Following the release of "Captain America" #600 on Monday (or Wednesday, if your local comics vendor wasn't privy to the Monday delivery) and the announcement of the return of Steve Rogers (sorry if that spoiled it for you, but you may want to look for a new rock to live under) the "Young Allies 70th Anniversary Special" continues Marvel's celebration of seven decades of comics publishing. Roger Stern writes the lead story, revisiting a legend he has some familiarity with, but writing a new voice under the mantle of Captain America.
Set as a flashback, this issue gives Stern a chance to write the Bucky-Cap in present day and have him reflect upon the adventures of yesteryear. We are re-introduced to the Sentinels of Liberty youth group -– Pat "Knuckles" O'Toole, Washington "Wash" Carver Jones, Geoffrey Worthington Vandergill, and Henry "Hank" Tinkelbaum –- and also get Bucky's thoughts on his first meeting with Toro.
Bucky's reflections on his past are given resolution in the present. The story of the Sentinels of Liberty youth group is given a final chapter, one that allows the current Captain America a chance to reflect on his past, and draw strength from that to focus on his future.
Stern, as always, brings a nice balance of character and action. Stern includes bit roles for the Red Skull as well as Captain America and the original Human Torch, giving Paolo Rivera a chance to have some fun on the art side of things.
Rivera's art feels like captured stills from an old serial film. His art is clean and tight, his characters are vibrant and lifelike and his knack for backgrounds and detail (both when to and not to use it) make this book an absolute visual treasure. The overall feel of Rivera's art is akin to Michael Lark's work on "Legend of the Hawkman" from the 1990s. Check out the preview pages to see some of Rivera's marvelous work.
As with all of the Marvel 70th Anniversary Specials, this issue offers some reprinted material. Included here are a pair of text stories penned by Stan Lee in the form of "The Young Allies Deal a Blow for Justice" and "Captain America & the Bomb Sight Thieves" both from "Captain America Comics" issues originally published in 1941. Also included in "Terry Vance, School Boy Sleuth" from Marvel Mystery Comics #14 in 1940.
While the price tag is a little steep, especially for the range of "bonus material" included, the main story is enjoyable and definitely worth a read. Judging by the entries on his blog, it looks like this may not be the last time we see a Captain America-related story drawn by Paolo Rivera. Hopefully the same can be said for Roger Stern.