The real Captain America is back. I promised that once Marvel returned Steve Rogers to his rightful place as Captain America that I would immediately purchase the Captain America comic book once again. Well, here we have Steve Rogers back as Captain America so I have to put my money where my mouth is.
But, Marvel is not just returning Steve Rogers back as Captain America. They are also reverting the title back to the original numbering. It is a desperate move designed to pander to lapsed long-time readers.
Mark Waid and Chris Samnee are the creative team for this title. I have been a long-time Mark Waid fan. He used to be one of my favorite writers. Plus, Waid is not a complete stranger to Captain America since he wrote this title between 1995–1999. And I loved Waid and Samnee’s Daredevil. It was a fantastic title.
Having said that, Waid has appeared to have fallen off his game considerably over the past two years. Waid’s writing for the All New All Different MarvelNOW titles has been unreadable. Waid seems more focused on getting across an agenda rather than writing logical and well crafted stories designed to entertain the reader. Hopefully, Waid can revive some of his former glory on this title. Let’s hit this review for Captain America #695.
Words: Mark Waid
Art: Chris Samnee
Colors: Matthew Wilson
Words: Robbie Thompson
Art: Valerio Schiti
Colors: Frank D’Armata
Story Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with a short retelling of Captain America’s origin. That Steve Rogers wanted to fight Nazis. (Real Nazis. Not like what an SJW would call a Nazi which is just any human who does not 100% agree with them.) That Steve was weak and scrawny but then benefitted from the power of drugs and steroids to become Captain America. That Captain America and Bucky fought in World War II.
That one day a Nazi missile “killed Bucky” and hurled Steve into the icy waters of the North Atlantic. There Steve would be left frozen until the Avengers found him.
We shift to “Ten years ago.” We see Captain America battling…you guessed it, a group of white supremacists. (I could have picked numerous more realistic villainous groups from drug cartels to street gangs to muslim terrorists that would have made far more sense for Cap to be fighting back in 2007. Hell, why not just have Captain America fight classic comic book super villains? What a shocking idea.) We are in a small town called Burlington, Nebraska located in Bouton County.
This group of white supremacists is named the Republican Party. No wait, Waid did not go that far! This group of white supremacists is named the Rampart. One of the Rampart soldiers comments that Captain America is moving as fast as a “rocket sled.” (Uhh, is this 2007 or 1957?)
The Rampart claim to own Bouton County now. Cap responds that the Rampart do not own the people of Bouton, Nebraska. That the Rampart is trying to take over the local police station in order to get national attention. (You would think if the Rampart wanted national attention that they might have picked a major metropolitan area and not a tiny town in Nebraska.)
None of the Rampart soldiers recognize Captain America. The citizens that Captain America is trying to protect also do not recognize him. (So, this must be one of Captain America’s first adventures since being thawed out from ice.)
There are a group of school children on a field trip to the police station. (That…is a weird field trip to have for little kids. A zoo. A historical site. A museum. I get those. But, a police station?)
Captain America has all the kids and teachers hide in a room. A teacher tells Steve that two kids are missing: Donna and Jacob. Captain America finds the two kids hiding under a desk. We have a black girl and a white boy cowering in fear. Captain America asks the girl if she is Donna. (No. Donna is the little boy. The girl you are talking to is Jacob. Really?)
Captain America tells Donna that he has something for her to do that is more important than her being scared. Captain America says that he has a rule that they follow. Cap says that Donna has to protect Jacob. Donna asks why? Cap responds “Because he’s smaller than you.” (Ah, there is the patented Waid subtext for you. Which one is smaller and which one is bigger? It’s not by accident.)
Captain America then swings into action. Captain America starts kicking ass on all of the Rampart thugs. However, one Rampart soldier is about to shoot Cap in the back. Jacob tells Donna to stay back. (Of course. Wimpy white boy.) Donna shrugs off Jacob the designated wuss and leaps out from under the desk. Donna yells “NO!” and steps in between Captain America and the Rampart soldier’s gun. (Are you feeling as empowered as I am right about now?)
Luckily, Captain America blocks the laser blast with his shield. Captain America tells Donna “I’m stronger. I protect you. That’s the rule.” (Empowering moment over. Sorry, Donna! Go hide behind the big powerful man!)
Captain America then reaches up to an America flag that is handling nearby. (Well, that is conveniently placed American flag.) Captain America then wraps the American flag around Donna. (Huhbutwhat? Why would Steve do this? They girl is not missing clothing. She is not outside in the cold. This makes zero sense. I mean other than Waid wanting a particular image to get across his message.)
Captain America tells Donna that she did good. Captain America addresses the teachers and the children and tells them “Your town is safe. I saw to it on my way here.” (Well, yeah, we all just saw you defeat the bad guys in the police precinct. This line makes no sense. Waid specifically told us that the bad guys were trying to take of the police station. There was no mention that there were any Rampart soldiers anywhere else other than in the one police station. One of the Rampart soldiers did say that they owned the entire county of Bouton. Not sure if Steve is trying to free the entire county. If so he would have said that the county was free and not just the town. Whatever.)
The teacher then thanks Captain America for saving their lives. The teacher asks Captain America to at least tell them his name. (Wait, what? A teacher doesn’t know who Captain America is? I get that he has been frozen. But, he is a massively famous World War II icon. This is like a teacher not knowing who Winston Churchill is or who FDR is or who Stalin is or other famous people connected with World War II. C’mon. This just is not even remotely believable.)
Steve tells the teacher to go ask her grandparents. Captain America then drives off on his motorcycle. We see Cap drive past the Burlington town sign as he exits the town.
We cut to “ten years later.” We see Steve on a motorcycle arriving back at the town sign for Burlington, Nebraska. We see that the town sign has been changed and that the town as been renamed Captain America, Nebraska. The sign has a Jack Kirby styled Captain America on it. (Nice. I approve.)
Steve rides into the small town and sees that their 10th Annual Captain America celebration is going on. (Well, that is certainly convenient.) Steve walks around the celebration. People at the celebration compliment Steve for his cosplay outfit. That he should win the contest that they are having.
Steve then goes to the hot dog stand to get a couple of dogs. Steve asks how long this event has been going on. (Umm, I don’t know Captain Genius. The big fucking banner you just walked past said “10th Annual Captain America Celebration.” Maybe its been going on for ten years?)
The hot dog vender says that this celebration started being held ever year after Captain America rescued a bunch of kids from a white supremacist group. The town even voted to rename their town “Captain America.” Steve asks that this happened right after Captain America came out of ice.
The hot dog vender commented that Steve much be an, “icer.” An icer is a person who believes the story that the Avengers found Captain America frozen. (An icer. Get it? It’s like a Birther. So topical. So fresh. So creative. Yup. Because everything has to be political in the All New All Different MarvelNOW Marvel universe.)
The hot dog vender continues that he thinks once the government say how badass the Avengers were that they took a modern guy and placed him in a Captain America suit and claimed that they found the legend frozen in ice.
Suddenly, a little girl screams out, “Mister, look out!” Steve wheels around with his fists up to do battle with the physical threat that is a tiny little girl. The little girl says that she was telling him to look out for her shield. The girl says that he caught her shield. Steve looks down in his hand and notices that he has a shield in it.
Steve stammers “I…guess I did. Force of habit…?” (What? Is Steve on crack? How would he not know that he had a physical object IN HIS HAND? And why is Steve acting like a stammering newbie who has just discovered his super powers? This makes no sense.)
We then cut to the stage at the Captain America celebration. Various citizens stand up on the stage and give a little speech about Captain America and what he means to them personally. A latino first responder named John Garcia takes the stage. John is a first responder from Orlando. John talks about how he first met Captain America in Tallahassee. The man saw Captain America running out of a burning building with some civilians in his arm. Cap set down the civilian. John says that Captain America was burned and hurting but he rant right back into the burning building.
Next up is a small white boy. He talks about a bully at school. Then someone showed the boy a video of Captain America “busting up some super villain.” (“Busting up” a super villain? Are we in the 1940?! Really? What little kid in 2017 talks like this?) The boy says that he decided that if Cap was not afraid then he did not want to be afraid, either. We see a panel of the boy standing up to the bully. (No, no, no. Kid, didn’t you get Captain America’s message? Small people have to be helpless victims who must rely on someone larger to protect them! You can actually be brave and fight your own battles!)
Next up is a black guy who talks about seeing Captain America in Washington, DC a few months back. The man says that he saw Captain America beating up Captain Nazi. That Captain America rescued the whole country. The man then says that some people are mad that Captain America allowed Captain Nazi to get as far as he did. (Huhbutwhat? Why? Why would anyone be mad at Steve for him getting trapped and then finally breaking out of the trap and quickly defeating the villain? This makes no sense.)
We see a middle aged white guy take the stage and say that Captain America says what we’re all thinking. (Uhhhh, which is…what? What does Captain America say that is what “we are all thinking.” This makes no sense, either.)
Then a gay man takes the stage and says, “He’s crazy handsome.” (…..So what the gay male character has to say about Captain America is limited just to Steve’s physical looks. Ooookay.) Then an overweight black guy takes the stage. He says that Captain America does it all without powers or armor. (But, that is not really true. It has been established that the Super Soldier serum has absolutely blessed Steve with enhanced speed, strength, agility, etc.) An old white lady takes the stage and says that when Captain America talks about hope that she believes him. Then a chubby bearded white male SJW takes the stage and says, “He punches Nazis.” (That…is actually an accurate representation.)
Suddenly, we see the Rampart appear on the stage. One of the Rampart soldiers smacks the SJW guy in the face. The soldier says that the Rampart are back and stronger than ever and are ready to guide the country toward a new era. (And have evidently picked this town of barely 6,000 people to make their famous return. Okay.)
The soldier tells the Rampart to open fire on the crowd. Suddenly, we see Captain America’s shield fly through the air and slice in half all of the Rampart’s guns. We then see Steve catching the shield as he rips off his shirt Superman style. Steve puts on his cowl and says, “Go ahead. I dare you.” (Oooh, Steve is channeling his inner Robert Conrad and daring the Rampart to knock that Eveready battery off his shoulder!)
Captain America proceeds to kick-ass on the Rampart goons. Captain America makes short work of the thugs. Captain America then holds the beaten leader of the Rampart. Captain America says that he is not here by coincidence. That he came here because he heard that the Rampart might be showing up in this town again. Captain America tells the leader to tell him more about the Rampart. The leader says that Captain America will learn more soon. (Ugh. Does that mean we are going to have to suffer through more stories with the Rampart serving as the villains? Fucking great.) The leader then press a button that causes him to explode.
Captain America apologizes that the civilians had to see any of that. (Why is Steve apologizing? Stop apologizing for everything!) Captain America says, “I guess you know for sure who I am now.” (Captain Genius once again. Waid is doing a great job making Steve sound like a moron. No. Nobody at this Captain America celebration knew who the fuck you were.)
Captain America says that he becomes a little self-conscious when people make a fuss. Captain America says that he only came to the festival because he had a job to do. That he was not trying to hide. But, he knew he could move around better without the suit.
The civilians exclaim that Captain America saved them again. They call him a hero and an inspiration. Captain America looks embarrassed and says “Why? Because I’m tall and I have a shield?” (Umm, no because you are FUCKING CAPTAIN AMERICA. National icon and decorated war hero. A founding Avenger. The most heralded of all Marvel super heroes. A super hero who has saved the world numerous times. Seriously?)
Captain America then points out a middle aged woman tending to a man’s injured leg. Captain America says that this woman ran into the laser fire to help that man without a thought. Captain America points to another man holding a child. Captain America says that this man pulled that girl away from falling rubble. That they did not need to be inspired. That it was in them all along. That it is in all of them. (Or they could actually be inspired and that allowed them to discover what was inside of them all along but that they never realized they possessed. How about that? That’s how inspiration and heroes work. Jesus.)
Captain America says that they know what is right. The strong protect the weak. Never forget that. We then see a black woman who has an America flag wrapped around her. She says, “That’s the rule. Welcome back.” (Good lord. This is so cheesy. And I guess this is why Waid had Steve randomly cover that girl in an America flag. So we would recognize her in this scene. There had to be a better way to do this than this way.)
Captain America salutes the woman and then hops on his motorcycle and rides off into the sunset.
We then get a three page back-up story. We see a wimpy and weak Steve Rogers getting beat up. We see him being told that he is too small to join the army. We see Steve getting the super soldier serum. We see Steve Rogers as Captain America fighting in World War II. We see Steve Rogers falling into the icy Atlantic ocean and getting frozen. We see the original Avengers thawing Steve out from the ice. And then we end with Captain America battling Hydra agents with the narrator saying that Steve is a man out of time, but that he still fights for what is right because he will always be Captain America. End of issue.
The Good: Captain America #695 was a bad read. There is no way to sugarcoat this fact. Waid delivered such a poorly crafted and boring debut issue. Having said that, there were some positive aspects to Captain America #695.
Obviously, what I love the most about Captain America #695 is that Steve Rogers is back where he belongs as the undisputed Captain America. That is most definitely a good thing. Steve Rogers is an icon and he deserves to be Captain America and to serve as Marvel’s Superman as far as him being the inspiration and moral beacon for the rest of the super heroes in the Marvel Universe.
I certainly want to give Waid credit for delivering an extremely new reader friendly issue. Readers who know nothing about Captain America, if there even are any, can pick up this issue and not be lost at all. Waid makes sure to give the obligatory one page recap of Steve’s origin to kick off this issue. The rest of the issue serves as a continual reminder of Steve’s position within America and his role as an inspirational icon.
I also appreciated that Waid made Captain America #695 an all ages story. You could give this issue to a child of any age and not have to worry at all about any of the content. This is something that is not done often on many Marvel and DC comic books. It is always wise to make mainstream super hero titles as all ages as possible. This is the best way to pull in younger readers and to help insure the future growth of mainstream super hero comic books.
Waid also serves up a nice amount of action in Captain America #695. This is vitally important. The solid amount of action that we got in this issue helped to counter-balance the weak middle part of the issue that bored the reader to death. A Captain America comic book should always have an emphasis on action and adventure. Making sure that there is always some action helps to further this goal.
Captain America #695 is also a well plotted and paced issue. For the most part, this issue has a nice flow. Waid also does a nice job transitioning smoothly from scene to scene. The story moves along with a clear purpose in mind. This issue is also nicely balanced between dialogue heavy scenes and action packed fight scenes.
Waid kicks off Captain America #695 with a one page scene that recaps Steve’s origin in a clear and concise manner. This is a smart move to make sure that this issue is as new reader friendly as possible. It also fits with the theme of Captain America #695 being a soft reboot of the Captain America franchise.
Speaking of soft reboot, it was interesting to note that we learn in Captain America #695 that only ten years have passed since the original Avengers found Steve Rogers in ice. Marvel has always had a malleable timeline as Marvel has always preferred rather soft reboots to their franchises rather than hard reboots that DC Comics likes to employ. The fact that the Marvel Universe is currently only about a decade old does not really change much of any real substance. It is simply interesting to see how Marvel continually massages their universe’s timeline.
Waid then gives the reader a six page fight scene to kick off the issue. This is a smart move. This is a mainstream super hero title so delivering plenty of action and adventure as quickly as possible is a wise idea. Also, it helps to get the reader excited about the new title in a quick fashion.
Then we get the seven page scene with Steve at the 10th Annual Captain America Festival. This is easily the weakest part of the issue. But, we will get to that later in the review.
I know what Waid was trying to do with this scene. Waid wanted to show how important Steve Rogers is to the American people. More important, Waid wanted to show what Steve Rogers meant to a wide range of difference races and sexes in the American populace. This was supposed to show that no matter a person’s race, religion or sex that all Americans can be unified in their love for Steve Rogers. That Steve Rogers is the one thing that all Americans can agree on.
Waid then kicks things up again with a four page fight scene. This was much needed after such a long boring stretch of the issue. Also, delivering a fight scene right before the end of the issue helps to re-invigorate the reader. This helps to end the issue with the reader full of energy and excited for the next issue.
Waid ends the issue with a short two page scene that is designed to be the “inspirational” part of the story. This is the scene where Waid takes his theme of the strong protecting the weak and the theme of all Americans being heroes and ties them together. This final scene nicely dovetails back into the opening scene. This closing scene provides for enjoyable symmetry for this issue.
Chris Samnee provides plenty of solid artwork. I will admit that Samnee’s style of art is not exactly my personal favorite. But, I certainly appreciate his obvious artistic talents. Samnee is at home in dialogue heavy scenes as he is in action scenes.
I definitely like that Samnee’s art has an old school comic book look to it that is reminiscent of the 1940’s and 1950’s. This blends perfectly with the theme of Steve Rogers being a man from the 1940’s who has been lost in time. It reinforces Steve’s core 1940’s era morals and values and accentuates how Steve can feel at times quite out of place in the modern world.
The Bad: Captain America #695 was a terribly flawed issue. This is a weak story riddled with problems. What is particularly disheartening was that the return of Steve Rogers was packaged in the form of just another All New All Different MarvelNOW story.
Captain America #695 was particularly instructive in what has been plaguing Marvel Comics the past few years and that has lead them to hemorrhage readers and suffer from falling sales numbers. Marvel thought that all they needed to do to win back lapsed readers was to return the iconic Steve Rogers back to the role of Captain America. Marvel doubled down on this thinking by giving Captain America #695 an old school retro cover with the box in the left hand corner of the cover with Captain America’s head in it. This was something done on comics all through the 1970’s and into the 1980’s. Marvel even gave readers the return of the original numbering for this title.
Unfortunately, what Marvel did not change was the actual content of the story. All Waid gave the reader was the standard issue All New All Different MarvelNOW style story that has been roundly rejected by a huge percentage of Marvel’s readership. Marvel can dress up an All New All Different MarvelNOW story with iconic characters and old school 1970’s covers that the want but it won’t change the pile of crap story that is inside of the issue. This is simply placing a fresh coat of pain on a broken down car that is on blocks instead of wheels and is missing an engine.
The fact is that Marvel needs to realize that a huge percentage of their readership does not want issue after issue of All New All Different MarvelNOW stories. Those kind of stories are ones that focus on preaching a particular view of politics or social justice. Those kinds of stories have an obvious agenda and are more concerning with getting across their agenda rather than entertaining the reader.
What mainstream super hero comic book readers desire are stories that focus on action, adventure and entertainment. This is why people purchase mainstream super hero comics. If readers wanted to be preached to about a certain political or social justice agenda then they can simply tune into whatever news station that will reinforce their particular political beliefs. Readers purchase mainstream super hero comics for escapism and for fun. That does not ever seem to be the main objective of most All New All Different MarvelNOW stories that Marvel has been foisting on readers for the past few years.
Take a look at DC Comics. They are enjoying a massive revival since Rebirth. Look at the stories that they have been telling. DC is not concerning with pushing a political or social justice agenda. DC just wants to entertain their readers. DC is focusing on cranking out the best damn mainstream super hero titles on the market that focus on fun action and adventure. Marvel needs to get this figured out and fast. Because, all the iconic characters and gimmicky retro covers alone are going to be enough to save the day for them.
In general, Captain America #695 is an incredibly shallow story. Waid offers up a rather uncreative and basic story. There is zero depth to this issue. There is little content or substance for the reader to enjoy. Waid’s story is right on the surface for the entire issue. It feels like Waid barely put forth any effort at all in writing this issue.
There is also a lack of any complex or interesting plot lines. Waid establishes a single solitary plot line involving the Rampart. That is it. It is unfortunate that Waid could not establish the main plot line while also rolling out a few sub-plot lines to flesh out the story and maybe another plot line to serve as a foundation for the second story arc.
The dialogue in Captain America #695 was poor. Waid delivers generic dialogue at best and terribly cheesy dialogue at worst. None of the characters have unique external voices. The dialogue is delivered in an awkward and clunky manner for most of the issue.
The character work in Captain America #695 is atrocious. I have read children’s stories with far more nuanced character work than what Waid gave us in this issue.
Steve is about as bland and generic as his character can possibly get. Waid’s take on Steve Rogers is like a mayonnaise and lettuce sandwich on white bread. It is painfully bland and boring. At no point does Steve exhibit anything that might even be remotely confused with an actual personality.
To make things even worse, Waid has Steve vacillate between being naive and acting like a shy and stammering newbie. Seriously. Peter Parker early in his career as a teen-aged Spider-Man had more confidence and poise that Waid’s Steve Rogers.
This is particularly noticeable in the scene with the 10th Annual Captain America Festival. In this scene, Waid has Steve Rogers acting like an unconfident and awkward person stammering his way though his dialogue. Steve is so clearly uncomfortable in his own skin.
Remember that this is Steve Rogers. The man who is used to being a war hero and national icon. Historically, Steve has always carried himself with the utmost polish, professionalism and class. Steve has always been written as the character who has the utmost confidence in himself and that confidence radiates out of him and through every person near him. That Steve commands respect from those around him without ever having to say a single word.
Yet, Waid has Steve acting more like a young Spider-Man. Waid has Steve embarrassed at the civilians at the festival calling him a hero and an inspiration. Waid has Steve looking embarrassed and questioning who the civilians would call him a hero and an inspiration. Waid even has Steve asks if people view him as a hero and inspirational because he is tall and has a shield.
Seriously? This is Steve fucking Rogers we are talking about. This is a character that has singlehandedly saved the world numerous times. This is a character that is the most decorated war hero in the history of the United States of America. This is a character who is viewed by all other super heroes in the Marvel Universe as the greatest of all the super heroes. Other super heroes view Steve Rogers as the pillar that supports the entire super hero community.
How many times has Steve Rogers given the emotional and inspirational speech to rally the troops during big events in the Marvel Universe. Remember the all-time great Captain America speech in Infinity Gauntlet? Steve Rogers is a character who has the utmost confidence. This is a character who has embraced the role as the ultimate alpha dog and the moral touchstone of the Marvel Universe. Steve Rogers is to the Marvel Universe what Superman is to the DC Universe.
At no point would Steve Rogers ever be awkward or embarrassed at being called a hero or inspirational. At no point would Steve Rogers would say that people only view him as a hero because he is tall and has a shield. Make no mistake, Steve Rogers is a good and humble man, but he is one who exudes the supreme confidence of a natural born leader. Steve Rogers is a man who knows exactly why people consider himself to be a hero. And it is Steve’s clear understanding of what makes him a hero that enables him to encourage other people to also find what it takes to be a hero, too.
Waid’s take on Steve’s character is so wildly out of place with Steve’s core personalities that it slaps the reader in the face and pulls them right out of the story. However, it gets even worse as Waid has Steve tell the civilians that the civilians did not need inspiration. That they did not need to be inspired by Steve to be heroes.
This is mind-numbingly stupid. The entire point of Steve’s character is that he is an inspirational character. That is the very root of his character ever since his debut during World War II. Captain America has always been an ideal. An ideal designed to rally the troops and to inspire an entire country to overcome great adversity. An ideal for every day Americans to find that courage and strength inside of their being to become heroes. Captain America is an ideal that allows people to become the heroes that they never thought that they could become.
What would have been far more consistent with Steve’s personality would have been for Waid to have Steve tell the civilians that he is glad that he inspires them. That Steve wants all of the civilians to realize that they have what it takes to be a hero, too. Then for Steve to compliment the civilians on all the heroic things that they did during the fight. For Steve to say that he wants to inspire people to realize their own strengths and that each person has their own unique strengths and can all be heroes in their own unique way.
But, to have Steve seem ashamed and embarrassed about being called a hero and being an inspiration? For Steve to not know why people would call him a hero and an inspiration? For Steve to offer the feeble statement that people find him inspiring because he is tall and has a shield? No. Just no. That is pure crap and inconsistent with Steve Rogers’ character and history.
The poor character work extends well past Waid’s handling of Steve Rogers. Absolutely none of the other characters had any type of personality at all. All of the other characters are either stereotypes at best or simple cardboard cutouts at worst. Either way, none of the other characters in this issue are anything more than generic extras that take up space in the panels in order to move the story forward.
The poor character work extends to the incredibly lame villains that Waid has picked for this opening story arc. After several years of getting Captain Nazi and Hydra (the biggest white supremacist group ever) as the main villains what does Waid give us for this brand new direction for the Captain America franchise? Another white supremacist group. What the actual fuck?
I got it. Nazi white supremacists are the easy villain. Americans are told that this is the one group, the only group, that they are allowed to hate without any fear of recriminations or judgment. Muslim extremists? Nope. That makes you racist. Drug Cartels? Also makes you racist. Gangbangers? Yeah, you’re still a racist. But, white supremacists? Perfect. It fits the social justice message and is the one group nobody gets judged for hating. The problem is that it is also mind-numbingly uncreative and ridiculously boring.
After having Captain Nazi and Hydra shoved down our throughs for the past few years the absolute last thing I want to see as a villain in Captain America is another Nazi white supremacist group. The Rampart are just a lame knock off version of Hydra.
Seriously. I will take literally anything else for villains in Waid’s debut story arc. Seriously. Give me talking chimpanzees, clowns on PCP, evil librarians or killer anthropomorphic mushrooms. Anything other than more Nazi white supremacists!
Another massive problem with Waid’s story in Captain America #695 is the lack of internal logic and sheer stupidity of certain aspects of the story. The entire issue is littered with stupid moments as well as moments that lack internal logic.
One example is in the opening fight scene. Maybe other people had different filed trips than I did as a kid or as my two sons are currently having now. But, a field trip to a police station? Zoos, museums, historical sights or even nature reserves and parks. Those are normal school field trips. But, you local police station? Weird.
Then we have Captain America conveniently ending his fight with the Rampart thugs right underneath an American flag. That was way too convenient. Then Waid has Captain America take the American flag and wrap Donna with it. Why? I get doing this if they were outside and it was cold. Or if Donna had no clothes. But, Donna is fully clothes and inside a temperature controlled police station. This just makes no sense.
Dumb scenes like this that lack any logic only serve to seem contrived and they simply rip the reader right out of the story. Waid wanted the image of Donna in an American flag and was going to shoehorn it into the story regardless if it made any sense or not. This is the kind of crap storytelling you get when a writer’s agenda exceeds their desire to write an intelligent and logical story.
Sadly, the lack of logic does not stop there. Waid then has the school teacher not recognize Captain America at all. Seriously? A school teacher? This is like a school teacher not recognizing a picture of Churchill, FDR, Stalin or General Patton. Captain America is a huge historical figure from World War II.
I do not care if it had been a long time since he was last seen. I am sure that Captain America would be taught in history class just like any other historical World War II figure. It makes no sense that the school teacher would not recognize a historical figure like Captain America. Again, this lack of logic just continues to pull the reader out of the story.
Then we have Waid choose the setting for the Captain America Festival to be set in Burlington, Nebraska which has a population of 6,319. Yet, the people attending the festival are incredibly diverse. According to the US Census, Nebraska is 89% white, 5% black and everyone else makes up the remaining 6%.
I totally get Waid wanting a diverse crowd. So, maybe it would make more sense for Waid to pick another location other than small town white America for this festival. There are plenty of other locations. The United States of America is a huge country.
The point is that the people at the festival felt oddly out of place for the setting. It would be like Waid having the festival being in Miami but having no Latinos in the crowd of attendees. It would be weird. And when things feel forced or out of place the reader gets pulled out of the story. This is what happened again at this moment.
Now, I guess it could be argued that the Captain America Festival pulled from people from all across the nation. But, if that was the case then the crowd would be much larger and would be set in a different venue. Waid has Samnee drawing this festival like a tiny rural festival. And there are very few people in attendance at this festival. Samnee draws this festival like a sparsely attended rural festival in the middle of nowhere.
Another moment of stupidity is when Steve arrives at this small Captain America festival. Waid has Steve right in front of a massive banner that says “10th Annual Captain America Celebration” and has Steve ask the hot dog vender how many years the celebration has been going on for. Really? This is one of those stupid moments where the writer and artist are not on the same page or Waid did not have his brain engaged. The result is Steve looks like an idiot and the readers gets pulled out of the story.
Speaking of the festival, I get that Waid wanted a really diverse crowd. And that if fine. But, maybe Waid could avoid playing into negative stereotypes if he is going to make it obvious he is trying to be as diverse as possible. Waid has characters of all different races, sexes and ages talk about what Captain America means to them.
All of these diverse characters talk about the strength, the courage and the integrity of Captain America. All of these characters get to comment on something inspirational, powerful or honorable about Steve Rogers. But, the gay guy? He gets to talk about how “hot” Steve Rogers is. Why is it all of the other characters get to talk about something of depth, but the gay male character simply just swoons over how “hot” Steve is? That is awful.
Then we have Waid’ terrible handling of the main theme that runs throughout Captain America #695. The main theme of this issue is that the strong must protect the weak. Sadly, Waid handles this theme in a clumsy and in-artful manner. It is so poorly handled.
In the opening action scene Waid hammers home in such a ham-handed manner that Donna must protect Jacob because Jacob is smaller than her. Waid then reinforces this message at the end of the issue when Steve tells the people at the of the issue that the strong must protect the weak.
Not only is this theme handled in a ham-handed manner with zero nuance or skill. But, it was also a terrible message. Waid makes sure for Steve to tell Donna that she was bigger than Jacob and needed to be brave and protect Jacob. This is Waid giving his empowering moment for the black female character.
However, Waid is essentially having Steve tell Jacob that he is small and weak and should remain afraid and remain unable to protect himself or those around him. That is absolutely a horrid message to the reader. Steve Rogers is all about empowering all Americans. Steve Rogers is all about making everyone realize their inner strength and making everyone a hero in their own unique way.
Waid equating a person who is physically larger with a person who is braver and more heroic is a terrible and misinformed message. Everyone knows that it is not the size of the dog in the fight that matters but the size of the fight in the dog that matters. Kick-ass heroes come in all sorts of packages. I know plenty of people who might be physically smaller why are still way more brave and heroic than larger people.
If Waid truly wanted an empowering moment and wanted this scene to be consistent with Steve Roger’s character then Waid would have had Steve empower both Donna and Jacob. Steve should have told both children than that they needed to be brave and to watch out for each other and to protect each other. Two strong warriors in a pack is better than one strong warrior and one weak victim who needs protection. That is a much healthier message that is far more consistent with Steve Roger’s inspirational character. But, that runs afoul of Waid’s agenda.
The three page back-up story was pointless. Waid had already covered the same ground in the beginning of the issue. This was just pure fluff designed to take up page space.
The only problem I saw with Samnee’s artwork is that there appeared to be a disconnect between the art and the story at certain moments.. For example, in the first action scene there is one panel where Waid has the teacher screaming with her dialogue all in bold font and with exclamation points. But, Samnee draws the teacher’s with a completely blank and unemotional face.
Overall: Captain America #695 was a disappointing read. This issue offers the reader little in the way of actual substance and content. You could easily skip this issue and pick up the next issue and not miss anything at all. Remember, Captain America #695 comes with the inflated $4.00 cover price that Marvel likes to slap onto their popular comics. There is no way that Waid offers the reader enough actual content to justify spending $4.00 on this issue.
I would recommend Captain America #695 to readers who love all of Waid’s work on his other All New All Different MarvelNOW titles will probably enjoy this issue. For everyone else? I would pass on this issue.
It might be worth holding off until this debut story arc is finished and see if we are going to get the Waid from his Daredevil run or if we are going to get Waid from his All New All Different MarvelNOW titles. Hopefully, Waid finds his groove on Captain America and decides to give us the quality of writing that he did on his Daredevil run.