Comics of any stripe have always been a mirror into which society peers. Even when they were squarely aimed at children, it didn’t take much to see what they were really trying to say to a wider audience, and that continues to be true today. This issue opens with a brief flashback of Sam Wilson overhearing a rather verbose criticism of his new role as Captain America and while it could come off as ham-fisted, the sad truth is that with a lot of the rhetoric that gets thrown around, it’s actually one of the more civil versions of the critique. This is actually a great indicator that Rick Remender has not only heard these points, but hasn’t merely dismissed them out of hand. They’re dismissed, don’t mistake, but they’re dismissed in a way that attacks the argument rather than the arguer as we flash back forward to Wilson’s struggle against Zemo. And just when all hope seems lost, we get perhaps the most unexpected return of them all AND a display of Cap’s powers used to an extent they never had been before. Much like Aquaman, there’s an impetus for Wilson to prove himself and prove that his powers are more than just the punchline to every “lame superpowers” list. We also get an absolute emotional punch to the gut by issue’s end and the notion that things just became a great deal more personal for the man formerly known as the Falcon.
Stuart Immonen continues to be an absolute force on pencils, giving us action that feels more like we’re blinking in the midst of a very brutal fight than a series of still images on paper. The blocking is especially impressive and gives both a sense of place and flow to the events as well as grounding what is a very fantastical story with a dense, emotional core that keeps things relatable. Another massive factor in that are the inks of Wade Von Grawbadger, which calcify Immonen’s visuals into a cohesive, coherent and massively impactful issue. The use of shadows in particular makes the issue feel both vibrant and grim, making sure it never descends into being overly dark, and the colors of Marte Gracia are a huge part of it. There’s a depth to his palette that makes it suited for a diverse tone of books, and this issue in particular goes through a LOT of tonal shifts, all of them organic.
There are couple of times when it feels like Cap needs to get his priorities more in line with the immediacy of certain situations. It got him in trouble last issue and it gets him in trouble again in this issue in the exact same way.
We also get a storyline extension in the form of a contingency plan that, quite frankly, sounds like it either should have been the initial plan or at least a PART of the initial plan, making it feel a bit tacked on.
It’s hard to believe this is only issue 5 as this story, and the characters in it, already feel so developed and evolved. Remender’s done a fantastic job of writing memorable, stand-out moments and characters and the artists have rendered them fantastically as well, and this issue’s no exception. The plotline veers into coincidence and luck a little more than is probably healthy, but that hardly ruins what has been an intense, roughneck, deeply satisfying issue.