“Captain America” #615.1 succeeds in providing potential new readers with a good idea of what a typical issue of “Captain America” is like, albeit one somewhat divorced from the current stories. There’s no direct follow-up on “The Trial of Captain America,” which concluded in issue 614, besides someone new stepping up to fill the role of Captain America now that James Barnes is being extradited to Russia. The only problem is that the new Captain America doesn’t have the approval of the U.S. government or Steve Rogers.
David Rickford is an ex-special forces soldier that receives a physical power boost from some mysterious men and seems to have pure intentions, simply wanting to fill a void that he thinks his country needs. Steve Rogers doesn’t see it that way, always protective of the Captain America mantle, mindful of how it has affected others in the past that couldn’t handle it. There’s also a level of personal attachment to the identity that ties heavily into the swerve at the end of the issue with someone relying upon Rogers' inability to let go of ‘Captain America’ in the coming months.
What’s striking is how well this issue fits into the current “Captain America” series and stands apart. It’s a clear response to what happened to Barnes in “The Trial of Captain America” and, at the same time, doesn’t require that you know anything about it beyond that Steve Rogers is currently ‘America’s top law-enforcement operative’ (as the recap page puts it) and no one is Captain America. That doesn’t stop Ed Brubaker from writing an issue that fits seamlessly into his run, continuing to explore the idea of what exactly Captain America is, what that costume and identity represents, and who is fit to inhabit it.
With Mitch and Bettie Breitweiser on art, the issue also looks like your typical “Captain America” issue, both having done work on the title recently and working in the same style as regular artist Butch Guice. It’s a style that uses a lot of heavy blacks and suggestive line work while maintaining a stunning clarity. Often, the art leaves a larger impression than the details would suggest, partly because of the line work and, partly, because Mitch Breitweiser is very good at staging his shots. He picks shots that will immediately hit you, choosing dynamic angles and posing characters just right.
The coloring manages to match the darker tone of the line work and not become mired in harsh browns. It’s like a toned down version of the bright four-colored superhero comic palette. There’s a subtlety to the colors that helps shape the tone and mood of pages without overwhelming the line art. It complements and enhances like good coloring should.
If you haven’t been reading “Captain America,” this ‘point 1’ issue is as good a place to start with Ed Brubaker and the Breitweisers delivering an easy entry point that provides a good idea of what the title is normally like, while also dropping some references to some of the larger stories Brubaker is working on for regular readers. The final page, in particular, is one that regular readers shouldn’t miss and seems like will be key in the title’s future.