CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #17
Writer: Nick Spencer
Pencillers: Andres Guinaldo and Ramon Bachs
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Release Date: 5/24/17
Captain America fights his toughest battle yet following the backlash from the Las Vegas incident. He’s beaten the resistance, but can he also defeat the press?
Plot: In Captain America: Steve Rogers #17 we get a”ripped from headlines” story where a leader in power goes against the critical press he believes to be biased and full of “fake news.” Sound familiar?
While Hydra wants a fluff piece, reporter Sally Floyd has something more on her mind leading to a devastating consequence.
Story: As I’ve written before about this book, it’s not always easy to sympathize with this version of Captain America, regardless of his commitment to the Hydra cause. Which is why Nick Spencer’s decision to tell this issue from a different POV, Sally Floyd, works so well. From her opening monologue, explaining her history with Captain America, the tone is set. This isn’t just going to be an interview, but another battle of sorts for Captain America to fight if he wants Hydra to win. Sally is not a hero, but will defend the truth as fiercely as any Avenger.
The fact that Sally is a relatively unknown character to the reader heightens the tension of the story, framing the “battle” in this issue as an average Joe vs super-human battle subbing in for the free press vs tyranny. While it’s all up to interpretation, readers following American politics might find similar sentiments in this issue as the real world such as arguments over a biased media and a forgotten middle class. Spencer doesn’t explore these ideas to politically isolate anyone, but to deepen his exploration of how there are two sides to every story – something that is important to the foundation of this tale.
The interview also smartly serves as a plot device to check in on the things happening around them that are a result of the fear and terror of the Hydra regime. Readers see the Inhuman internment camp Hydra has set up and the fear it creates. Interestingly, there is also a cameo from Magneto, who Captain America approaches for a secret deal to set up New Tian in order to avoid war which shows his political savvy.
Art: Compared to previous issues, the coloring on this book is much brighter and saturated, mimicking the glitz and glamour of television news. By using a richer color palette, Rachell Rosenberg accentuates the shift in POV from the normal Hydra crew to Sally.
Ramon Bachs and Andres Guinaldo’s best scenes use staging to visually show the conflicts of the books. Sally and Captain are staged facing each other down, which while an obvious choice for a one-on-one interview, heightens the drama and tension as they move in towards one another as their anger builds and clashes. If you’ve seen the movie Frost/Nixon, or any more modern contentious interview, these scenes will feel scarily familiar as what starts as a civil interview boils over.
With Bachs and Guinaldo, readers are treated to a lot of detailed facial expression as characters respond to shifting circumstance, from a smug Magneto to an angrier, scarier Cap, which creates a lot of emotion in an issue where not a lot of physical action occurs.
Verdict: With large crossover events like Secret Empire, it gets hard to pick and choose which books you actually want to buy. While Captain America: Steve Rogers #17 doesn’t significantly progress the plot the way other books from the event have, it does do an excellent job of building out the world where the action takes place. Introducing Sally Floyd gives readers the perspective of the average person living in this new world order.
Her thoughts and perceptions aren’t as colored by her personal relationship to Steve as some other narrators have been, which is what makes this issue even more chilling. Sally isn’t frightened because Steve isn’t the man he was, she’s frightened because the world she lives in has transformed from a democracy to a military state. Fans of dystopian literature would enjoy the feel of this issue.
Rating: 3/5 Stars