Tuesday, April 28, 2015

All-New Captain America #5 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

I was going to say that this issue has a pacing problem, but "problem" is the wrong word, since this issue is pretty damn exciting.  It's more that the pacing of this issue doesn't fit the standard format of these sorts of the stories, where the hero pulls out the win after he hit rock bottom.

Instead, Sam, aided in the nick of time by a revived Ian, manages to defeat Zemo and destroy the swarm of plague-infested fleas that Lucas (the kid with sterilization powers) released at the end of last issue.  Remender cleverly uses this victory -- achieved when Sam uses his control over birds to deploy them to eat the fleas before they reach the ground -- to rebut the criticism that starts off this issue.  In a flashback, Sam overhears someone in the diner tell his son that Sam only became Captain America as part of an effort to "make sure everything is politically correct and color-coordinated.  He argues that Steve Rogers had saved the world countless times, but Sam just "flies and talks to birds."  Sam admits that this criticism isn't any different from the criticism he applies to himself.  But, saving the day through his control of the birds reminds us (and him) that Sam may solve problems differently than Steve, but the end result is still a saved world.

Before moving onto the second part, I want to comment on two notable aspects of the fight with Zemo.  First, we learn that Ian is alive because he can use the "gel" that Zola used to create him to heal himself.  Honestly, this revelation makes sense.  Plus, it gives us someone in the partnership able to push past normal physical limits.  But, that brings me to my second point.  Sam manages to pull himself -- using his bare hands -- up the sword that Zemo is using to pierce his lung; he does so to (brilliantly) use the hilt to knock out Zemo.  I cringe just even writing it, as I did when I read it.  Both Remender and Immonen did an amazing job of making you feel like you were doing it, showing Sam pushing through the pain.  The problem is that he then goes about the rest of the issue like nothing happened.  As far as I'm aware, Sam is still technically a normal dude.  Although Ian might be able to pull off this stunt and then go onto other fights, it's unclear how Sam could possibly do that.  Remender has to be careful here to remember that Sam isn't Steve.  In fact, stories exploring the physical limitations that Sam faces that Steve didn't would be much more interesting.

Returning to the pacing of this issue, as I mentioned, we defeat Zemo in the middle of this issue.  But, the story isn't over, because Ian has learned Zemo's back-up plan:  he (ingeniously) had Baron Blood fill himself full of Lucas' blood and sent him to Paris to "self-explode."  (On that front, we learn that Lucas is angry because some doctors let his brother die of "curable" pneumonia.  I really don't get why that would result in him deciding to sterilize pretty much everyone on the planet. Hopefully we'll get a little more on that front, otherwise it'll be a missed opportunity.)  Batroc re-appears to distract Ian (and make sure that he's not a murderer), and Sam heads through the Infinite Elevator to take on Blood.  But, everything grinds to a halt at the end of this issue, when it appears that Blood has killed Redwing.  Remender better not go there; it would be like killing Lockheed, for Xavier's sake.

Overall, I'd say this issue is uneven, but it's still part of a strong overall story.  Remender has a lot happening here (I didn't event mention Misty paying off Taskmaster), and it really does make you feel the rush that Sam must be feeling at this point.  Hopefully, Redwing will be there to relax with him when he wins.

*** (three of five stars)

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