Writers: John Ney Rieber & Chuck Austen
Artists: Trevor Hairsine (p), Danny Miki (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The book opens by confirming that the body of Inali Redpath that Captain America encountered in the last issue was a fake, as we see the real deal is in Washington D.C., and it would appear the man is on a course that is very likely to bring him into conflict with Captain America. We then see him flashback to a mission that he went on with Captain America, where Inali Redpath grew to respect Captain America's adherence to his high ideals, and for quite some time his disillusionment with America itself was placated by this newfound respect for one of its greatest heroes. We then return to the present where we find Captain America in a heated conflict with a flame-throwing lunatic who calls himself Barricade, and while this villain's explosive attacks manage to put on an impressive show, when Captain America gets in close we see the villain is about to get his head handed to him thanks to Cap's vastly superior hand-to-hand combat skills. However, the sudden arrival of a bus load of children forces Captain America to surrender for fear that Barricade would follow through on his threats to kill them all. The issue then ends with the arrival of Inali Redpath, who looks to have superpowers of his own.
It would appear that the villain of this issue is a pyromaniac with a flame-thrower, and when it becomes clear that Captain America is going to hand this guy his head, the story decides to insert a school bus full of innocent civilians onto the scene. Now the story doesn't take the time to explain why the driver decided to take his bus load of children into the middle of what looked to be a raging inferno, or why Captain America stood around doing nothing while the villain made his move toward the bus. Then again if either of these two ideas had been addressed then chances are the writers wouldn't have had their quick & easy method of placing the villain on the higher ground in this fight. There's also little questions like how are a set of manacles would take Captain America out of the fight, as I'm seen enough action movies to cue into the fact that a man with his hands bound is far from helpless. In fact the only way the villain could be sure that Captain America wouldn't put up a fight is to knock him out cold, so the whole deal with the manacles feels a bit silly. In the end I simply couldn't ignore the idea that this story bends over backward to place Captain America in a position where he has to be rescued.
Then again this issue does have some pretty interesting ideas on its plate, as we're introduced to a former ally of Captain America who also happens to be Native American, and based upon his opening thoughts it's clear this man has some serious reservations about how America has treated his people. We also see that this man is on a mysterious path that is very likely to bring him into conflict with Captain America, and it's always interesting when Captain America's love of country is directly opposed by a person who has a genuine grievance over what America has done to them. Now I hope this current arc doesn't wimp out like the previous arc by having Captain America defend his side of the argument by saying that America has grown beyond the mistakes it has made in the past, as there's nothing quite as disheartening as when a writer manages to develop an interesting moral quandary, and then they utterly fail to examine both sides of the argument. The idea that this man used to be Captain America's friend should also make things more interesting, as hopefully the man can't be so easily dismissed as an outright villain. The man's ability to generate tornadoes also makes him a pretty formidable opponent should it come to blows.
The work of Trevor Hairsine certainly does a nice job of convincing me that Joe Quesada knows how to follow up an impressive opening act, as while John Cassaday's action sequences did a better job of conveying a sense of urgency & excitement, Trevor Hairsine's work holds up as a equal on every other quarter. From his strong understanding of the human form, and how to deliver dynamic action shots, to it's delivery of the big impact moments, such as the panel where Captain America deflects a rocket with his shield, or the arrive of Inali Redpath on the final page. The art also does a pretty solid job on the facial expressions, as the villain of the issue looks like maniacal lunatic that he needs to be, and Captain America's expression of horror when it looks like the villain has killed the bus load of children is absolutely perfect. The impact shots also have a nice bone crunching feel to them as Captain America lays into the underlings of the main villain, and the art also does a nice job establishing the idea that Barricade is clearly no match for Cap when it comes to their brief physical confrontation. The cover to this issue is also a pretty striking visual, even if it really isn't all that representative of the scene we get inside.
I may be kicking myself for letting myself be sucked into the material once again, but I have to say that the last three pages of this issue really sold me on this story, with the captions that detail Captain America's inability to recognize how deprived his opponent is being a particularly effective exchange. There's also a nice little bit in the opening pages of this issue where we see a former ally of Captain America's has set a plan into motion that would seem to suggest that he's going to come into conflict with his friend, and the material does a nice job of detailing why this man would be acting against the best interests of the American government. There's also a pretty solid flashback sequence, where we see Captain America's ability to inspire others is nicely displayed. Now the villain of this issue is strictly a cookie cutter madman, and the arrival of the school bus full of hostages struck me as rather lazy writing, but overall this issue managed to sell me on its main idea, and I'm looking forward to the next chapter.
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