By Josh Davison
[*Mild plot spoilers below for Captain America Annual #1!]
The year is 1944. Captain America and Bucky charge into the woods outside Stutthof, Germany. They find a woman on the run, and our heroes follow her to a cabin where she and two other refugees are hiding from German forces. Cap and Bucky agree to help them, but they must wait for nightfall. German snipers surround the cabin, so a long day of waiting followed by an intense escape attempt through the forest lie before Cap, Bucky, and their three new allies.
Captain America Annual #1 seeks to return to a truly classic Cap adventure, with Steve and Bucky fighting the Nazis just like the old days. In many ways it succeeds; this is a fun and almost upbeat action comic.
The Annual differs in many poignant ways though, and it does so to its own advantage. It’s confident enough to slow down in middle of the comic and fully establish its own scenario while introducing the reader to two of the German escapees. It injects a humanitarian angle with Steve and Bucky brushing up against the types of people specifically targeted by the Nazi regime in Germany. Importantly, it also shows Steve and Bucky sympathetic to those people.
Bucky is more the eager and chatty youth than the brooding and violent Nazi-hunter that has been retconned into in the post-Brubaker Cap comics. I honestly like both depictions, so, as a Bucky Barnes fan, I’m happy either way.
The Nazis themselves are over-the-top and screaming villains. It’s a good way to present your Nazi bad guys.
Chris Sprouse handles the front half of the comic with Ron Lim taking the back half. They are supported by inkers Karl Story, Walden Wong, and Scott Hanna and colorists Jesus Aburtov, Erick Arciniega, and Israel Silva. The visuals look good throughout, with Sprouse offering a clean and sleek look with Lim giving a slightly more classic aesthetic. The colors are bright and appealing throughout, and the inking is neat and strengthens the visuals.
Captain America Annual #1 is a fun and smartly-written trip back into the World War II days of the Sentinel of Liberty and his young ally. It reminds you why you love Cap and what heroism in dark times can look like. This is a good read and I recommend checking it out.
Captain America Annual #1 comes courtesy of writer Tini Howard, artists Chris Sprouse and Ron Lim, inkers Karl Story, Walden Wong, and Scott Hanna, colorists Jesus Aburtov, Erick Arciniega, and Israel Silva, letterer Joe Caramagna of VC, cover artists Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, and Romulo Fajardo Jr., variant cover artist Kaare Andrews, graphic designer Carlos Lao, editor Alanna Smith, and executive editor Tom Brevoort. Captain America is from creators Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Captain America Annual #1 is available today for $4.99