“Steve Rogers was America’s first Super-Soldier – Captain America – and he’s fought for his country since World War II. Now a face from the past reappears, a woman that cannot be alive because Steve watched her die! Steve has fought for so long, and lost so much — is his past coming back to haunt him now? Or could this be the plot of an old enemy who controls nearly everything he touches, including Steve’s mind?”
In my review of Brubaker’s Captain America, Volume 1, I noted: “Despite my devotion to [Steve Rogers], I do understand that I may not actually enjoy all of the story arcs he is at the heart of or, for that matter, every graphic novel he turns up in.” Yeah, well. About that…I suspect that claim may not be true; that I may, in fact, be hardwired to enjoy every graphic novel featuring Steve Rogers that I get my hands on. Because Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier was not an exception. I enjoyed the story’s trajectory, even if I did trip over a piece (or two) of information that I had not before been privy to, and Dale Eaglesham’s art knocked my socks off.
Several twists propel this story to its ultimately unresolved ending – Volume two? You’re not too far off, are you? I mean, Brubaker waving goodbye to Cap isn’t going to affect your release, is it? *tries not to panic* – which means, of course, that I need to tread carefully. And that means that I’ll be steering clear of dissecting the plot until its details show. Basically, I can give you the following two (long, because that’s the way I like ‘em) sentences: Informed of the allegedly successful recreation of the serum that transformed him, Steve heads to Madripoor to track down a man with a startling connection to his past, hoping to talk some sense into him before he can sell the serum to the highest bidder. Should that plan fail, Steve will do whatever it takes in order to keep it from falling into the wrong hands, including confronting ghosts from his past and revisiting an old heartache.
More succinctly put: Feels everywhere, folks. Everywhere.
I’ve mostly shaken off my clumsy, prone to toe-stubbing lack of knowledge when it comes to the Avengers’ history and backstories. (That is not to say that I know everything. Far from it. But I’m passing familiar with enough of it to see me through.) So I’m reading, reading, and then all of a sudden *thud* – Down I go, tripping over an old flame of Steve’s that seemingly came out of nowhere. *splutters* Her backstory - their backstory – packs a wallop, which I most certainly would not have forgotten had I encountered a mention of it before. Really, this can only mean one thing: I must seek out and read even more Captain America/Steve Rogers graphic novels. (I can hear you, you know. And, no, it’s not like I needed an actual excuse to do just that, but it’s always nice when an obsession is given a reason to thrive. Who is this woman
and how dare she curl up so close to Steve?)
Er, and the villain! (The main one. The in-your-face one.) I’ll keep his name under wraps, but that – along with a handful of facts picked up while reading an Avengers character guide – was about all I knew in regards to him. I had no contextual sense for what type of threat he posed, when he may have tangled with Steve – or any of the others – in the past, etc. As a result, he came off as rather…silly. I was far more interested in the people pulling the strings, who were only just briefly revealed – to an extent – when the volume came to a close. (Curse you, unresolved ending! Double curse you if volume two is not imminent!)
Bottom line on the story: It was solid and engaging and helped along immensely by its reliance on Steve’s inner narrative.
Now. Dale Eaglesham’s art.
I’d like to note, before going further, that the cover was not his doing. That credit goes to Carlos Pacheco, Tim Townsend and Frank D’Armata. And while I don’t mind the cover illustration, it’s not, in my opinion, nearly as whoa and hot damn as Eaglesham’s interior art. At the risk of sounding superficial, Steve Rogers has rarely been drawn so…so…[insert appreciative fangirl sigh here].
Ever since he took up the shield on screen, Chris Evans is Steve Rogers in my mind. When I picture the character, it’s his outrageously attractive face that takes shape. That said, when I’m able to blank his image and concentrate on my own idea and sense of what comic!Steve looks like…it’s eerily similar to how Eaglesham portrays him here. And that’s going beyond his appearance to Steve’s physicality, on wondrous display in this book, and to his grace, poise, determination and skill in a fight, all of which also comes through in spades. Just look at that image on the right. It has badass written all over it.
Setting aside the fact that Steve as drawn here is aesthetically pleasing (understatement), Eaglesham imbued so much emotion in his art. Steve’s story – and I’m referring to before he became Captain America here – tugs at me mercilessly. Couple Steve’s thoughts on his youth with panels like the ones below, and…I’m left a mess of feelings. This isn’t the only instance in which Eaglesham’s art stripped Steve bare (figuratively, alas), but these images are lasting, and they elevated this entire graphic novel to…something more. Which is why I’ll be buying my own copy shortly.