by Ryan Mogge
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
The central conflict of Captain America: Sam Wilson 23 is not between the Avengers and the Mole Man. Instead, it’s a reverberation of the themes that Nick Spencer has been exploring throughout the series’ run. Sam Wilson is a hero because he believes in helping people. His work begins at a human level, functioning as part of a community. By contrast, the Avengers present a plan to save the world. Their goal to rescue Steve Rogers using the cosmic cube could alter the course of human history.
While Sam agrees to help them, he is forced to abandon the work that brought him out of his self-imposed isolation. His underground subway system has saved lives and kept families together. The mere fact that he has been willing to pay tribute to Mole Man is only further evidence of his commitment to helping, despite personal distaste.
Sam’s attitude about the dreadnoughts reflects his general strategy with insurmountable obstacles: rather than trying to beat them, you try to escape them. However, now that he is faced with a chance to help on that macro level, he feels compelled to help the Avengers.
The bickering between Tony and Sam illustrates their very different perspectives on the role of a hero in a time of darkness. Sam expresses frustration that the team hindered his ability to help the refugees. At the same time, Tony sees Sam’s off-the-grid lifestyle as hiding out. Neither is wrong per se, but Spencer has educated us enough about Sam’s inner life to understand that he wasn’t sitting out the fight. He was helping people. Just seeing him with little Dandelion you know that he has been improving lives, offering hope and providing comfort. That’s all anyone can ask. I guess, unless there are cosmic cube fragments to collect.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?