Review: A New Era Begins In ‘Captain America’ #0 – Sam Wilson Edition
by Scott Redmond
Two Captain Americas for the price of one as Marvel Comics kicks off a brand new era for the star-spangled heroes. A gorgeous character-driven throwback style issue propels Sam Wilson and Steve Rogers into their next chapters, side by side.
Change and Captain America are something that goes hand in hand at Marvel Comics, especially since Steve Rogers was thawed out of the ice and had his entire world turned upside down almost sixty years ago. This changing era is being kicked off with Captain America #0, and to cover this big issue the Comicon.com team is going to cover the issue twice with me taking a look at the Sam Wilson side of things and Tony Thornley following Steve Rogers.
While two figures holding the title of Captain America at the same time, namely Steve and Sam, is nothing new at Marvel it’s technically the first time that Steve and Sam willingly and happily are doing it since the last time involved a whole Cosmic Cube Hydra/Nazi version of Steve. Thanks to the events of Secret Empire, the event that saw this Hydra Cap take over the world and then be defeated by the real Steve, Sam was stripped of the Captain America title he had held for almost four years (as well as Avengers leadership) and was mostly cast off into recurring or supporting roles again as Falcon.
Sam becoming Captain America was a huge thing for so many in 2014, myself included, because the person holding that iconic shield and fighting against injustice now looked like many of us. When that was stripped away it was a painful reminder of how often the status quo works against those in marginalized groups, as things fall back into a cis heterosexual white male sort of ‘normalcy’ that has a tight hold upon this society. Hearing the news that Sam was not only going to be back as Captain America alongside Steve but being written by a Black writer in his new series was an exciting moment and I knew I had to be reviewing this series the second I knew it was going to exist.
While the plot/story of this issue is very straightforward and nothing out of the ordinary for Captain America, Arnim Zola has a rocket that will turn everyone into Zola like dinosaurs as he believes that makes the world better, in many ways that’s the beauty of it. Tochi Onyebuchi, Jackson Lanzing, and Collin Kelly take these simple heroes vs their usual villain story and use it as a piece to fully showcase who these men are and how they feel about the United States, the world, and their place within it.
Sam does not have the physical enhancements that Steve does, he’s not a super-soldier, but he has tenacity and strength of spirit and will fight the good fight for everyone till the very end. As well as a pretty awesome set of wings of course.
The moment Zola throws in his face how much America has failed various groups and harms so many and mockingly asks if that is the America that Sam is protecting and taking on the name of in his title, he definitely says “Yup, that America.” Of all people, Sam is very aware of how much this country and society has failed itself and those within it but still fights because fighting back to make it better is what we have to do, as giving up is not an option.
Often there are times when Captain America stories can begin to slide a bit too much into the realm of downplaying the faults of the country, but as Tony and I both agreed, that is not the case in this issue. It’s made very clear that the United States has a ton of flaws and a lot of stuff to fix but Sam is more than happy to take on this mantle again and do his part to change that. Cause that’s what a hero does.
Turning to Mattia de Iulis to handle the artwork of this bold new era starting book was an amazingly fantastic choice. Truly calling de Iulis’ work stunning feels like an understatement, but it’s one of the best words to describe the feeling it evokes. It’s an art style that combines an almost photographic close to reality style with the kinetic energy that is a natural part of superhero comics. This closer to reality-looking style can often feel closer to giving off the energy of the static image that it essentially is, but de Iulis pumps so much energy into it that the action scenes feel real and immersive and could burst off the page at any moment.
Color-wise there are a lot of bright colors as one would expect from such a superhero adventure, but they are done in a way that is toned down without taking away their brightness. It feels closer to the variety of colors we’d see around us, with the fantastical around the edges surrounding the things that are beyond our current realm of existence.
Joe Caramagna swings in to do a fantastic lettering job, which is what he always does. A lot of great emphasizers dropped in and the personality of the Captains can be felt in their words, and dropping in a big old red “Captain America” in all caps in the middle of their shared dialogue late in the issue is some chef kiss stuff.
Also, I love myself a really great big in-the-moment immersive moment of SFX and this issue has plenty of them. Smaller to the side SFX are good in their own way, but there is just something exciting about a big bold “Boom” or “Klang” taking up space right on the actual action it represents. Much like Sam and Steve, I’ll never tire of the sound that star-spangled shield makes.
Overall, it’s a solid narrative with some great character moments and back and forth with some good old-fashioned super-heroics. At the same time, a bit more time given to set up each of their books (there is a small bit of that at the very end) would have been great but I’m still excited for what is to come.
Captain America #0 is available now and Captain America: Symbol of Truth (Sam’s series) will be available in May from Marvel Comics.