(minor spoilers for Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #1 below)
“The shield isn’t what you think. It’s not your symbol. It’s theirs.”
Spinning out of the stand-alone Captain America #0 is the second of two Cap-centric ongoing series to be released this year. Previously, we looked at Symbol of Truth #1, which focused on Sam Wilson and was a solid beginning for his stories. This time around, we have Sentinel of Liberty #1, which once again puts original Cap Steve Rogers back in action. Guided by the team of Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly, as well as Carmen Carnero and Nolan Woodard, this is a solid foundation building on what promises to be the next great saga for Marvel’s star-spangled superhero.
Whereas Symbol of Truth is more about a Captain America whose mission takes a more outward approach to protecting freedom, Sentinel of Liberty #1 plays more like an introspective look at what makes the man behind the shield tick, so to speak.
Indeed, as the story begins, we have a glimpse of Steve attempting to adjust to being a regular person, away from being Cap 24/7. He chooses to do this by living in an apartment in Manhattan, taking daily morning jogs with shield in tow (as a way to remind onlookers that “this shield belongs to all of us”, according to Steve) and making new friends in the process.
“It’s time for me to drop the holographic bunkers and security clearances… to remember what it means to be an everyday American,” he narrates.
This change in status quo allows for the introduction of a few side characters who will hopefully become a part of Sentinel of Liberty’s recurring cast moving forward. We only get a few panels with these supporting characters, but their presence is welcomed and allows for Steve’s life in Manhattan to remain relatively quiet and peaceful.
Of course, those peaceful times can’t last forever as a threat wearing a familiar face from the 1940s manifests itself, threatening the Fourth of July celebrations in New York, and it’s up to Captain America to save the day once more. The ensuing battle between Cap and this new/old enemy leads to a very interesting aftermath and a final-page cliffhanger that looks to raise even more questions once you get to it – especially as it relates to the much-hyped shield-related mystery.
The Lanzing and Kelly writing tandem effectively nails down Steve Rogers’ voice through narration that appears throughout the issue. These caption boxes reveal a man who finds himself at a crossroads after years of tirelessly defending the innocent from countless threats.
In a beautiful opening two-page spread depicting a collage of Cap, his friends, and his enemies, we get several captions talking about how Cap’s heroics have taught him lessons of friendship and love, as well as the dangers of devastation and hate. These captions help set up what will form the basis of Steve’s personal journey throughout Sentinel of Liberty and how that will inform how he sees this new world he wants to be a part of.
Every time I step into the field… I get to armor myself in meaning. Every day, I get to wield the dream… and make it real,” Steve says as he suits up for his mission. Of the many sequences I read in this first issue, this might’ve been my favorite of them all, as it shows just how much care and understanding that Lanzing and Kelly have for the concept of Captain America as a character.
As for the art, Carnero’s pencils are wonderfully complimented by some strong color work by Woodard, and this team give us some nicely-drawn sequences throughout, like the aforementioned two-page spread that’s laid out excellently and the issue’s climactic battle between Cap and Bucky Barnes versus their deadly foe.
As an opening issue meant to set up an overarching mystery, Sentinel of Liberty succeeds in introducing just enough of it without giving away everything completely. For those looking for a Captain America story on the level of landmark runs by creators such as Jack Kirby, Mark Gruenwald and Ed Brubaker, this first issue for Sentinel of Liberty shows us that we could be in for another all-time Cap classic.