Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly’s Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty has been a wonderful, back-to-basics take on Captain America. Issue #4 continues down that road, telling a story that really gets down to the bones of who Steve Rogers is and what it means to be Captain America. It’s the quintessential Cap story at all angles.
The Outer Circle has made Steve question his legacy and his role as Captain America, instilling some deep anxiety in the character. For years now, Captain America stories have solidified that Steve Rogers isn’t an agent of the country, but rather an agent for the people. Steve doesn’t always agree with the government, as we’ve seen with events like Civil War and his stint as Nomad, but he fights for what he believes America can and should be.
Sentinel of Liberty isn’t the first Cap book to have Steve question the country or the symbols he wears, but in doing so it becomes a quintessential Cap story. At their heart, Captain America comics have always been political, and this one is no different. We live in uncertain times – between the pandemic, the former president being investigated for treason, and the divide in our country, Steve’s questioning of what these symbols mean is more poignant now than ever. After all, aren’t many Americans also questioning how we can make this country the best version of itself?
Steve’s trip back home has been a wonderful character study, showcasing that what makes Steve so extraordinary never came from the serum at all. Steve cares and genuinely wants the best for his fellow Americans in this book. He teaches a young boy how to fight back against bullies, but also makes a point to tell him about the cycle of violence and how to stop it. He seeks advice from the people who tell him what the real issues they face are, not the suits in the government.
Beyond the metaphor and greater meaning of the story being explored, Lanzing and Kelly know how to tell a good story about these characters narratively. The scenes between Bucky and Steve are amazing and heartfelt, feeling 100% authentic to who the characters are. It’s hard not to feel moved by Bucky and Steve confiding in each other and leaning back on their decades of friendship. Reading that interaction, you really see how the characters have grown both in their time spent working together and their time apart.
Carnero’s pencils are the missing ingredient to make this story a great one. The way she draws Steve is ideal, giving him an innocence as much as he is a seasoned soldier who has seen his fair share of tragedies. No two characters look alike and it really feeds into the townspeople in this book feeling like their own characters.
Sentinel of Liberty #4 ends with Steve being inspired by the townspeople to ask questions about the future of the country and his role in it, and the series can either stick the landing next issue or flounder at the finish line depending on how the resolution goes. So far, Carnero, Lanzing, and Kelly are a force of nature with their work on Captain America, demonstrating deep love and understanding for this cast of characters.
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