CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #16
Writer: Nick Spencer
Pencillers: Kevin Libranda, Yildiray Cinar and Jon Malin
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Release Date: 4/19/17
After being named the new director of S.H.I.E.L.D., everything begins to fall in place for Captain America’s Hydra takeover. No one who stands in the way of Steve Rogers is safe, not even those closest to him.
Plot: Captain America: Steve Rogers #16 shows the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. from Steve Rogers perspective as well as continuing with Baron Zemo’s attempts to restore the Cosmic Cube after the events of Thunderbolts #12. We also learn more about Steve’s history with Hydra and how it leads to the present day.
Story: While there are some scenes in the past, further exploring the relationship he has with Elisa as a mother-figure, as well as his loyalty to Hydra, this issue primarily focuses on the current-day events leading to the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. Compared to other issues from the Secret Empire crossover event, the story is fairly light on action.
The scenes with Steve offer very little other than to reiterate how loyal he is to Hydra and why he’s willing to betray people close to him, like Bucky. Overall Nick Spencer has done a good job in this run of portraying Steve Rogers as a nuanced character despite the strange turn of him becoming a Hydra operative. This issue however fails in that regard, and instead just reminds you how little the Hydra Cap and the Cosmic Cube make sense.
The more interesting plot points come from Maria Hill. Writing her as a desperate outcast with nothing to lose increases the drama in this issue, and makes her discovery of Steve’s Hydra secret even more compelling and gut-wrenching. While she made serious mistakes, to find out her successor is an operative of Hydra is truly shocking. Nick Spencer’s best work in the issue comes during a suspenseful scene where Maria tries to get hold of Rick Jones only for Steve to intercept at the last moment. Just as it looks like the good guys might be catching a break, they are foiled again.
Art: The penciller team of Kevin Libranda, Yildiray Cinar and Jon Malin do a solid job for a book that is underwhelming story-wise and features minimal action sequences.
In the flashbacks, we see more of Steve’s emotion and see how passionate he is about Hydra while still being torn about losing his mother as a child. The flashbacks also benefit from the smart gray and red color palette from Rachelle Rosenberg that flips the traditional black and white to let you know this is the past, but a slightly different past.
We also see some great character work showing Bucky’s grief after finding out about Steve’s betrayal. Of all the heroes, it’s expected that Bucky would take the news the worst.
The character work isn’t as strong in the present-day panels with Steve, but we do get a nice sense of drama and suspense building up to the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. and showing the events happening around the world as Steve gives his epic speech as the new supreme leader of Hydra. The artwork also does a great job of showing the scale of the events happening while still keeping a focus on Steve and Hydra.
Verdict: Unless you’re a huge fan of this iteration of Steve Rogers, this issue doesn’t have a ton to offer. Arguably you could skip straight to Secret Empire #0 without missing too many important details. The best parts of this issue are arguably the ones that focus on characters other than Steve Rogers.
While we see Captain America’s history with Hydra and get a stronger sense of the reasons for his allegiance, the story lacks enough emotion to evoke the reader’s sympathy.
Rating: 2.5/5 Stars