Empyre: Captain America is a story that feels weird. Phillip Kennedy Johnson is a soldier, and this book was clearly given to him because of that. Captain America in this story is a soldier first, and a superhero and Avenger second. Captain isn’t just a title in this issue, and Mark Gruenwald’s Captain America who didn’t even kill Nazis, this is not. It’s a functional story, and one that was perfectly enjoyable, but it feels off to the character.
But, moreover, it feels like a book that doesn’t seem to fit with the era that we’re in. Not in a bad way, to be clear — this book is not problematic in any way. But it’s strangely neoconservative in a way that you would not expect from Captain America. This is interventionist Captain America, Captain America as the world’s policeman.
The art is functional. Nothing more, and nothing less. It misses opportunities to emphasize the body horror of the plant-men Cotati, but the art itself is fine in telling the story it does. It’s just . . . okay. Captain America is a character with an incredibly kinetic style, who bounds from scene to scene. The art shouldn’t be as static and lifeless as this is.
Unless you’re a completionist, you really have no reason to buy this. It’s an underwhelming story in an event that has otherwise been really fun so far. Hopefully, as the story moves beyond its introduction, it will pick up, but I don’t see anything of that in this first issue. But, that said, Kennedy Johnson has written well in the past, and I don’t see reason to doubt that it will improve.