Captain America #15
Writer -Ta-Nehisi Coates; Artist – Jason Masters; Colors – Matt Milla; Letterer – VC’s Joe Caramagna; Cover – Alex Ross; Graphic Designer – Carlos Lao; Editor in Chief – C.B. Cebulski; Editor – Tom Brevoort; Assistant Editor – Shannon Andrew Ballesteros; Associate Editor – Alanna Smith
After last issue’s run-in with the Watchdogs, AIM, and Sin, Captain America, Sharon Carter, and her all women team of superheroines, The Daughters of Liberty, take a slight detour from clearing Cap’s name and stopping the trafficking of human persons to Madripoor to fight for a smaller scale cause in Captain America #15. After unknown actors kill a police officer in New York City, Steve Rogers gets involved with seeking justice for the fallen officer because, at least in this issue, Wilson Fisk’s New York is not overtly concerned with the fate of one officer, especially an honest one.
Ta-Nehisi Coates has been writing this truly compelling story of Steve Rogers trying to regain his good name after the events of Secret Empire in which Captain America, due to the influence of the Cosmic Cube, became the head of Hydra and led a semi-successful conquest of the US. This issue is also on the tail of Cap being framed for the murder of Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, so suffice to say it has been a rough year for Steve. The story has been compelling so far, with Cap escaping from prison, teaming up with The Daughters of Liberty, and playing a role in Sharon Carter’s ongoing spy B story. Unfortunately, issue #15 stumbles a little where past issues have been more successful. First, Cap’s inner monologue just did not work here. It reads like an old detective radio show, very melodramatic and stilted at points. This is especially glaring in a scene where Cap is talking to Sharon and has this internal soliloquy about how he feels betrayed, over something very small, and how he needs to game the way he talks to her, all of which is written in the past tense, making the pulp detective ‘feel’ all the more noticeable. Now maybe that’s all intentional, it is a superhero spy thriller telling the story of a police officer’s betrayal, there are pulpy elements to it, but it doesn’t quite work here, particularly in that scene. Further, some of the “spoken” dialogue comes off silted and pulpy too, particularly toward the end of the book, that just comes off as awkward.
Jason Master’s art also stumbles at the hurdle of issue #15. The action sequences look great, with visceral hits and dynamic movement that really sells the action of what is happening in a given scene. The trouble comes from the sections where characters have a pane to themselves and they’re just speaking. All of the characters have small, sharp eyes that make the characters look like they are squinting. Further, Cap is drawn with plump, dark lips that are somewhat distracting. The colors by Matt Milla do help to make up for this, however, as the colors, save Steve’s mouth, are very natural, deep, and clean with great contrast between dark and light environments.
The cover art is by Alex Ross, and he delivers as always. Cap has a very dynamic position, kicking down while blocking his head with his shield. The dark colors on the costume, with his pants even disappearing into the dark background, the high polished shine of his boots, and even the way the wind appears to catch the gauntlet of his right glove as he falls is the kind of thing that makes a customer take a second look at this book while browsing the selves.
The series has been fun, and it will certainly remain fun in the future, but this issue seemed a little rushed or perhaps unsuccessfully experimental. It’s not bad, and the series as a whole is still enjoyable, but #15 is a weak showing from an otherwise strong book and creative team.