CAPTAIN AMERICA #703 / Writer: Mark Waid / Artists: Leonardo Romero with Alan Davis & Mark Farmer / Color Artists: Jordie Bellaire with Irma Kniivila / Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna / Cover Art: Michael Cho / Graphic Designer: Carlos Lao / Publisher: Marvel / June 6, 2018
You know when you are having a bad day and you think, “Nah, this has got to be it. It cannot get worse!” and then, invariably, it gets much worse? Well, Jack Rogers knows exactly how you feel. Jack is still on the run from the government. Apparently breaking into the White House to find evidence on your son’s mystery illness (only to learn that the government is in cahoots with the Kree empire to create sleeper agents using the super soldier serum) is a problem. Jack’s day only gets worse with the addition of Red Skull. True, Jack accidentally released Red Skull from his prison deep beneath New Washington. Not ideal, I know. Mistakes were made. Of course, Red Skull is primed to wreak havoc as only he can. There’s no two ways about it. Jack Rogers is in a bind and time’s running out. In it’s penultimate issue, Captain America #703 proves that even hundreds of years in the future, thankfully, Rogers is still the man with the plan.
Once again, knowing when and how to deploy the lessons found in history is central to the plot. Cap’s always knows as “The Man with the Plan” and Mark Waid cleverly ties this to how Jack Rogers deals with challenges and setbacks. Where Cap would punch his way out, Jack’s got to think, to strategize using his unique skills and talents. How does a historian deal with a corrupt government? How does a historian deal with Red Skull? What does it mean when that historian is the descendant of one of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes? What of the hero remains and what needs to be learned through experience? It’s been a treat watching this story unfold, to see how Cap’s descendant, but not Cap himself, rises to meet the challenge.
What’s intriguing about this run of Captain America is our hero, Captain America/Steve Rogers is confined to flashbacks. The bulk of the run focuses on his descendants. How intriguing! As a parent myself, I wonder what my legacy will be for my children and their children and so on. In Jack’s world, Captain America exists only as an idealized legend, a great hero to all generations. His legacy impacts everyone on Earth, through the super soldier serum. Unlike Cap, Jack Rogers never asked for any of this. The original Steve Rogers signed up to serve. He fought Red Skull, HYDRA, Nazis, and all sort of villain near or far. Jack Rogers, on the other hand, never signed up to be anyone’s hero. He just wants to keep his son, Steven, safe; to heal his body where the serum cannot. For me, this is the heart of this issue, probably the entire series. What do you do when there’s no one else to step up on your behalf? What do you do when it comes down to becoming the hero you need to be?
I think we find an answer in history, in the flashbacks. The sole flashback this week reminds the reader that endurance in the face of pressure from an enemy is vital to survival. Cap’s enduring torture, and like all good action heroes, he outlasts his tormentors, ultimately getting information he needs not only to survive, but to thwart their nefarious plan. Earlier issues tied the flashbacks, through the time-lenses, to character development or plot development in Jack Rogers’ world. This flashback seems to exist outside the arc of the main story. Jack Rogers does not see this flashback, only the reader. It seems the flashback’s purpose is to reinforce the idea that to become a hero, you have to endure more than you could ever imagine. I’m curious to see how the flashbacks play a role in the final issue later this month.
Romero’s art brought all the emotional beats to life in this issue. My favorite panels dealt with Jack’s relationship with his wife and son, flashbacks of their own, actually. This issue delivers the emotional connections the reader needs to truly understand the lengths Jack is willing to go to save what’s left of his family. We feel Jack’s determination, his desperation, through the color choices used in Jack’s own flashbacks to his wife and son, their highs and lows. Everything is black and white, or shades of grey. Very clear. Very straightforward. Dark black backgrounds push the focus to the action at hand contrast with stark white of characters uniforms. There are only hints of an orange-red, in young Steve’s jacket or Jack’s neck tie, in these flashbacks, keeping the emotional weight centered on Jack’s motivations. The deluge of red hues comes later, once the reader realizes the impact of Jack’s choices in dealing with Red Skull. Clever artists, always keeping me on my toes.
This arc is a must read for even casual fans of Captain America. It’s a timely read, as it seems the real world is in need of heroes even more than any time in history. The catch is, just like in this arc, the heroes we love and adore are not going to be there. We have to find the endurance, the fighting spirit, the willingness to sacrifice, the willingness to stand up for ourselves. This arc of Captain America reminds us that we need to be our own heroes.
Verdict: 5 out 5 stars
I’m a curious, creative, comic(al) woman. I am unapologetically Team Cap, but not HydraCap because there is a line in the moral sands of the universe and that whole thing is on the other side of it. I teach high school students all about the joys of mythology through comic books, graphic novels, and films. I wandered into the comic book world in 2015 and is a proud member of the #DoYouEvenComicBook gang.