Nazis! Why Did It Have To Be Nazis?: Reviewing ‘The United States Of Captain America’ #4
by Scott Redmond
The United States of Captain America continues to be a premise born of possibly good intentions that is missing the mark in almost every regard while providing a truly cliche jump-the-shark level Captain America storyline. There are a great number of creators trying their best, but it’s clear that despite their best efforts the overall package is not living up to the massive expectations.
Despite the claims of so many, the United States has from the very beginning been unfriendly (and far worse) to the majority of people that don’t belong to some very small particular groups. There is something that should be inspiring and gratifying about the idea of seeing a diverse group of people, providing representation for so many under-represented groups, picking up the metaphorical shield, and following in Captain America’s footsteps.
Unfortunately, the execution of this very solid idea has been thoroughly underwhelmingly lacking in the realms that it could and should be succeeding.
This is not to say that Christopher Cantwell and others involved are not trying and didn’t have understandable intentions, but good intentions don’t mean a road won’t be paved to hell.
Honestly, this series has taken the concept of a diverse wealth of individuals inspired to take up the mantle and watered it down to a point where the diverse Captains feel like mere props, while the mostly white cis heterosexual contingent of previously known Captain Americas commentate on diverse characters and their worlds like an overzealous tourist trying to school us on lands they are not from. All this along with the paint by numbers “It was the Nazis all along” typical Captain America storyline tacked on top.
Cap meta trying to defend that his stories aren’t always about Nazis (they almost always are), Steve telling John about the “Neofacists plot to murder a vast network of grassroots heroes and destroy the mantle of Captain America,” along with the reveal of the actual plan of Commander Kreiger/Superior/Speed Demon to use the hate and division of the U.S to take over were all so groan-worthy. Don’t even get me started on the whole idea of the clearly easily stolen and at times lost shield of Captain America being the key to opening a slew of top-secret projects and dangers.
This is such a sharp departure in quality and style from Cantwell’s Iron Man series and other writing that it almost feels like it could be some other writer entirely.
Oh also, bringing the walks the fine line between bigoted jerk and just mega jerk John Walker into a story like this is one thing that I could majorly do without. Not at all the character one wants to see interacting with the at last more diverse ranks of Captain Americas.
Ron Lim comes on board for pencils with Cam Smith and Scott Hanna on inks and it’s so different from the work we were seeing in the first three issues from Dale Eaglesham. While that had some gravity and realness to it, this almost feels comical in nature somehow. It feels too ‘happy’ and bright and almost like an all-ages fun adventure rather than a title where literal Nazis are tearing through the United States harming people intent on ripping everything down.
Matt Milla remains on colors and they are still meeting the standards he set for himself with the past issues, but they don’t feel the same when paired with the work of Lim, Smith, and Hanna as they did with Eaglesham’s work.
Joe Caramagna is a veteran and master of lettering and makes these pages sing with the way he fits all the captions and dialogue, giving them all their own flavors and emotion.
This issue’s backup story from Alyssa Wong, Jodi Nishijima, Milla, and Caramagna doesn’t fare much better. The story centers around the newly introduced Arielle Agbayani Captain America, who took on the mantle in order to protect her fellow students at Hargrove University. This story centers around her getting back at a man who hurt her best friend, but the story almost feels too glib and poppy when it’s a story centering around a powerful man having assaulted a woman.
Much like the recent issues of Marauders this story dances around the assault topic, showing bruises and alluding to what happened without ever coming out and saying it. There is a need for more stories to be told about such serious topics, and women should very well be telling or guiding these stories, but this felt too much like it had to play within the overall Marvel/Disney box and came off too lite to really tackle anything.
Nishijima is a really great artist and it’s great to see her getting bigger work and expanding. There is always a bit of lightness and ‘fun’ to her style and that is clear here. It works for parts of the story but the adds to a bit of the this story feeling too bright and shiny.
The United States of Captain America #4 is now on sale in print and digitally from Marvel Comics.