Captain America wakes up in an unknown place and time. He quickly discovers that this place has been ravaged and the people who thawed him are a small group of survivors trying to survive in what little remains of the world run by a despotic regime made up of the very rich. This is America, 2025.
As Rich Johnston said in his article, Mark Waid and Chris Samnee have returned Captain America to its more political-minded roots. This comic takes aim at the rich and powerful. Its villains are those who would drown out the less-fortunate under debt and expense to keep them in line.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this too feels like a classic Captain America tale in a lot of ways. While older issues wouldn’t necessarily take aim at capitalism in this way, the semi-plausible extremes by which these changes take place do feel like something Steve Rogers would have discovered in an alternate universe back in the days of Mark Gruenwald.
The big conceit is that forces from within the U.S. nuking the nation itself. It’s difficult to conceive of anyone actually doing that, no matter how much they hate the poor. What follows, the price of necessities being hiked and starving out the poorer, is something that literally happens all the time.
The new leader being named “King Baby” seemed a little silly to me at first. Then, I thought about the name. It paints the picture of a selfish, petulant, and immature authority with a loose grip on reality and prone to throwing temper tantrums.
He probably screams “fake news” a lot.
The leader of this group of survivors is a woman named Liang. She serves as Steve’s guide in this dystopia. She’s also a competent and careful leader who has to keep Cap from getting himself and others killed. She’s also ripped as hell. She’s pretty great.
Cap also tries to write down the Bill of Rights for the survivors before he realizes that it’s only 2025. He knows it by heart. It’s amazing. This is one of the most Captain America things I’ve ever seen.
The speed with which Waid and Samnee establish the setting is quite impressive too. Usually the orientation of a dystopia is allowed to overtake the entire comic. However, this issue weaves the explanation into the narrative and you only get one real exposition dump, and it’s short.
Chris Samnee’s continues to be well-tailored to the title and its lead. Despite the fairly cartoon-oriented style, he plays with shading well, giving the visuals a lot ore depth than the would otherwise have. Matthew Wilsons’ color art remains bright and popping. To compensate for the dystopian setting, he throws in a lot of reds to contrast the blue of Cap and give the world a hostile vibe.
Captain America #698 is another excellent entry in the saga of Steve Rogers. The high-concept setting of this issue is balanced by a focus on characters, and the politics of it all are refreshing and timely. Add to this Samnee and Wilson’s artwork, and you have a fantastic book. This one comes recommended. Check it out.
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