Open Mike Night: All-New Captain America #1/ Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #1 Marvel Comics Spoilers, Review and Debate

Columns, Reviews, Top Story

All-New Captain America #1

Written by: Rick Remender
Penciled by: Stuart Immonen
Inked by: Wade Von Grawbadger

Colored by: Marte Gracia with Eduardo Navarro
Lettered by: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover by: Immonen, Von Grawbadger, and Gracia

Published by: Marvel
Cover Price: $3.99

Weaver: After a number of false starts, I intend to be back reviewing comics with my partner in crime, Mike Maillaro.  This week, we’re taking a look at the All-New Captain America in two different comics: his own, and Captain America and the Mighty Avengers.  I have to say that if these two comics were handed to me in a vacuum, I’d have expected them to be years, maybe decades apart, and yet…both are brand new.

The idea of Sam Wilson becoming Captain America has been a bit of a pop culture touchstone lately.  Along with the concept of the female Thor, the more right wing among us saw Falcon Cap as pandering to political correctness, a “race lift” if you will.  I look at it in a very different way.  If I was a writer, or even if I were Captain America himself, Sam Wilson would be my first and only choice to be a legacy hero.  Who else are you going to get?  Scrambled eggs for brains Bucky?  Wannabe John Walker?  Nah, it’s Sam, all the way.  And the beginning of All-New Captain America shows us exactly why.

Maillaro: I was immediately impressed by how well they set up the character.  Hearing about his family, especially his preacher dad really put Sam Wilson in some perspective.  I haven’t read all that much with Falcon over the years.  Actually, I probably have more exposure to him from movies (Winter Soldier) and cartoons (Avengers Assemble and Superhero Squad) than actual comic reading.  But like you said, I immediately felt “Yes, this guy was the perfect choice to replace Captain America.”

I also really liked the new Nomad.  I had never even heard of the character before I read the Infinite comic featuring All-New Captain America.   I kept referring to him as Damien Wayne, because I thought he actually was an unknown bastard child, not someone Cap adopted and raised as his own in an alternate reality.

Weaver: I have a bit more of a history with Sam Wilson.  I read Captain America sporadically in the 70’s when it was Captain America and the Falcon, and there are a few other appearances that really struck a chord with me.  One was an Avengers issue of the late 70’s/early 80’s in which Falcon is told by HP Gyrich that he was selected for the team specifically because he was black.  Falcon was incredibly offended by the tokenism, but yet felt strongly about the team, so it was a great moment of conflict.  It wasn’t resolved by the end of the issue, but I know he was gone from active duty soon after.  The other was an appearance in Christopher Priest’s run on Black Panther, where it discussed what Sam got up to after dropping out of superheroism.  He was in politics on some level, and when Luke Cage in Avengers started the whole “Let’s be proactive and clean stuff up” idea, it sounded a lot like Sam Wilson’s political career.  More on that later.

Maillaro: So, it’s clear that we both come to this book from different angles, but they did a great job reaching out to both old and new fans of the character.  They even threw a bone to people who are normally Captain America readers anyway (all five of them).  I really loved that last panel reveal with all the villains standing there led by Zemo.

Weaver: It bothered me that I didn’t immediately know all of them, but I knew enough, and obviously Zemo, to get that this was Bad Stuff.  Actually, the art all along was really good, and are you ready for a coloring segue?  Coloring segue!  Several of the pieces of art in this issue, especially during the flashback and the last page, had the majority of the shot in black and white and one figure in color.  This really pops to me.  I couldn’t stand a full issue of it, but it was used to great affect here.

Maillaro: I recognize Crossbones, Viper, a few of the Serpent Society, I think that’s Taskmaster in the back…

Weaver: Pretty sure that’s Baron Blood next to Viper…but that’s a huge callback, same as Batroc.

Maillaro: Yeah, I thought the art and style of this book really enhanced the story very well.  I also really liked the new look for Batroc…though it has been forever since I had seen Batroc in a comic…so that might be how he’s looked for a while.

Weaver: Batroc was good here, and you know what, I’m glad that he was making the same jokes about Americans that he would make to Steve or anyone else who bothered to come across him.  It almost read like the bad guys were totally on board with Sam being Captain America now.  The only one who complained about it was Nomad in disguise.

Going back to that…I did like the new Nomad.  I don’t know if I like the whole Arnim Zola’s alternate dimension locked offspring because seriously, how is Arnim Zola going to go about getting offspring?  Don’t answer that.

Maillaro: Yeah, I had the exact same question when I first saw the character…and I also decided it was probably better not to try and get more information.  Zola had two kids oddly enough in the pocket reality.  A girl.

OH!  Speaking of Pimpin’ Rogers, I was pretty amused by Cap out on a fishing date, but still trying to help Sam…without being overly pushy about it.  I thought that worked real well and created a great dynamic here.  I love comics with strong supporting casts, and it seems like Sam will have a lot of that here.  Remender is real good at creating character moments…although he can sometimes wander a little into too much banter.  He didn’t do that here though.

Weaver: Yeah, I like a solid supporting cast too, I mean, Spider-Man being the ur example of that.  It seems like Remender has a good grasp of these characters because I was immediately able to relate them to the characters as they’ve existed since the 70’s, and honestly, a guy like Falcon who falls off the radar a lot…it’s good to see him being essentially him here.  A statement that fills me with pain for the discussion of the other issue.

I feel like this issue gave me everything I wanted out of a comic but didn’t know how to ask for.  I’d be comfortable giving it a pair of 5’s.

Maillaro: I have a hard time disputing those scores.  There was plenty to like about this one, for old and new reader alike.  A pair of 5’s from me too.  All-New Captain America is definitely a book to watch…and with a high-profile writer like Remender it should stick around for a while.

Though I can’t help but ask the question, “When will Rogers be back to take this title over?”

Weaver:  Yeah, I can’t see this lasting more than six months or so, which is a shame…I like characters and concepts that grow and evolve.  I feel like there’s a natural parallel to Superior Spidey here.

Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #1

Written by: Al Ewing
Art by: Luke Ross
Colored by: Rachelle Rosenberg
Lettered by: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover by: Luke Ross

Published by: Marvel
Cover Price: $3.99

Maillaro: Reading this issue, I couldn’t help but wonder….did Al Ewing have any idea this was supposed to be a first issue?  I really can’t help but think this was Mighty Avengers #15, and Marvel decided to just remarket it.  They didn’t identify it as a Axis crossover…they didn’t bother showing most of the team.   It wasn’t a bad comic…but it might have been the worst first issue I’ve ever read.  I almost felt bad asking you to review it afterwards since you hadn’t read the series at all…

Weaver: Holy crap, that was a confusing mess.  So they discuss what’s going on a bit at the “Previously in” page at the beginning, but I was not ready for that at all.  As a first issue, it was horrible.  I don’t even know half the team, their only appearance being as floating heads in a group shot.  We have to take for granted that we know this is where the Avengers are and this is what they do, and tossing Spider-Man into the story complete with “Let’s explain Superior Spider-Man” subplot was throwing even more into the mixer.  However, I managed to get on board it relatively quickly.  I don’t like that Luke and Sam are the two seemingly most affected here, because making them into Angry Black Men is a pretty big disservice to decades of characterization.  Granted, at least a decade or two of Luke’s was as an Angry Black Man.

Maillaro: Luke and Sam were the only ones on Genosha, that’s why they were the only ones affected.  BUT, it seemed like Plunderer was affected to, so no idea how that works.

What made this real amusing to me was that the main person to blame for this messed up version of Sam and Luke…was the guy who wrote All-New Captain America.  And yet, he didn’t ruin his first issue by tying into Axis.  Bastard! He did give him an awesome line in Axis though….

Weaver:  Let’s be honest: if someone told you that you had the option of tying your new title into the overarching plot (even if you created it) or not doing that, you would probably go with not.  Also, I think that the first issue of All-New Captain America needed that “Let’s get everyone up to speed on Sam Wilson” bit at the beginning, and if they went full on “I hate bleeding hearts who try to protect human rights”, then the people who were ready to be angered about Sam as Cap would feel justified.  Really, this event is a goofy place to launch a new title with a new take on a character.  We needed to know what Sam was like without inversion before we could accept the inversion.  That’s why I’m okay with mustache twirling Tony Stark…in fact, I think that appearance was pretty necessary in order to show us it’s not just Sam who’s become a massive dick.  Luke Cage even read more as moody than really flipped askew.

Maillaro: I did like that Luke Cage seemed to be conspiring with Quantrell in the end.  He’s become a total “Bastard for Hire.”

But again, this was only a big deal to me since I have read the earlier issues of Mighty Avengers. Otherwise, the scene doesn’t have a lot of impact.

Weaver: Other than “I’m an evil businessman”, I have no idea who Quantrell is at all.  I felt like if I knew, then maybe some of the plot would have more impact.  Is he involved in Axis?  Because he sure seems to know what’s going on.

I felt kind of bad for the Plunderer here.  He’s such a random weak dude that it ended up feeling like Scourge of the Underworld, that he just appeared to job and possibly get aced because who cares.  Funny post script to that: The Melter was one of the higher profile guys killed by the Scourge, and despite everyone at the time saying they were happy to unload him, he kept getting off panel resurrected because no one really knows much about the Melter other than…he melts stuff.  They seemed to have sloppy bookkeeping on that death.

Maillaro: Speaking of the floating heads to introduce the team, I thought the art was fine on this issue (nothing mind blowing, but nothing all that bad either), until that last page.  Even the characters you should have recognized (Monica, She-Hulk etc) looked NOTHING like they normally do.

And I was particularly annoyed that we didn’t get Blue Marvel in this issue.  He’s pretty much the whole reason I started buying this book in the first place.  The Original Sin crossover introduced me to him, and he’s a great character.

Weaver:  Can’t say as I’m aware of him at all.  I’d agree on the art…generally good, but you got to wonder what happened with the floating head page.  Maybe Luke Ross hates having to draw floating heads.  I dunno.

Maillaro: Basically the whole idea is that in the 60’s, there was this real amazing black superhero…but JFK asked him to go into hiding because he felt it would threaten the civil rights movement (people had no idea he was black until he accidentally got unmasked).  There was a great mini-series telling this story a few years ago.

He’s sort of remained in the shadows for a while, but finally has decided to rejoin the world.  I thought it was a cool story, and made a great touch for Mighty Avengers, which has basically been the “minority superhero team.”  Written by a white Brit… Sorry to say it that way.  I actually like Al Ewing. He writes a great Doctor Who comic, and is a really nice guy when I met him at NYCC.  But I still think it would have been nice to get a black writer on the book.

Weaver:  Christopher Priest would have been a good choice.  His Black Panther was fantastic…one of those great books that could never sell well.

Anyway, this issue had a lot of upside…but it doesn’t deliver what I want it to deliver in a first issue.  I don’t see hardly anybody.  Some of the people I do see I only get two word descriptions of, and I have no idea what they mean in the overall story.  Weighed down by Spider-dissing.  I’m going to give it a 2 on story and a conditional 3 on art.  The art wandered up to a 4 for much of it, but there were just some sloppy panels, like the floating head one, that made me dock it.

Maillaro: I have been digging Axis, and I thought as issue 15, this would have been fine.  As a result, I will give the story a little higher score.  A 4.  I agree about the art thought.  It was mostly just passable, and that last panel really dragged it down a few points for me.

Maillaro: Before we wrap up, I just want to welcome you back, bro.  I’ve missed doing this.  Next time, I think we will finally get around to doing Squadron Supreme, if that works for you?

Weaver: Yeah, it’s good to be back, I really missed this too.  Squadron Supreme it is!

Final Scores

Maillaro – Story Weaver – Story Maillaro – Art Weaver – Art
All-New Captain America #1 5 5 5 5
Captain America and the Mighty Avengers # 1 4 2 3 3


Mike Maillaro is a lifelong Jersey Boy and geek. Mike has been a comic fan for about 30 years from when his mom used to buy him Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Adventures at our local newsstand. Thanks, Mom!! Mike's goal is to bring more positivity to the discussion of comics and pop culture.