Captain America #22 Review

Reviewer: Chris Delloiacono
Story Title: Homeland: Part 2

Written by: Robert Morales
Penciled by: Chris Bachalo
Inked by: Tim Townsend
Colored by: Chris Bachalo
Lettered by: Virtual Calligraphy’s Randy Gentile
Editor, Assisting: Jennifer Lee
Editor: Axel Alonso
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Another chance to impress

Captain America has been one of my favorite Marvel characters since I was a kid. Part of the reason lies with Cap’s origins. I’ve had a great interest in World War II since I was a boy, probably because my grandfather was a Gunnery Sergeant who fought to liberate France, Belgium and Germany. So, Cap’s WWII origin gave me something to latch onto. That and the fact that I always viewed Cap as the perfect amalgamation of the good points of both Superman and Batman. He was really the total package of superheroing.

That is until recently.

Captain America was always a relatively angst-free read; unfortunately, ever since becoming a Marvel Knights book, Captain America has taken off his mask and jumped far to squarely into the real world. I’m actually a recent returnee to these pages, as I dropped the title after the seventh issue of this umpteenth relaunch. John Ney Rieber (who’s writing I really enjoyed on Books of Magic) totally failed to capture any of the good points of this character. Turning him into a bad version of Gi Joe. Couple that with John Cassady’s inability to get the book out with any regularity, and I completely lost interest.

Making the same mistakes, over, and over again…

The buzz around 411’s comic corral was palpable last month when issue #21 of Captain America shipped. I wasn’t planning on jumping back on board, but I just couldn’t help but pick the issue up following the kind words from the Dark Overlord (Co-EIC, Daron Kappauff) and others on our message boards.

What I liked most last month, was that the new direction brought a very human look at Captain America. Rebecca Quan, a potential new love interest, was introduced in way that gave me hope for the future. This is just the fresh approach that the book needs. A totally new direction of love for Cap; there was again something for him to do outside of the red, white, and blue. Also some interesting action was present, which featured Captain America using guns. This bothered some readers, but as Cap is a soldier it really didn’t bother me. It actually seemed to fit the situation quite well. The only problem I had with the issue was Captain America’s latest assignment. Which is expanded upon this issue.

I’m just not a big fan of half-and-half

Much like last week’s Exiles #40, this was really half of a great comic. That’s something that really annoys me. Writer Robert Morales continues to build the burgeoning romance between Steve (Cap) and Rebecca. The issue starts out with a fun scene as the two go on a date at the opening of an art expo. There’s a nice scene as the couple walk together following the event. That’s when I start to get a bit irked.

It seems that the overall direction of this book hasn’t changed one iota from when John Ney Rieber wrote here. Captain America’s current mission takes him to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he’s to sit on a military tribunal against a suspected terrorist. Cap arrives and we’re introduced to a string of soldiers, and get varying thoughts on the world’s current problems with terrorism and the fallout of September 11th, 2001.

Although it’s a direction I don’t like, Morales does manage to throw in some nice moments. Captain America is appalled by the use by Colonel Boyle, the commanding officer of the base, of the hero as a means of arousing fear in the “detainees.” There’s even a very funny bit with Cap exerting his disdain for Boyle’s disrespect. Of course, Cap’s actions do seem a bit out of character, and while funny are a bit annoying as well.

The artwork by Chris Bachalo is quite good. I do find the facial expression in the book lacking in any real variety. The other small problem is that the characters tend to vary in shape from panel to panel and are a bit out of proportion at times. As a whole, I really enjoyed his take on Captain America. I especially like the way he draws Cap in full superhero regalia. I also love the muted color palette that Mr. Bachalo brings to the work.

All told this was a very good story, but Marvel’s continuous need to bring the “real” world into their fictionalized universe turns me off. In a universe occupied by ridiculous villains like Red Skull, Doctor Doom, Kang, and various others, I find it distasteful for the mention of Osama bin Laden and various other real life situation like the previously mentioned 9/11. I find Marvel’s attempts at this realistic approach to their “world” makes their books even more ludicrous than DC’s highly fictionalized world.