With a well-publicized trailer for a second feature film recently released, "Captain America" #16.NOW, written by Rick Remender with art by Pascal Alixe, flies in the face of convention by benching the star-spangled super solider and devotes an entire issue to Jet Black, the daughter of Arnim Zola and refugee from Dimension Z. Amazingly enough, it all seems like a great choice.
Throughout the "Loose Nuke" storyline, Captain America moped about, dragging down everyone around him and further miring his own self-esteem as he struggled against a dark reflection of the man he could have become while he tries to find himself. After that battle, Rogers is shown sulking in his gloomy Brooklyn studio, trying to once more determine his place in a world that seems so strange to him. With the apparent destruction of the Grand Canyon-based S.H.I.E.L.D. Hub in "Captain America" #15, Remender offers no shortage of action coming up. This issue fits nicely in the spots in between plot and subplot; after all, Jet was not present in "Captain America" #15, which gives Remender the depth to take stock in this issue and to zoom in on the offspring of one of Cap's most persistent foes. While Jet Black appears to be a Jack Kirby-inspired addition to the mythology surrounding Captain America, Remender leaves readers wondering what they've read when the final page of "Captain America" #16.NOW is turned.
In "Captain America" #16.NOW, the writer continues to shake things up around Cap, elevating the unpredictability of this title without directly affecting the good Captain. Jet Black is considered an ally, but Remender calls her true allegiance into question. Furthermore, Remender, through the character of Tsar Sultan, calls Jet out on her outfit, a weird extreme bondage get-up with a body stocking. It's a mildly humorous bit that displays Remender's awareness of his characters and his ability to continue constructing absurdities around the heroic pillar of the Marvel Universe.
Pascal Alixe supplies some gorgeous art that is equal parts Kirby and Jerry Bingham. Stunning as a tribute and unashamed to celebrate the bizarre world Jet Black finds herself in, Alixe's art shows no reserve, giving Jet plenty of opportunity to explore the details of New York and reflect on her heritage. Alixe's work appears to be produced from pencils, propelling texture forward and absorbing the colors provided by Edgar Delgado, Antonio Fabela and Israel Silva. The trio of colorists does a remarkable job holding the story together and sharing their palette. Letterer Joe Caramagna's work is as solid as always, fitting into the story without distracting while enhancing at all the right moments.
While it is in the best interest of Marvel's marketing to include their major motion picture star characters in their own titles, "Captain America" #16.NOW is a fine, enjoyable comic book, despite the missing super soldier. Stalwart Cap fans might feel slighted and that is certainly within their prerogative, but if they give "Captain America" #16.NOW a chance, they'll find a real good comic story.