. The men working at Selene’s farm frequently parrot sound bites of this narrative (“We’ve all gone soft”, “video games raised our kids”) while being instructed to recruit more souls to work the farm by Selene. With Selene’s involvement with the Power Elite, Coates manages to craft a clever twist into the Russian bot narrative, illustrating that the source of the soundbites has a tendency to be even more nefarious than even the ideological constructs they spread.
Late in the issue you see a curious tension between the infiltrating Sam and Steve as Sam notes his concerns regarding “a guy like me working someone’s farm for free”. Steve’s immediate response is to rationalize the room and board as meaning it isn’t free before realizing Sam’s quiet reference to slavery. Where one may expect a rapid apology from Steve, instead he continues to rationalize that these men chose to be here. It is an extremely uncomfortable moment between these old friends that will leave the astute reader with deep concerns regarding just how much Steve’s life experiences in older eras of sensibilities will impact his actions in the coming issues leading up to to Captain America #25. Even as Steve eventually notes that the longing for something old is a lie, there is just enough doubt there to keep the story interesting as we move forward.
Bob Quinn takes over full art duties with this issue and does solid work bringing the characters to life on the page. His scenic farm panels are far and away the best work of the issue. This issue was dominantly setup so the action was limited to a brief sequence with Peggy and Misty throwing down with Crossbones in Madipoor (where they meet up with Black Widow, who ultimately leads them to a shockingly alive Thunderbolt Ross). In limited space, the action sequences work but fall somewhat flat although that is more likely the result of the story, not Quinn. As things continue to ramp up, it will be interesting to see what reconciliation Quinn reaches between action and calm.
Captain America #20 (Coats, Quinn) sees previous tropes of national discourse and where Steve Rogers fits into the 21st century return as the series course corrects from the previous arc.
Captain America #20: Working with Your Hands
Writing - 9/10
Storyline - 8.5/10
Art - 8/10
Color - 8/10
Cover Art - 9/10
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