On the Panel – Captain America
The title of this issue makes me laugh: “Who is the New Captain America?” isn’t going to be a surprise to most people given that Marvel has been marketing Sam Wilson aka Falcon wielding the shield for a few weeks now. It seems to be a time of huge changes in Marvel comics at the moment with a new Thor, a new Captain America, something happening to Iron Man that reverts him to the days prior to his character development, a genius level Hulk and a dead Wolverine.
Gone are the days of surprise reveals in comics with everything marketed incessantly months in advance. If you have a passing interest in these things and access to the internet then chances are you’ll find out what is coming. I’m no marketing expert so don’t really know how any of this works so maybe revealing everything is simply what has to be done in order to create buzz around certain comics so that people will actually buy them. It does seem a stark contrast to, say The Night Gwen Stacy Died which nobody saw coming. There have been other pivotal events in comics that weren’t telegraphed ahead of time.
Anyway, here we have the -not so- surprise reveal of the new Captain America in this issue. The issue opens with something of a eulogy to Sam Wilson who appeard to heroically sacrifice himself in order to stop a bomb killing lots of people. Perhaps this eulogy is meant to make people reconsider whether Marvel’s marketing was correcy but it’s more likely a ploy to remind the readers of how noble a man Sam Wilson is. The narration is provided by aged Captain America Steve Rogers who has nothing but high praise for Sam so it can basically be taken as the former Cap giving Sam his blessing to take on his mantle.
Surprising no one is the fact that he’s not dead and the moment is played nicely for laughs. I was actually reminded of Tony Stark’s death fakeout in The Avengers movie with how it seemed to be stages. People stand around Sam’s apparent corpse talking about how great he was and then he wakes up revealing that he heard everything and adding a few more complimentary statements for good measure. This lightens the mood considerably even showing Tony Stark trying to take credit for saving the day since he was the one who designed Sam’s Vibranium wings that absorbed most of the blast. It’s a funny moment that lets us see the lighter side of these characters amidst all the darkness and drama that has been common in the Marvel universe of late. Though I do wonder when this was set as Steve Rogers was Captain America during Original Sin and those events caused Thor to become unworthy of his hammer. Since Thor appears here holding his hammer I’m a little confused as to where this fits in but that doesn’t really hurt the story.
A large part of the issue involves a meeting of The Avengers that includes Spider-Man, Hawkeye, Hulk, Vision, She-Hulk, Iron Man and many others. The meeting seems like a bit of a disorganised mess with most of the costumed heroes standing around bickering about who ate all the snacks and making fun of the various definitions of sense of humour as well as some jabs at Hawkeye’s rogues gallery. Again, it’s funny stuff and it’s good to see these characters interact this way since it’s been rare to have a friendly atmosphere between these characters lately. Something feels almost old school about it so I hope we’ll see more of this in the times ahead.
The purpose of the meeting is for Steve Rogers to announce to everyone that he can no longer function as Captain America but he will still serve in a leadership capacity with Avengers Mansion being his base of operations. He unveils that his replacement will be Sam Wilson who almost talks to the reader when he says that everyone already knew and there is no drama left in the reveal. I like that the reveal was played with the appropriate amount of tongue in cheek since there’s no point in pretending that it’s a surprise to anyone. The handing over of Cap’s shield is appropriately iconic and definitely seems like a passing of the torch moment.
This was a nice character focused issue that clearly gives the reasons Sam Wilson is worthy of being Captain America. A lot of focus is on the lighter side of the characters featured and how they relate to each other which I enjoyed as I feel it has been a bit lacking in Marvel comics lately. Sam’s reveal as the new Captain America is appropriately meta as well as being iconic. I look forward to reading Sam’s adventures in this role.