Winter in America was written by Ta-Neishi Coates, pencilled by Leinil Francis Yu, inked by Gerry Alanguilan and Leinil Francis Yu. The letterers were Joe Caramagna and Cory Petit, and it collects Captain America (2018) #1-6, with material from Avengers/ Captain America Free Comic Book Day 2018.
Previously in Captain America…
Marvel sums it up pretty nicely so… “HYDRA conquered the United States. Following a leader with Steve Rogers’ face. Captain America returned. HYDRA fell so the war is over… right?”
A Man Out of Time
Steve has always been a man out of time, but it’s more than that now, he’s a man who represents an America that no longer exists. This doesn’t just put pressure on Steve but on the whole concept of Captain America, something I’ll talk about in a little bit, but first let’s focus on Steve as a character. Steve Rogers has always been a little dry, there’s not getting around that rigid moral compass, but this Steve was extra dry.
We did get to glimpses of pre-serum Steve as he uses his back-alley brawling against one of the villains, and you defiantly get the “throw your shield first, ask questions later” attitude. Also, the writer clearly tried to give us a bit of characterisation through his relationships with Bucky and Sharon, the first of which was slightly more successful, but just ended up missing the mark. Sorry Steve, but ya’ boring.
But where did the plot go?
The form of the comic book is in itself limiting as you only have a couple of pages to tell a story, and a couple of issues to develop it. I can’t even begin to imagine how you go about pacing your plot, and the writers apparently couldn’t either because it was all over the place.
The story started off in the wrong place with Steve going up against these “American” action men, and nothing seems to make sense. In fact, it takes until the mid-point of the novel for the plot to get interesting, and even then, this first incident does very little than provide some distraction. When the real plot gets going it does have some really fun twists, but more than that it is chock full of exposition. If the villain didn’t literally go through, step-by-step, what she had done the reader would not have had a clue what was going on.
There were some tropes, like “save the girl” that I just thought we were kind of done with, but apparently I was wrong. I also have to, very quickly, mention this piece of god-awful dialogue, because I have never seen anything so lazy
I know that I’ve been really harsh, and I promise that it wasn’t an awful plot, but it very obviously favourite discussion of certain themes over the plot. This may change in future issues, and if it does I will be over the moon, because there’s so much potential, particularly with the way the end played out.
One of the themes that really struck me, so much so that I want to draw your attention to it, is this whole idea of trust. The aftermath of the previous comics has obviously left a big stain on Cap, but that’s not the only depiction. Steve himself muses over how you can no longer trust other people, where he would once take them at their word, again emphasising the different between 1940s America and 2018 America. There are also secrets being kept between some of the characters, ones that could have a pretty explosive outcome. Trust within society is also a hot topic, coming off the back of police brutality, and scheming politicians it seems that even those we trust with authority are not exempt.
“Captain of Nothing”
So, how does good ol’ Captain America represent a country that no longer follows the same ideals as the 1940s version? Well, to be blunt he doesn’t. Rather than represent America, whose ideals don’t gel with Steve’s intrinsic, and let’s face it, sometimes annoying, goodness. There’s a lot of realty good discussion about the changes seen in America over the past eighty years, and what this country no represents. This is a great way to really question the core of Cap’s values, as a man who’s spent so much time wearing the flag, finds himself questioning his own moral compass. The age of the hero is over, and Cap has to find a way to fit into this new way of life and establish a new identity. However as he still clings to the final vestiges of Captain America, how long can he last?
The court of public opinion
Cap is more than happy to take on dictators and madmen but there’s one hurdle he can’t quite ignore and that’s the public. Like lots of superheroes he’s always there to defend those who can’t, and that’s why I think the court of public opinion is so important to him. In this book he struggles against fake news, and disastrous PR left over from the whole HYDRA uses cap’s face debacle. Seems these things aren’t so quickly forgotten. HYDRA have always had Nazi connections and I thought American support for this party was so interesting. Not necessarily because Nazism seems to be on the rise again, but also because of the parallels this and Hitler’s own rise to power in 1935 Germany. The government is not helping these people, so the look elsewhere, they look for someone who will, and that someone just so happened to be HYDRA.
The influence of the media is so important in gaining the support of the public and it’s really interesting to see how they’re covering his antics. By divorcing Cap from the government, and making him a free agent, they’re relinquishing responsibility meaning that Cap’s actions are now solely his own. I think it will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Where the hell is Bucky?
This isn’t technically important, but as Bucky’s no.1 girl I just wanted to mention him real quickly. Bucky is here at the beginning and then end which was fine. I always want more Bucky, but I know that it’s not his story, so all things considered the fact that we did get a little recap of his story was definitely a win. Thank you!
So, all in all there were some super rintersting discussions regarding the core themes, but the plot really suffered as a result. What about you? Have you read this, and if so what did you think? Do you have a favourite Captain America storyline?