“Captain America” – or really in the current comics status quo – our “Captains America”.
Certainly, in today’s world, a character branding the stars and stripes with a name like that is bound to set off red flags. And why wouldn’t it? The country gets worse and worse, with rights being stripped from anyone that isn’t a cishet white christian male. It’s going backwards.
But our Captains America aren’t about maintaining the status quo – they’re rather about changing the status quo, about being a hero to the people, not the state. They’re about trying to push for what the original American Dream was (“the ideal by which equality of opportunity is available to any American, allowing the highest aspirations and goals to be achieved.”), rather than protect the American Reality. It’s something that’s reflected through a vast majority of the publication histories of Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson.
Captain America #750 portrays this, and mostly succeeds. It’s as much a celebration of our two current Captains America as it is an exploration of the symbol of Captain America. The issue dives into what that symbol means, what it represents, and who the shield is actually meant to protect. The vast majority of this issue centers around two stories – one by Tochi Onyebuchi, R.B. Silva, and Jesus Aburtov, which explores how Sam came to have his new shield in the first place, and another by Jackson Lanzing & Colin Kelly, Carmen Carnero, and Nolan Woodard that has us go to the funeral of a fallen soldier from Sentinel of Liberty, while setting up the stage for the finale. The rest are four-page short stories by an assortment of writers and artists delving into these characters, and all of them are lettered by Joe Caramagna.
“A Cup of Tea” by Onyebuchi/Silva/Aburtov/Caramanga is set before Captain America #0, the book that kicked off this era of Captain America. This goes back and forth between Sam visiting his parents’ graves and a conversation with Misty Knight, that digs into his relationship with the identity of “Captain America”. It stands on its own, and is a fantastic exploration of Sam and his identity complex with having to live up to the mantle. Even as a standalone story, I can’t recommend this enough. It’s excellent, and the art complements it beautifully.
“Nothing But A Fight” by Lanzing & Kelly/Carnero/Woodard is set after the “Cold War” arc, acting as an epilogue to that crossover. It’s the only story in this book that requires you to have previous context – something that I’m fine with, but also something I recognize that people might have gripes with. It’s the funeral of Roger Aubrey, the Destroyer, who met a heroic end in the second arc of Sentinel of Liberty – “The Invader”. Steve’s supporting cast from the first arc, everyone involved in the second arc, as well as other heroes show up to talk about Aubrey, and while they have few words to say, it’s enough to fill you in and understand the kind of person he was. Sharon gets a big speech that sets up her role moving forward, and Steve ends it with a poem that was enough to move me to tears.
While this story does do enough to be read standalone, I can’t help but think that it’d be better if this creative team’s story had something more introspective, while this one was relegated to another issue of Sentinel of Liberty before the finale. All the stories in this collection can be read without any prior context, so from that angle it’s weird to have something that is so heavy. Even so, I’m sure everyone who’s a Captain America fan has been keeping up – me included – and if you’re not, you should! It might be ending next month, but it was one of Marvel’s best ongoing comics while it ran, on par with X-Men: Red, Fantastic Four, and Moon Knight.
“Reflections” by Stephanie Williams, Rachael Stott, and Matt Milla is another exploration of Sam’s character, this time going back to his experiences of leading teams, and the struggle that came with it. It’s a good story that reflects on his years prior, but also one with a powerful message about how we all deserve to be where we want to be. A tale that shows us that Captain America is inspiring.
“The Hero” by J.M. Dematteis, Sara Pichelli, and Matthew Wilson focuses on Steve’s friendship with Arnie Roth, a gay Jewish man introduced in Dematteis’ own run on the character, who had later died in Mark Gruenwald’s Captain America. It’s a beautiful story where Steve looks back on their friendship, and really demonstrates that Captain America is accepting of anyone.
“Then and Now” by Dan Jurgens, Brett Breeding, and Alex Sinclair is told from the perspective of the Avengers’ butler Jarvis, where he looks at how Steve has adapted with the growing times. It’s fine mostly, but I can’t help but think that given the themes of the other stories here, we could have done with a story that didn’t portray Steve being this optimistic about America instead. A tale about finding hope in darker times would be far suitable here.
“The Mantle” by Cody Ziglar and Marcus Williams is a fun story where Steve and Sam practice throwing the shield while talking about their legacy and having to live up to the name “Captain America”. It’s a great conversation between the two, and the art is killer with how kinetic it is.
“One Lucky Shot” by Gail Simone and Daniel Acuña ends the book by giving us a story from the perspective of a bunch of kids who find Captain America’s shield once he’s shot into the water. It’s a cute tale where we see how people are inspired by him to do the right thing.
While I do wish we got more about the Captains America from the 5 issue United States of Captain America title, this was still a fantastic anthology-esque title that gets these characters and shows off why they’re so interesting. If you’ve ever wanted to get into this character, I recommend this issue, as well as Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty, Captain America: Symbol of Truth, and The United States of Captain America. All are absolutely fantastic, and I’m sure J. Michael Strazynski and Jesus Saiz’s new run will be too.