Captain America #704 / Writer: Mark Waid / Artists: Leonardo Romero / Color Artist: Jordie Bellaire / Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna / Cover Art: Michael Cho / Graphic Designer: Carlos Lao / Publisher: Marvel / June 20, 2018
Mark Waid and Leonardo Romero’s futuristic dystopian tale reaches its satisfying conclusion this week in Captain America #704. Jack Rogers’ risky gambit, playing the Kree and Red Skull off each other, is a bold move but will he survive long enough to save his son?
I still think the idea of a Captain America book without Cap as the main character is unique, although I wouldn’t want it to happen often. Set far into the future, with the descendants of Captain America as the protagonists, it begs the obvious questions about legacy. Does Jack Rogers carry the same traits of honor, courage, and sacrifice as his famed ancestor? What Waid and Romero’s handles that age-old question just fine but I liked how they applied that same question to the entire populace. With nearly everyone inoculated with a version of the super serum from the original Cap’s blood, how would they react when faced with injustice? Will they stand and fight? The answer is cleverly, if too quickly, revealed in Captain America #704.
This final issue stands out in it’s treatment of Jack Rogers and his internal conflict. Cutting deals with Red Skull? No self-respecting Rogers would ever do that! As Jack faces each external threat, he crumbles more internally until he hits a real breaking point. Jack truly believes he is the villain, in his own eyes, far from the honorable memory of his most revered ancestor, Captain America. What’s funny, to me, is that Jack risking everything and sacrificing himself is classic Cap behavior. In a world where nearly everyone has an idealized version of Cap in their minds, it’s easy to feel you could never truly be as good, brave, or honorable. The deeper question is, do you have to be only those things to save your own world?
Romero and Bellaire’s art is as bold as the colors on Cap’s shield. Purposefully, it seems. So much of the issue is portrayed in combinations of red, white, and blue, implying the continued influence or presence of Captain America. In a story where the truth was obscured to have the action play out in such contrast of red/white or blue/white brings to mind a clear and obvious understanding of what’s being fought for: freedom. The people fighting know, finally, what’s been done to them and how to fight back. The long lines of alternating colors imply a strength of resolve, of purpose and commitment. Nameless, the vast majority of people in this story, are nameless and to see them stand up and act just like Captain America would is aspirational. To take bold strokes, clearly on the side of freedom for all, is classic Cap and a welcome message for those of us living in a time where that doesn’t seem an obvious American value.
I’ve very much enjoyed my trip to the future in this story arc. I would have enjoyed i even more if the story had had another 4-5 issues to really flesh out the world more. It’s a solid plot arc from start to finished but I really would have enjoyed more time spent developing young Steve Rogers and his world. I would have loved to see the Timelenses fall into the wrong hands. So yes, I’m challenged by the speediness with which this story wrapped. I know Coates launches his much-anticipated version of Cap in July, so I understand this was always going to be a short run. That said, Waid and crew bring a really engaging standalone arc to life. If you have not yet started this series, grab the trade and enjoy for yourself.
Verdict: 4.5 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.