Writer: Christopher Priest
Artists: Bart Sears (p), Rob Hunter (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
When the Falcon looks to have violated federal law by breaking a prisoner out of Guantanaamo Bay in Cuba, we see Captain America is made aware of the situation. However, while it becomes apparent that Sam may have had very good reason to break this person out of Guantanaamo Bay, we see this doesn't stop Captain America from making plans to head down after Sam. However, we see down in Cuba the situation takes an unexpected turn as Captain America arrives to help Sam by gunning down an entire room full of thugs.
Christopher Priest is one of the few writers working today that seems perfectly willing to deliver stories where all the information isn't clearly spelled out, and often times the picture he's painting isn't all that clear right up until we hit that final chapter. In other words it's nice to depend on his writing to deliver a story that offers up pretzel like logic, and moments where it feels like you missed the delivery of important information, as if nothing else I can be rewarded by the idea that most times I have no idea where he plans on taking the story. This in turn allows him to deliver some truly surprising moments like the one where Captain America picks up a machine gun, and mows down a room full of thugs, or the final page reveal that turns everything on its head. The central plot is also worth a mention as it's nice to see a writer offer up a situation where two heroes would end up on opposing sides, and the potential for a confrontation between these heroes exists without the involvement of mind-control. Christopher Priest has managed to tap into a real-world situation that has divided the American population, as frankly the mere mention of Guantanaamo Bay is enough to spark intense debate, as one can either look on it as a necessary evil, or a gross violation of human rights. Now I'm not sure where Christopher Priest stands on the issue, as on one hand he offers up a clear cut situation where a person's rights have been violated, but I've read enough Christopher Priest written stories to recognize the simple fact that nothing is ever clear-cut, and the Falcon's downright ruthless behavior would seem to suggest there's more to this situation than meets the eye.
I have to say I'm delighted to see Bart Sears work on this book bears a closer resemblance to his work on "Justice League Europe", rather than his truly dreadful work on "Spider-Woman". Now his delivery of the action elements of this issue are a bit confusing as the art jumps around a fair bit so there are times when ones not really sure who Captain America is punching. Still, I will say that the level of detail on the page is truly impressive, and the impact shots look fantastic, as one has to believe that thug's jaw has been shattered when Captain America slams the rifle butt into it. The last page of this issue also manages to deftly present the big idea that will carry us into the next issue. Now I will say that I found his characters to be a bit muscle bound to the point where they almost look comical, but than again there is a nice sense of power to the scenes where these characters are attacking the thugs, that perhaps it's for the best that these characters, look like they could deliver these painful attacks. A pretty impressive cover image to this issue as well, as both characters look nicely intimidating.
I'll probably be kicking myself when the final issue of this arc arrives, and Christopher Priest reveals there is a grand design to this entire story, but I do have to say there are moments when it does feel like the book is being deliberately confusing, and given this is the first issue, that is likely to make up this book's fan-base, I do have to question the logic of crafting a story where readers would walk away from the story feeling frustrated by the twisting plot that this issue offers up. Now I'd like to think there are enough Christopher Priest fans that would be willing to stick with the story in spite of the fact that this opening issue leaves readers with a plot whose sole aim seem to be to confuse the issue, but I can also see why readers would back away from this title, as frankly there are moments where I found myself growing a bit annoyed by this book's inability to deliver information that felt like one could count on. I mean one could argue that the Falcon is out of character and while I fully expect his behavior will be explained I can understand why some readers would be crying foul. Having a second version of one of the book's main characters running around also seems to be largely designed to muddy the waters of an already hard to follow story, and while part of me is delighted to see Christopher Priest hasn't adopted a more mainstream writing style, I do find myself wondering if perhaps he should make some concessions as it does seem like his books are always struggling to find and keep the readers, and part of me believes his labyrinth style plots are what keeps some readers away.
Eat Hot Lead Evil-Doers:
It's a bit of a chore to wrap your head around some elements of this issue, but than again I was left with the sense that there is suppose to be a general sense of confusion about this story, and I will say that while I wasn't sure what to make of the last page reveal, I will say I was impressed by how effectively this surprise managed to address the howling masses that were sure to erupt in the aftermath of Captain America's use of a machine gun. The issue also manages to offer up a wonderful little moment where the Falcon takes some time out to talk over the issue with the gathered villains, and while this scene is largely an information dump, Christopher Priest delivers it in such a convincing manner that I was utterly riveted by Sam's dispassionate summation of the situation. The issue also manages to convince me that Captain America is in good hands, as the scenes that center around Captain America's reaction to the Falcon's actions do a nice job of selling the character's strong sense of right and wrong, and if nothing else I'm curious to see what his reaction will be to the last page revelation. There's also some fairly intense action in this opening issue, with the big twist in the final pages being a wonderful bit of misdirection.
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