Leftover Cold War Paranoia In Captain America #4

by Josh Davison

[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]

Captain America lands at an abandoned military base in Alberia where inside waits Agent 13, aka Sharon Carter. Steve believes she has been betrayed by General Ross. Inside, a blonde Russian woman chastises a restrained Sharon, and the woman elaborates on her plans as a true supervillain does. Cap beats his away through the base until he is confronted by mercenary of similar caliber and skill.

Captain America #4 cover by Alex Ross
Captain America #4 cover by Alex Ross

Captain America #4 is another engaging and high-energy issue of the book on the part of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Leinil Francis Yu, but there are a few glaring details that bother me while reading.

I’m not asking complete realism from a comic book—especially when it’s taking place in a fictional Eastern European country called “Alberia”—but this book is was clearly conceived in the shadow of newfound Russian paranoia about the 2016 election and Vladimir Putin’s open authoritarianism. If you’re going to do that, you should probably get it right. I’m not an expert on the modern political climate of Russia, but even I can tell you that the people in power aren’t hungry for a new Russian Revolution to bring back the Communist Party. They’re corporate oligarchs, and many of them made their money in oil. Those aren’t the kind of people hungry for their wealth to be seized and redistributed.

It more directly references Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America, and the principle villain of much of that run, Aleksander Lukin, was a rich oil magnate. He wasn’t trying to bring back Soviet-style communism.

There is a bit of inner monologuing from Cap himself about how “patriots” and the government used to be more trustworthy—I feel like Steve Rogers should know better than that. However, this is more forgivable, because it’s character interpretation.

It’s worth mentioning again that this is a good comic despite these cited flaws, which you could see as a misunderstanding the world stage to some degree or another.

Captain America #4 art by Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and Sunny Gho
Captain America #4 art by Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and Sunny Gho

Captain America #4 is very kinetic, and Leinil Francis Yu, alongside inker Gerry Alanguilan and color artist Sunny Gho keep the book flowing and coherent from panel to panel. It’s a great-looking and action-packed book that continues to (mostly) do Steve Rogers justice while telling a compelling narrative. This one is worthy of a recommendation, and you should check it out.

Captain America #4 comes to us from writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, artist Leinil Francis Yu, inker Gerry Alanguilan, color artist Sunny Gho, letterer VC’s Joe Caramagna, cover artist Alex Ross, and variant cover artists Jack Kirby with John Romita and Dean White, John Cassaday with Laura Martin, and Maxx Lim.

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