CAPTAIN AMERICA #2
Written by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Art by Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, Sunny Gho, Joe Caramagna
Edited by Alanna Smith, Tom Brevoort
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: August 2, 2018
In Captain America #2, Coates demonstrates how the core focus of his narrative remains rooted in dissecting the aftermath of the “Secret Empire” story when Steve Rogers, thinking to himself, says how he is “tired of Supreme Commanders and Grand Directors.” Steve is a character who now faces a bizarre sort of identity crisis which, as of issue #2, seems to be taking a more pivotal role in what sort of story Coates seems to be building. While issue #1 was anchored in establishing some of the key players and getting them together via an act of domestic terrorism via an army of cloned Nukes, Issue #2 builds on the unease Steve faces at having been used as the face of Hydra. There are some intriguing things to this idea since, like Superman, Steven is often a character whose best stories connect readers with big philosophical and moral questions. Steve’s concern over his ‘duplication’ seems to be tying in to the very essence of what he is. I am aware of plenty of Captain America stories which have tried to get inside Steve’s head, but Coates seems prepared to tackle the issue in a more direct manner than I have been used to reading. And, hey, it works. Steve’s contrasting identity crisis to a just-released Nuke army is symbolism at its most basic, but Coates sells it will with this dialogue choices and even the mannerisms of Steve himself via the artwork. I, personally, read a lot more into Steve’s ominous recollections of Kobik, the sentient Cosmic Cube who was responsible for the Supreme Commander’s origins and Steve’s duplication, than might really be intended. To pull a Pet Sematary pun, Steve came back … but he came back wrong. And, to make matters worse, Steve came back again. How much of Steve is the true Captain America and how can he deal with this crisis of identity when the whole USA is more inclined to distrust him and they are willing to ask for his help?
Outside of the fact that Steve is facing a mental crisis, there is also Ross in new position as “Presidential spokesman.” Ross makes a great foil for Steve in the role Coates gives him since he is older, more nuanced with his methods (Ross could deceive and scheme with the best of them, but he could also take the direct approach when he wanted), and he is speaking with Presidential authority. Coates seems to be working with a Cap who, at present, is going to be more subversive with his dealings where Ross is concerned, but their attitudes are at least seeming to make them direct adversaries, if not enemies, sooner rather than later.
The final pages of issue #2 are exciting if only because it seems like Coates gets to have his cake and eat it too. Bringing Steve and T’Challa together is a perfect pairing for the issues Steve is facing since, perhaps out of all the typical Marvel characters he could work with, Black Panther and he are on the same wavelength when it comes to undertaking missions for the good of a nation over the good of an individual
Yu’s art stands out for being amazing, yet there are some flaws which are starting to manifest, possibly due to the nature of the story Coates is building. Basically, Yu’s art is good while depicting characters standing still and talking, but it’s much more fluid and powerful when it is depicting action. Coates’ script allows some space for Yu’s work to shine, but it’s starting to feel like what action is present is more for generating ‘iconic’ Cap moments. Like is issue #1, we get some great framing art of Cap doing what Cap does best (bounce’n into and out of combat like a red, white and blue rubber ball), but the comic could have functioned without those sequences. I am torn to admit the comic would have been just as good without the action sequences, and that Yu’s art would have been great, but I am curious if Coates, who seems to be more invested in a cerebral story, is going to shine as much with Yu as opposed to anyone else. Regardless, Yu’s art on its own delivers and it delivers strongly since, as I mentioned earlier, mannerisms and expressions tell a lot about different characters and their emotional stakes in the story. Yu’s depictions of Carter, in the state she is presently in, are impactful for the restraint of movement where-as, obviously, Steve hardly sits still, even when he is needing to work off stress.
The Verdict 8.0/10