CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #13
Writer: Nick Spencer
Pencillers: Ted Brandt and Ro Stein
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Release Date: 3/8/17
Allegiances are tested, in the past and present, in this lead up to “Secret Empire.”
Plot: In the past, Steve must choose between keeping his cover or saving the life of Helmut Zemo’s father, a decision which puts him in direct conflict with Bucky. This event not only impacts the friendship between Helmut and Steve, but also alters the history of how Bucky and Steve Rogers got to the present day.
In the present day, Baron Zemo takes matters into his own hands to prepare for the upcoming war between Hydra and S.H.I.E.L.D by using one of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s old programs against it.
Story: There is a lot going on in this issue, with two related storylines running in the past and present. While the back and forth becomes a little irritating at times, Nick Spencer does a great job of weaving the two parts together.
In the flashbacks Spencer includes a lot of internal monologue from Steve Rogers where he’s speaking to Helmut Zemo. It’s in this text we get a better idea of the internal struggle Captain America faces living a double life. He may be the villain now as a member of Hydra, but his loyalty to Helmut and determination to correct injustices is the same righteousness that makes up classic Captain America.
We also see Captain America isn’t purely evil and still feels loyal to Bucky, stopping Helmut from killing him. As much as this issue is an origin story of sorts for Helmut Zemo, setting up the role he plays in the present, it’s also a bit of sentimental love triangle between Cap’s allegiances.
The present day storyline is significantly less sappy, but we still get a great speech from Helmut explaining to the mysterious “Bob,” how in the new order the forgotten and abandoned will form their own family. Sounds like a great recruitment strategy to get a bunch of angry villains to join your team.
Although the present day storyline starts out slow, readers get a huge payoff as the issue ends with the build up of the army of villains who Hydra will use to take down S.H.I.E.L.D. This is an exciting foreshadow of what’s to come in the Secret Empire event.
Art: While it still may not be easy for readers to sympathize with Hydra Cap, Ted Brandt and Ro Stein do a great job of depicting the emotional strife Steve endures when he finds out the army is going after Helmut’s father.
We even see a lot of emotion from Baron Zemo himself later in the issue, which is not always easy for an artist to do for a character wearing a mask.
While the present-day panels lack action, there are some exciting fight sequences in the flashbacks including a panel with Captain America driving a motorcycle through a glass window. Rachelle Rosenberg’s use of colors for the flashbacks, with only red and grayscale, add for an interesting effect and help distinguish the two plot lines visually.
The lack of dialogue in the panels where we see Baron Zemo building his army and the length (almost four and a half pages) make the artwork even more impactful. You can’t help but start hearing some sinister instrumental music playing in your head as you go through this montage of Marvel villains.
Verdict: Switching back and forth between the past and present made this issue a little hard to follow, but overall it does a good job of adding some emotional weight to the Hydra Cap story. Even if you hate the Hydra storyline, this issue does a good job of making this version of Steve Rogers more sympathetic. If you haven’t been reading Captain America: Steve Rogers, now is a good time to start leading up to Secret Empire.
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars