(Marvel Comics, 2013)
Review by Shawn Warner
WRITTEN BY: Rick Remender
BREAKDOWNS BY: John Romita Jr.
FINISHES BY: Klaus Janson with Scott Hanna & Tom Palmer
COLOR ARTWORK BY: Dean White
We are breathlessly approaching the conclusion of Rick Remender and John Romita Jr’s epic opening story arc, with one issue remaining the complex multi-layered plot shows no signs of slowing. Cap has only scant minutes to mourn the shocking betrayal and death of his adopted son Ian at the hands of Sharon Carter, before he and Sharon are forced to make good their escape from Dimension Z. She is faced with the daunting task of explaining to a completely perplexed Cap the facts surrounding where he is and just exactly how long he has been there, needless to say their perceptions are not congruent. Sharon tells him that the city in which all of these chaotic events have taken place is now a floating battle station and to make their exodus more urgent she has rigged the station to blow by planting Pym-condensed C-4 across the base. This is not entirely welcome news to Cap who is now intent on saving Jet Black, Arnim Zola’s daughter who has recently come to see her father as the deranged madman he is.
Jet Black is busy herself at this time locked in heated battle with her feared and hated father. She is risking her own life to free a group of Phrox, the indigenous people of dimension Z who have been treated as fodder by Zola and his dreaded regime. Jet is over powered by her mechanical father but she remains resolute in her convictions, willing to die if need be to drive her point home. However before matters are permitted to escalate to that degree Captain America literally flies into the scene delivering a crushing drop kick with both feet, which is beyond beautifully rendered by John Romita Jr in an absolutely stunning two page spread. He stands triumphant over a battered Arnim Zola, glaring into the half destroyed screen that serves as the brutal dictator’s face. Cap confronts Zola about killing Ian but is only infuriated further by his cold response prompting him to re-visit his rage upon the debilitated tyrant. However Zola is far from finished his reign of terror. He readily admits his physical defeat at the hands of the enraged Avenger but smugly adds that it is he, Arnim Zola, who has outwitted the superior fighter, Captain America. He solemnly confides to Cap that The Zola Consciousness will infect all of humanity and this time mankind will not have Captain America to lead a resistance. At that second the portal opens and Cap tumbles from the battle station out into the blue skies of home but in reality Zola’s hands are tightening around his throat choking the life from him. Zola implores Cap to look into his eyes as he dies but the ever-industrious Captain America reaches for a large rock and smashes Zola in the head hard enough to cause him to release his deadly grip. Jet and Sharon return in time to witness the final seconds of the conflict the ending of which I shall restrain myself from revealing here, suffice to say you will not want to miss the next issue.
Rick Remender has crafted an emotional and gritty epic in his inaugural story arc taking Cap to places he has most certainly never been before. Remender takes a man out of his own time out of the time he has come to call his own, effectively making Steve Rogers a man twice removed from time. The implications and potentialities are limitless and Remender is on a short list of scribes who could navigate such terrain. His penchant for placing these characters in gut-wrenchingly poignant situations allowing us to suffer the ramifications with them has become the defining mark of his Captain America run thus far. Whether the conflict is physical or more cerebral Remender has not once allowed Cap to escape unscathed, victorious or not Steve Rogers wears the scars of Dimension Z like battle field commendations. He is not the same man, not the same Avenger that started this adventure and he can never be again. Captain America is changed, forever. It’s so hard to believe that these things have happened in just nine issues. This has been a complex multi-faceted plot that contains countless introspective gems that have impacted Cap’s psyche for better or for worse but certainly for the foreseeable future.
A beautiful example of this is the heart-breaking flashback to Cap painting. In the light of Ian’s death this moment is so much more touching. Remender’s romantic contemplation combined with Romita’s emotive facial expressions result in a truly tender exchange between father and son. Romita’s work throughout this arc (and his entire career) has been some of the very best the industry has to offer. His style is so unique that it is instantly recognizable, standing out in a veritable sea of excellent artists. He captures the emotional tone of a scene better than just about anyone. The Jack Kirby influence is so obvious on this book that it becomes homage to his genius. Romita nails the essence of Kirby even more than his visual style. A consummate storyteller Romita’s page design and layouts are flawless. His expressionistic style works so well on this story where Cap is battered and torn through the majority of it. Over all this is another feather in the cap of an artistic genius, Romita’s work is a joy to look at; impeccable sequencing, beautifully rendered anatomy and an emotional depth to his work that is second to none.
I really love this book and I have since the first issue. Remender and Romita Jr are two names that I trust to bring their best to the table every issue and they have not had a misstep on this series yet. I cannot wait for the conclusion of this epic opus, for anticipation generating alone I would have to give this book a well-deserved perfect 5. If you haven’t followed this one from the beginning please pick up the trades, the first of which is available now. You really won’t be disappointed. Well I’ve ranted on sufficiently so, until next time when I return from Dimension Z, see you at the comic book store my friends.
Follow Shawn Warner on Twitter: @shawnwarner629