The “Winter in America” arc continues in CAPTAIN AMERICA #2. Steve Rogers’ life isn’t getting any easier. After dealing with a resurgent Hydra, there’s now a new organization working from the shadows to destroy America. But, try as Cap might to help, it seems the people don’t exactly want his aid anymore.

It’s easy to see the ramifications of SECRET EMPIRE on Steve Rogers’ life. This is a very different Captain America than we’ve seen before. Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates spares no energy getting this point across to the reader. As well, artist Leinil Francis Yu, inker Gerry Alanguilan, and colorist Sunny Gho continue to deliver terrific pages for us to look at.

However, as theme-heavy as CAPTAIN AMERICA #2 is, and as nice as the pages look, this issue feels very much like CAPTAIN AMERICA #1. The plot progresses very similarly — almost identically. I’m not sure whether this was done on purpose, coincidentally, or just because of laziness, but I hope it doesn’t persist.

A Man Without a Country in CAPTAIN AMERICA #1

A Lack of Trust in CAPTAIN AMERICA #2

CAPTAIN AMERICA #2 picks up, I assume, shortly after the events of CAPTAIN AMERICA #1. Yet another squad of Nuke soldiers is sent into the U.S. to wreak havoc, this time striking a meeting of government officials. Of course, Cap is there to stop them. As this fight ensues, Steve has some inner monologue about his peculiar predicament. Basically, he’s really ticked off with the world and the hand he’s been dealt. Frankly, I don’t blame him.

But, as if on cue, General Ross arrives on the scene shortly after the battle is finished to essentially tell Cap to piss off. Ross doesn’t cut any corners; he says, basically outright, that the people don’t trust Steve anymore. Furthermore, he says that people don’t really care for the “greatest generation” that Cap belongs to. All the people remember is Hydra.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #2 page 4. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

You can see why Steve is so upset.

Sharon Carter tries her best to talk some sense into Steve. She seems to always have a way of getting through to him. But, it seems Steve’s got some secrets of his own that he’s hiding from everyone. I’m not sure what to make of it just yet, but I get the feeling that it won’t be good when it finally comes to light.

Remembered For All The Wrong Things

CAPTAIN AMERICA #2 revolves around the issue of whether or not people can trust Captain America anymore, much like #1 did. After all, Hydra did rise to power on the back of a man who looked a lot like him. I still find this new plot thread to be very fascinating. Cap has had problems with his identity before, but this is all very different. It’s not just the matter of what the country and Cap himself stand for, but it’s also a matter of what it means to be a hero in a world where no one wants you around.

Things like this tend to come up more often with guys like Spider-Man or the X-Men, but never Captain America. Steve Rogers has always been the kind of character people look up to for hope and assurance that everything will be alright. Oh, how the times have changed. Now, people are genuinely afraid of the Star-Spangled Avenger, and the government wants nothing to do with him. Overall, I think this is still a great storyline thus far.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #2 page 11. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

However, where I find fault with CAPTAIN AMERICA #2 is that, if you really think about it, it’s the same story as #1. There’s very little difference, other than there are no direct scenes involving the leaders of the Power Elite. The story for this issue goes: Cap fights Nuke soldiers, has an argument with Ross, sulks for a bit, and the whole ends on a dramatic, ambiguous cliffhanger. Not that there’s anything wrong with a good cliffhanger, but the way this issue’s story is told could have used some work.

I have faith Ta-Nehisi Coates won’t make the same mistake twice, but this is definitely something to mark against CAPTAIN AMERICA #2.

An Artistic Tone to Match the Storytelling

The art for CAPTAIN AMERICA #2 is consistently fresh, thankfully. Back again on the artistic duties is the team of Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and Sunny Gho. I find I’m always in for a treat when reading a Leinil Yu book, and that definitely still stands with CAPTAIN AMERICA #2.

Yu strikes a good balance between grandiose action sequences and mellow, dramatic moments in this issue. Cap jumps onto the scene with an energetic flair, and he glides across the pages as he’s fighting the Nuke soldiers. This is followed by pages featuring a conversation between Cap and Ross, but the art makes this a bit more than a simple chat. The art alone for CAPTAIN AMERICA #2 tells a great story.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #2 page 14. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

However, Cap still seems to have some trouble not looking severely depressed all the time. I get that he’s in a bit of a slump lately, but come on. At least, if he’s fighting, couldn’t he grit his teeth a bit more? I’d also like to think Steve could stand to smile in Sharon’s company. She’s the one who keeps him afloat, after all.

Plus, I’m not sure if this is just something Yu has been doing more recently, but he seems to really like drawing characters either without eyes or with their eyes closed. Seriously, what’s that about? I understand putting a dramatic shadow effect over a character’s eyes, but that only works for certain scenes. Done too often, it loses its impact.

I don’t mean to come off like some grandiose art critic, but small things like this can weigh down a book, given time. Hopefully, Yu changes things up a bit more in the future so that we can avoid that problem.

Finding Yourself Lost in BLACK PANTHER #1

The Thing About Bargains

Along with the matters of trust, CAPTAIN AMERICA #2 focuses a bit on bargains at the end. Something about making deals seems like it might become pivotal to the story moving forward. This is related to the secret Steve seems to be keeping from everyone. As I mentioned earlier, whatever it is, I’m sure it’ll really shake things up moving forward. Things like this tend to have that effect, after all.

As CAPTAIN AMERICA #2 closes, I am, overall, left satisfied by this issue. Though the story layout seems to be reused from the previous issue, and the art has some flaws, this is still a solid continuation of the story. I feel like it’s been a while since we’ve really had a good chance to get inside Steve Rogers’ head. Like, is it just me, or does he not internally monologue that often?

This is an odd, almost dangerous new place that Steve finds himself in. And, as the Power Elite seem to grow stronger and stronger, what dark things loom over the horizon for Cap? Frankly, I’m not sure what I’m more interested in, this new threat, or the continued analyzation Cap’s identity.

So far, Coates and Yu have had a fairly solid go as the creative team on CAPTAIN AMERICA. I’m just hoping they manage to shake things up a bit more moving forward.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #2 by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and Sunny Gho
CAPTAIN AMERICA #2 seems to reuse the storytelling model from CAPTAIN AMERICA #1 a bit too much and definitely has a fair amount of artistic hiccups. However, it's still a solid continuation of this new chapter for Steve Rogers.
85 %
A Solid Continuation
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