We’re a month away from the Fourth of July, but it’s never too early to celebrate with Captain America. This week Marvel releases the “Home of the Brave” trade paperback in comic shops which contains Captain America #695 to #700. It’s the first we’ve seen of the traditional hero of the land of the free since his stint as a Hydra agent in Secret Empire. Having reviewed every issue in this collection I can say without question this is a back to basics take on the character and it’s the perfect read for the Fourth of July holiday.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Mark Waid and Chris Samnee, the team supreme who transformed the world of Daredevil and produced a cinematic spy thriller starring Black Widow, reunite to work their magic on the greatest hero of all – Captain America! Steve Rogers is back in shield-slinging action and on a journey across America to restore his tarnished reputation. But the dangers he encounters as he crosses the Home of the Brave will require more courage than ever before! And when he encounters the all-new Swordsman, strap yourselves in for a sword vs. shield duel unlike anything you’ve ever seen! Be here as America’s living legend is reimagined through the eyes of a pair of living legends!
Why does this matter?
This may contain six issues, but it also has the extra-sized #700 milestone issue to lengthen it a bit more than the usual trade paperback. It also opens with three one-shot style adventures proving Cap is back and follows up with an excellent three part story sending Cap into the future (a future where without him all is lost!).
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This is a great collection showing off the prowess of Chris Samnee and Mark Waid’s collaboration which was proven expert on their Black Widow run. The first three issues in this collection seem to be making a statement about Captain America and getting back to his lone traveler persona. For months (or was it years?) Marvel depicted him as a secret Hydra agent and many casual and longtime fans were upset. This series set the record straight and gave folks the Cap they knew and loved. These first three issues have Cap face off against Kraven the hunter, Swordsman, and a terrorist organization. Samnee hammers home the patriotic nature of the hero, be it on his motorcycle or in how he treats every American as an equal. The action is dynamic and incredibly clean.
The last three issues are devoted to a story arc involving a future where the rich have taken over America and really junked it up. Cap is fighting a deformed man named Babbington who is a supreme leader. There are a lot of fight scenes since Cap is at war to save “New America” which allows Chris Samnee to really let the visual storytelling flow. There are panels that will stick with you, like the glaring eye of Cap as blood drips from his mask, or the disbelief on his face when the war takes a step back. Seeing Cap in a war-like setting is a suitable way of honoring the character as it’s where his roots lie. It’s all wrapped up in a satisfying, and deeply emotional, ending. I won’t spoil it, but it features Cap making the ultimate sacrifice and cementing why he’s one of the greatest heroes of all time.
This collection also has a recovered story written by Mark Waid with art by the late Jack Kirby. It’s a nice touch and it’s a reminder of the old school vibe Cap used to have. The biggest takeaway from this story is how serious and intense Cap can be both in battle or just conversing with Nick Fury. It’s a stark contrast to the mellow nature of the hero in the opening chapters of this collection.
This collection also has three and a half pages devoted to the variant covers for issue #700. There’s also a nice cover breakdown from Chris Samnee that shows off some great sketches.
It can’t be perfect can it?
There are chapters in this collection that run a bit slow with heavy exposition. In the overall sense, it’s not a huge problem because things pick up here and there, but it’s worth noting.
Is it good?
This collection is a breath of fresh air after the Secret Empire summer event and that comes from a guy who loved Secret Empire. Samnee’s art is refreshing and excellent at capturing the effortless strength of one of the most iconic heroes ever created. This collection also has the added boost of the extra-sized #700 milestone issue complete with a Jack Kirby story recovered from obscurity. This is the perfect read for this Fourth of July holiday.
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