Written by Nick Spencer, Joss Whedon, Tim Sale, Greg Rucka
Art by Daniel Acuña, Angel Unzueta, Matt Yackey, Joe Caramagna, John Cassaday, Laura Martin, Tim Sale, Dave Stewart, Mike Perkins, Andy Troy, Frank D’Armata
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: March 30, 2016

Multiple Captains America fill the oversized anniversary celebration Captain America: Sam Wilson #7. The issue ties into Standoff and also includes a trio of short stories, all of which star Steve Rogers as the shield-slinging Captain America.

“Sam Wilson” may as well not be present in the title of this issue, as the issue focuses on the legacy of Captain America. Despite having some stalwart replacements, comic book fans the world over associate “Captain America” with “Steve Rogers,” which is where writer Nick Spencer spends the majority of this issue: on Rogers’ legacy and his importance to the legend of Captain America.

Certainly, this point will be interpreted from various points of view, and most of those will have valid, impenetrable arguments around them, but the fact of the matter is Marvel deemed it necessary to restore Steve Rogers to the role. Spencer has made the point clear there will be multiple Captain Americas for at least the foreseeable future, and this issue showcases the legacy through Rogers’ point of view.

So Spencer leads the issue off with Sam and Bucky, setting them on the path to help their shared mentor.

The opening scene, while a nice display for Sam and Bucky, is kind of a mess, with a non-linear story and points of view that shift with the wind. It reads like a rushed idea forced to be a narrative, but at least Angel Unzueta is on-hand to provide strong drawings and solid storytelling. Matt Yackey colors the story brightly, using gradient shades along the way for contour and depth. When Captain America: Sam Wilson #7 shifts over to Steve Rogers, Daniel Acuña takes over the visuals, with is watercolor-influenced style. Acuña fills his portion of the issue with magnificent, poster-worthy imagery, both of Steve Rogers as Cap and of nearly all of the other characters touched by the legend.

As mentioned, this issue also adds another chapter to Standoff, as Baron Zemo and crew twirl their figurative mustaches and spout their monologues. Villains co-opted by Kobik continue to be revealed, and Spencer throws in a couple surprises along the way. Not-so-surprising, given his role in the upcoming feature film, Crossbones chews up a fair amount of scenery, mortally threatening Rogers and casting a huge shadow throughout much of the forty-page lead story.

Nine pages from Joss Whedon and John Cassaday take a look back at World War II-era propaganda, and Cap’s role in it. Cassaday draws a painstaking rendition of the chainmail armor, and the story itself is a nice setting for Cassaday to give readers a visual spectacle. The tale reads quickly, but the art from Cassaday, as always, invites readers back to study and absorb. Small doses like this are nice compliments to a larger tale, and make a strong case for a star-studded Captain America or Avengers anthology filled with continuity-lite stories that just let creators play in the sandbox a bit.

Which is exactly what Time Sale does in the next backup adventure. Sale delivers a mostly silent eight-page story that puts Steve Rogers on a recovery mission. Dave Stewart’s colors are the brightest collection of hues in this issue, and they give Sale’s story a timeless feel. The story itself is a little lighter than I anticipated, but it does afford Sale and Stewart a chance to share their appreciation of Captain America.

The final chapter in Captain America: Sam Wilson #7 is another eight-pager that sends Rogers to the ballet. Not as a star, but as a spectator. Greg Rucka writes the tale for Mike Perkins, who draws a realistic take. A surprise (but logical) guest star makes an appearance, and Rucka invites readers to consider art beyond whatever their perception of “art” may be. As the father of a dancer, I’ll admit I could relate to Steve’s hesitations throughout. As Rucka nudges, though, art takes many forms and sometimes we need to expand our appreciation. That said, never did I expect to see ballet in a Captain America comic, but if it were going to happen, I would have put money down that Rucka would make it so.

In an era where comics balance safe and recognizable with groundbreaking and diverse, Marvel’s choice to bring back Steve Rogers makes a bit of sense. I’m glad they haven’t completely closed the door on Sam (or even Bucky for that matter). I’m all for Captain America having a chance to be other people, so long as the story supports it. I’ve enjoyed Sam Wilson’s run with the shield, but I just felt too much of Sam Wilson was surrendered to make him Captain America. Yes, there were some good developmental bits from Rick Remender, and even from Spencer, but Spencer telegraphed the return of Steve Rogers once Kobik was introduced. But it seems like Sam’s growth was limited by the position. Now maybe we’ll see what Falcon can do as, well, Falcon. Sam Wilson deserves a chance to shine as a character, not as a stand-in, but as his own man. Spencer tried to give Wilson a chance to shine in his adventures, but the writer appears to have more to say with Rogers. At the very least, Rogers’ spectral presence will be able to depart from Wilson’s adventures, and, hopefully, Sam Wilson can amaze readers, as we all want him to.

Taken at face value, Captain America: Sam Wilson #7 is a solid read, worth the price of admission and integral to Standoff. It’s a great celebration of Steve Rogers, a decent memorial to the legacy of Captain America, but a lacking example of a Sam Wilson comic. It’s not a bad comic in any regard; it just falls short of delivering on Sam Wilson and his contribution to the legacy, which at this point should be undeniable.

The Verdict: 8.0/10


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