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Captain America #696 Review

Comic Books

Captain America #696 Review

The humble Cap is back in this gorgeously drawn issue.

Back in the late 60’s and early 70’s Captain America was more of a roving hero of justice. With his trusty van and motorcycle he traveled the country serving as a beacon for all Americans. It was an older time for comics, but an interesting style of comic storytelling to say the least. I quite enjoyed it in the recently released Captain America: Justice is Served, but you can actually get a similar taste from what Mark Waid and Chris Samnee are doing with the current series.

So what’s it about?

Read our preview.

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Why does this matter?

Last issue began to tell Cap’s story: a man, a motorcycle, and a plan to visit small town America. He of course ran into some awful terrorists, but it was more about his connection with the everyday people. This issue continues that theme and it’s very refreshing.

Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?

Captain America #696 Review
Let him wash a dish, man. I’m sure he can do it quick.

This issue starts to delve into how Captain America may want to live a normal life, but he’s just too famous to do so. It opens with him going to a diner and requesting he wash a few dishes to earn a lunch. They refuse. They love him and won’t accept. Cap’s boyscout demeanor humbly allows it, but you can tell he’s not cool with the endless favors. Of course, by the end of the issue he earns that lunch and then some, but humbly so. Waid and Samnee are capturing a sweeter, more endearing version of the character that we haven’t seen in ages. After the months of him being Hydra I can see how this might come as a shock, but it gets to the core of the character and it’s very refreshing.

You know what else is refreshing? This art! There are images of Cap in this comic that are incredibly iconic whether it’s a full page splash of him riding his motorcycle or a single panel of him swinging off a building in order to rush to save innocent lives. Samnee is very good at choreographing a fight sequence and I wouldn’t be surprised if he got a high paying job drawing storyboards for movies. There’s a flow to his art that is easy going and refreshing. He consistently uses foreground and background to help frame the characters as well. Take for instance the opening with Cap entering a diner. There are folks closer at the foreground, a bit of distance in the back showing the wall and outside, and then Cap meeting with the owner at the center. It draws your eye and is very clean. When the fighting kicks up a notch there’s an excellent flow to the action with each panel seamlessly drawing your eye and allowing your brain to fill in the gaps. It’s visually striking in a cinematic way.

Captain America #696 Review
So, I guess he just waves his sword around all day?

It can’t be perfect can it?

If reading about Captain America chatting with local ordinary people doesn’t sound like it’d appeal to you you’ll probably find some of this issue boring. By my count, there are 4 pages devoted to showing Cap talking to average people, showing how humble he is, and building up his character. I find character work interesting, but it’s hard to argue this isn’t the action-packed sort of storytelling we’ve come to expect from Waid and Samnee after their epic Black Widow run.

I will say it’s hard to gather what the purpose is of this story arc beyond showing Cap as the humble American we all remember him being. Who is the big villain, is there a big villain? Where does his motorcycling lead? There’s no real clue since this issue and the last are done-in-one-adventures. There’s a hint at more on the final page, but it remains unclear.

Is It Good?

If you ever craved a Captain America series that was all about bringing him back to basics you’ve come to the right place. This series does a great job reminding us good, old-fashioned America is a big part of what makes this character tick, and why he has earned to use it in his title.

Captain America #696 Review
Captain America #696
Is it good?
Top notch art in a story that captures the humble nature of the hero.
The art is excellent at capturing dynamic movement and depth
Nice to see Captain America the man who has earned the monicker
Tight action
There are slower scenes to be sure
The arc doesn't quite have an identity or purpose yet

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