Current Reviews


Captain America #21

Posted: Sunday, December 7, 2003
By: Bob Moser

Writer: Robert Morales
Artists: Chris Bachalo (p), Tim Townsend (i)

Publisher: Marvel Knights

Captain America is back to work with the government and helps breakup a sex slave operation in Florida. Apparently the slave traders didnít appreciate Capís interference in their operation and attempt to assassinate him in his civilian identity of Steve Rogers while he is en route to a meeting with Homeland Security.

Note: Captain Americaís civilian identity was recently revealed, but you Marvel history buffs know that information has been public knowledge since Tales of Suspense #95 from way back in 1967.

Story wise this issue is not only a new story arc, but a reassembling of the broken pieces that have become Captain America. In less than a decade Captain America has been canceled and restarted three times for various reasons, one of which is that the series had become bogged down by its own mediocrity.

After a brief detour into an alternate-universe story, Captain America is back and battling enemies of the state. Given that Robert Morales was the author of Truth: Red, White & Black, expect Captain America to get a lot more political. How the reader responds to this trend most likely will depend upon their personal politics, but a comic about Captain America canít be all things to all people, especially in a country politically split 50/50. An iconic character such as Captain America is a patriotic thermometer for the mood of the nation, and as such is difficult for many writers to depict without pissing off someone. I expect Morales to have the same dilemma, and hope that he embraces the challenge and relishes the opportunity to shake things up.

Moralesí script in this issue balances both the necessary building of a new story arc and series direction, along with action scenes at the first and third acts. I especially liked it when Steve Rogers takes up a pistol and uses it like he knows what heís doing. Moralesí intent is obviously to depict Captain America as a soldier and defender of the home front, but not a mindlessly patriotic tool of the system which often loses touch with the people it was created to serve.

I was slightly disappointed with the art package of this issue. Some may refer to Chris Bachaloís pencils as kinetic; I would just call it cluttered. I looked back at his previous work on Generation X and instantly figured out the problem, too much background and foreground noise getting in the way of the action scenes. Adding to the confusion is the fact that Bachalo also did the colors on this issue. Much of it was just too dark. I understand that he wanted to create an air of darkened moodiness in the first chapter of the story, but I couldnít see my hand before my face, and thatís not good. I donít hate Bachaloís work, I just find his action scenes hard to follow and if I wanted to be challenged by literature I would be reading Tolstoy, not comics. On a positive note, kudos to the inker for having to put up with all the extra work Bachalo is throwing his way. I also want to give kudos to Dave Johnson for a great cover. It doesnít have much to do with the contents of the book, but it is a great symbol of what Captain America is about and what America as a nation should be about.

Final Word:
Hopefully this is the beginning of a new relevance in Captain America, and if so I plan on being there for future issues. Jump onboard now if you want to see where this train is going.

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