2011 is almost over and, to celebrate, Marvel has lined up its shipping schedule to provide a triple dose of Captain America comics this week. It’s both an ending and a beginning with “Captain America” #5 concluding the opening story arc of the relaunched title before issue six can pick up where it left off and start a new story. That the beginning of the new story ships on the same day as the end of the previous one makes for a smooth transition and could blur the line between the two, except Ed Brubaker and Alan Davis make such a strong impression in this issue that it stands clearly on its own.
Not only are the ideological questions raised about the state of contemporary America weighing heavily on Steve Rogers in the opening of “Powerless,” so too is the experience of losing his powers at the hands of Codename: Bravo. Nightmares of reverting to his regular human self haunt Rogers, doubling his feelings of uncertainty. After being in such a strong position following his return from ‘the dead’ leading into “The Heroic Age,” Rogers finding himself at a low point now that he’s Captain America again is a surprising and intriguing move by Ed Brubaker.
When Rogers looks to the Avengers for support and possible answers regarding any chance of him losing his Super Soldier powers, Clint Barton provides a rather simple solution to Rogers’s lack of confidence: some good ol’ fashioned patrolling of New York. It’s the sort of thing that seems to work and has Rogers forgetting his problems until a riot breaks out and he comes face-to-face with a new Serpent Squad.
The riot scene recalls the first issue of “Fear Itself,” but plays out differently with there being no underlying motive beyond simple mind control/emotion influencing. In that regard, the scene falls a little flat. Since the rebuilt Hydra is attacking Rogers partly through his sense of patriotism, a riot engineered through technology undercuts that approach. At least in “Fear Itself” #1, the riot was caused by genuine outrage by citizens; here, it’s just another supervillain plot that dissipates once the machine is shut down.
Alan Davis joins the title this issue and immediately makes his mark with the new Queen Hydra. Brubaker writes her with bombast and a lot of ego, and Davis’ tendency to have characters ham it up a little is a perfect match. So is Cap and Hawkeye having a night out on the town, busting up some low-level crooks. Davis is so good at ‘classic’ superhero action. He gets the attitudes of the characters just right. When one of the crooks has some advanced tech, he absolutely nails a panel of Rogers looking serious and concerned, while Barton smirks, eager to track down the source of the tech.
“Captain America” #6 manages to follow up on the previous story and begin a new one in an entertaining and lively manner. The questions about the state of America take the back burner to Rogers’s concerns over his powers and Brubaker smartly calls back to the “Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier” mini-series he last year to add on the tension. There’s a strong sense of direction in this issue and Alan Davis joining the book on art is gravy.