Ta-Nehisis Coates has quickly made “Captain Of Nothing” one of the most intriguing stories that is currently being told at Marvel. Coates has properly built this new story arc on all the events Steve Rogers has been through to further push what it means for him to be Captain America. As of the last issue that character exploration has caused Steve Rogers was arrested for the murder of General Ross. This is all part of a larger conspiracy that is being built around events such as Civil War II, Secret Empire and other recent Marvel stories. With Steve now locked up it will be up to Sharon Carter and Winter Soldier to prove Steve’s innocence and uncover the greater conspiracy going on. Let’s find out what is next with Captain America #8.
Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Artist: Adam Kubert
Colorist: Frank Martin
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: At an undisclosed location Alexa Lukin meets with the Captain Hydra version of Steve Rogers to reveal he is free as she promised. Captain Hydra is pleased and wants to act on their plans immediately.
Over at the Myrmidon prison regular Steve Rogers is locked in his cell. While there Steve thinks of how Wolfgang Von Strucker got control of Myrmidon by helping take down Hydra’s “Army of Evil” and now uses the prison for his own schemes. That includes Von Strucker showing everyone he is in charge through force by broadcasting to all the inmates how he can take them out.
The latest one of these broadcast fights show Von Strucker defeat The Wrecker, who Von Strucker choose because the villain once went toe-to-toe with Thor.
While watching the fight Steve realizes he needs a new name if he is going to survive.
Elsewhere Sharon Carter has a meeting with Mayor Wilson Fisk. After some small talk Sharon gets to the reason why she called for this meeting: to offer Mayor Fisk a way out of his own funeral. Mayor Fisk wonders why Sharon would meet with him only to throw out such a threat.
Sharon takes out various pictures that show General Ross, Von Strucker, Alexa Lukin, Selene Gallio and Mayor Fisk together, implying he is part of a major conspiracy. She then talks about how Mayor Fisk knows Steve is innocent. Mayor Fisk says Sharon is overrating his powers and he is just hoping that General Ross’ killer is brought to justice.
Sharon says she is disappointed in Mayor Fisk because while was properly elected by the system she fights to protect his buddies were not. She reminds Mayor Fisk that while SHIELD is not around and there is chaos in Washington she has survived. Sharon then says the question Mayor Fisk should ask is how she got her hands on these incriminating pictures.
Mayor Fisk admits he is impressed by Sharon’s attitude and admits he does not like to share including his city. He gives Sharon a flash drive. Fisk then reminds Sharon he saved New York (during the events in Secret Empire) and that the public likely trust him more than they trust Steve Rogers right now.
Back at Myrmidon, Steve is trying to figure out what he should do next to best position himself in the prison. Bulldozer approaches Steve in a friendly way but Steve is not having any of it. Bulldozer reminds Steve that he was also in the army and saw a lot of the same things Steve did. Steve fires back that does not excuse all the things Bulldozer has done.
Piledriver speaks up by asking if Steve thinks they can’t forget everyone he killed. Steve says he did not kill General Ross. Piledriver says he was talking about what Steve did as the Supreme Commander of Hydra when he made everyone think they could trust him more than Jesus.
While they get in a pushing contest Steve says inspiring people is not murder. Piledriver responds by telling Steve to tell that to Rick Jones, who no one tried to save even after saying “Avengers Assemble.”
Elsewhere, while flying in a jet, Alexa goes to freshen up. On her way to the restroom Alexa tells Selene to act.
Selene suddenly attacks Captain Hydra. Captain Hydra fights back and is able to turn things around. As the fight goes on Selene finds an opening and uses her powers to melt Captain Hydra’s body. Just before he dies Captain Hydra says “Hail…Hydra…Immortal.”
Alexa calls her contact to say they got the job done.
At Sharon Carter’s underground bunker Sharon shows Misty Knight, Mockingbird and White Tiger the information she got from Mayor Fisk. The information points The Foreigner being responsible for General Ross’ murder. End of issue.
The Good: Thus far Ta-Nehisi Coates has nailed the pacing for “Captain Of Nothing.” Even without big action sequences Coates progress things to the point that what happens in Captain America #8 have major consequences on several fronts. Through all that Coates is able to create a feeling that “Captain Of Nothing” will have large ramifications across the Marvel Universe.
One of the more impressive things about Captain America #8 is Coates strong understanding of continuity. Whether fans enjoyed or hated the Secret Empires event there is no denying how far the aftermath of that event continues to affect the Marvel Universe. The aftermath of Secret Empire needs to be explored properly in order to set things right for all those involved, especially Captain America.
Putting Steve in Wolfgang Von Strucker’s special super villain prison is an excellent way to show this to be the case. Positioning Von Strucker, a former long-time Hydra member, as the warden of this prison showed how Secret Empire threw so much off kilter. With this position we are able to watch how Von Strucker took his wicked energy and used it in different ways. And after how many stories he has been involved in this new status quo is something Von Strucker needed to freshen up his character and an antagonist the reader wants to see be taken down.
Positioning Wolfgang Von Strucker in this way put Steve in a much tougher spot. As Steve’s inner monologue throughout Captain America #8 showed, he can’t just be the inspiring leader he normally is. Whatever Steve does while he is locked up needs to be carefully strategize. One wrong move will only make his case even more difficult, especially with Von Strucker in charge.
This situation also created an opportunity to explore how many people still view Steve as the former Supreme Commander of Hydra. Even though it has been clearly established to the reader that the Captain Hydra version of Steve was not him that is not what people in the Marvel Universe know. He still has the same face as the guy who ruled over the world with an iron fist.
It all goes back to how Steve is still starting over with rebuilding who he is. If Steve truly wants to be the Captain America that defends and inspires everyone he needs to understand what he can do to improve himself. That means confronting his own faults and not passing the blame of what happened in the recent past on the excuse “my evil doppelganger was the Hydra Supreme Commander, not me.”
Having low-tier Marvel villains like Bulldozer and Piledriver confront Steve over this fact was a good way to put over this. Coates gave these lesser known villains a chance to shine while not losing their status as a villain. It was a reality check that Steve needed as he continues to recover from what happened when he was controlled by Captain Hydra. This all creates greater interest in Steve what he does next and what role all these prisoners in Myrmidon will play into those plans.
Along with all of this Coates seamlessly integrated the fact Wilson Fisk was elected as Mayor of New York City because of Secret Empire’s events into this story. That is something that has affected several comics, specifically Daredevil and Amazing Spider-Man. With how important New York City is to the Marvel Universe there is no way that Mayor Fisk can’t be involved in major storylines.
Coates identifies that fact and is able to use Fisk’s history with a good portion of the Marvel heroes and villains to heighten the drama around the current conspiracy involving General Ross’ murder. Coates does a fantastic job writing Fisk as a master manipulator how never lets go of his ground. Even when Sharon Carter turns things to her favor Fisk finds a way to still be in the power position. The way the entire meeting went down also progresses Fisk’s run in politics, further opening the possibility of him entering the Presidential race in the near future.
This scene with Mayor Fisk further elevated Sharon’s character with Coates putting over how badass she is. Seeing her never move an inch during the conversation with Fisk showed that Sharon is not going to be intimidated by anyone. She has done so much from her Agent Carter days to now that she knows exactly how to handle any situation she is in.
Through the course of this scene we never saw Sharon lose herself emotionally, even though Fisk was doing his best to push her buttons. She stayed even keeled the entire time and showed that she is more powerful than anyone thinks thanks to her connections and knowledge. Sharon forcing Fisk’s hand and making it so Fisk had to be so impressed he handed over the information she required showed how she is not messing around. She is a person on a mission to save Steve and uncover the conspiracy going on and no one is going to stop her.
The Captain Hydra Steve Rogers being taken out was a turn of events that was very much needed. The character still being around post-Secret Empire has been extremely problematic. He complicated a lot of things when Marvel is trying to put that disliked event in the past. But now in eliminating Captain Hydra Coates is able to move forward with rebuilding Hydra and whatever plans Alexa Lukin has without worrying about this character in the background. Hopefully it is truly the last we see of this character.
Adam Kubert was perfectly at home with Captain America #8. He delivers strong, grounded artwork that fits with the tone Coates is creating with this story. Even when their are some superhero elements like the way Selene fought Captain Hydra, Kubert never lost the grounded nature of Coates’ story. The artwork by Kuber added intensity to each scene, best shown in the meeting between Sharon Carter and Wilson Fisk. The tension in the air was palpable thanks to how Kubert drew the scene.
The Bad: The one missed opportunity in Captain America #8 was not having another notable villain from Captain America’s rogues gallery in the prison with Steve. Having a notable villain like Batroc the Leaper, Crossbones or Sin would’ve made the prison scenes even more intense. These villains past with Steve would’ve immediately added to how dangerous things are for Steve outside of Von Strucker being in charge. As “Captain Of Nothing” progresses having these types of secondary antagonists that are also tied to Captain America’s past will help make the story even more.
For newer readers this may not be the friendly issue to read. As I mentioned earlier, having villains like Bulldozer and Piledriver will have zero effect on new readers. These are such throwaway villains that even I had to look them up to remember who they were. Similarly, while it is great that Captain Hydra is gone, there was no build up to how impactful his end was. If you did not read Secret Empire, which is an event most Marvel fans want to forget ever happening, his loss will not hit the note it intended to.
Overall: Using all of the recent continuity established Ta-Nehisi Coates created a fascinating narrative for Captain America #8 to continue the “Captain Of Nothing” story arc. Not only has Coates put Steve in a dangerous spot, he has also opened up the opportunity for Sharon Carter to step up in a big way. There is no telling where “Captain Of Nothing” will go and that is extremely exciting. If you aren’t reading Captain America right now I highly recommend changing that immediately.
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