Captain America #31 Review

Reviewer: Tim Stevens
Story Title: Super Patriot Part 3

Written by: Robert Kirkman
Pencilled by: Scot Eaton
Inked by: Drew Geraci
Colored by: Rob Schwager
Lettered by: Visual Calligraphy’s Randy Gentile
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics

The important question this issue raises is: when, exactly, does Cap sleep? I mean, the poor guy is being beaten around the Marvel Universe like a Star Spangled Piñata 24/7 as of late. In the past 3 issues of this title alone, he has faced off against Hydra, freed a kidnapped Senator and, in doing so, unknowingly aided a burgeoning coup within SHIELD, fought Batroc the Leaper at a ball game, began sort of, kind of seeing former girlfriend Diamondback (and then slept with her?! How very un-American values of him!). As it turns out, her reappearance in Steve’s life was orchestrated by his greatest enemy, the Red Skull and was planning to poison him. Before she succeeded in going all Arsenic and Old Lace on the Living Legend, however, the Serpent Society showed up, busted up the place real nice like, and took Cap and Diamond away.

Whew…looks like Kirkman is single-handedly looking to bury the whole “decompressed storytelling.” And, in a single arc, besides.

Beyond the walls of this title, Cap has also been macking on Scarlet Witch…or not, gotten a car dropped on him by a very angry She-Hulk, been chasing around some woman named Queen, lecturing Nick Fury on government conspiracies (wha?), and I don’t know, maybe painting a great work of art. I can buy this level of activity from Wolverine because, well, that appears to be his mutant power and the X-books all take place at non-specific moments (read: the events in Uncanny might be a month or 6 removed from the events of Astonishing, etc). But this is all happening to Cap at once! I mean… damn. I’m not sure this is what people had in mind when they asked for a more centralized Marvel Universe.

Alright summary of Cap’s recent activities aside, how was the book?

Well, Captain America under Kirkman has, so far, been fun if largely inconsequential. If I was to liken it to food, I’d call it cotton candy. But, you know, less pink. For me, no one has seemed to deliver a Cap that was a real character without being real boring since Mark Waid. Sadly, Kirkman does not break that streak here. Cap is cool, but he feel…lightweight. His jokes, especially one involving a rental video, fall especially flat. He is basically two dimensional in his heroism. Nothing is a threat to this Cap and I find myself checking out a bit because of that. If I never feel like Cap is threatened, how can he ever impress me?

Towards the conclusion of this issue, there is one particular event that alters the “all fun and only fun, all the time” mode of the book and adds a shocking layer of darkness. I won’t spoil it for you as it does come as a genuine surprise.

However, I will say that moments before the “event” Diamondback delivers a speech that made me thankful I cannot actually hear comics talk. It was so maddeningly… I don’t know. The crux of it is her realizing what kind of man Cap is and that she loves him. But she dated for, like, how long? She didn’t already know this? There was never as perspective offered on her Cap vendetta in the first place, so it is even more difficult to trace the evolution of Diamond’s feelings because the initial “eliminate Cap” endeavor was never given any sort of explanation. At least, as a devious ex-girlfriend, there was some intrigue to her. With this about face, I find myself shrugging with disinterest.

That all sounds unnecessarily harsh and I apologize for that. As I said, this storyline is fun, but I feel like so much is being glossed over to get to the fun. Kirkman has some cool ideas here, (the coup, the ex-girlfriend, a mention of PALADIN!!!! {the coolest purple be-sporting bad ass this side of Prince}, some old villains returning, and so on), but they are only introduced. Each one comes to a close (with one exception) so anti-climatically that it negates what got me excited about them in the first place. It makes for an exceptionally frustrating reading experience as I feel like Kirkman was about two layers too shallow and if had dug just a bit deeper this storyline would have been something to be reckoned with. As it stands now, instead, I find myself keeping time until Brubaker returns. I am entertained, but unimpressed.

The Final Word: Shocking twist or not, Kirkman has yet to bring the true goods to this storyline. It is diverting and interesting in doses, but so lightweight it feels like what it has turned out to be, a fill-in arc.

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