by Spencer Irwin
This article will contain SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s take on Captain America is already drastically different from Nick Spencer’s that preceded it, doling out mostly episodic adventures in comparison to the one long story Spencer told, and focusing less on actual politics and more on the idea of Steve Rogers being a good and righteous man, and trying to inspire others to be the same. The return to simpler, more swashbuckling tales has been a nice palate cleanser, especially as readers reacquaint themselves to the original, non-Hydra version of Cap, but I’m hoping we get something a little more substantial sooner rather than later.
Fortunately, Captain America 697 is already a smart change-up of the series formula, foregoing the small-town adventures to instead place Steve in the cross-hairs of Kraven the Hunter, looking to hunt Cap as sport. Both Steve and Kraven seem to realize that this has been done before, which is why Kraven throws in Steve’s kryptonite — an innocent civilian he must guide and protect through their jungle trek. This ends up being a two-pronged attack on Steve’s morality on Kraven’s behalf — not only is Steve forced to go along with Kraven’s game in order to keep the man safe, but it turns out that the man is actually working for Kraven and looking for an opportunity to kill Steve himself. Both aspects are nothing less than an attack on Steve’s very goodness itself.
Steve, though, is smart enough to figure out that his companion is crooked long before it’s revealed to him (or readers). I wish Steve’s doubts had been clearer to readers, but I appreciate what this says about Steve as a person — he knew this man was evil, working against him, but continued to protect him anyway until he explicitly turned on him. Steve is just a genuinely good man, an inspiration, but that doesn’t make him a sucker.
Ultimately, the most enjoyable aspect of this issue may just be the chance it gives Samnee to bring to life Cap’s trek through the jungle, giving us a glorious fight against a leopard (and plenty of other action sequences) in Samnee’s typically smart and kinetic style.
I’m specifically fond of this sequence here, which uses the shape and layout of the panels to show the arc of Steve’s throw without the need for motion lines. This is typical of the thought and skill Samnee puts into all his work.
The issue closes on an intriguing cliffhanger, one that not only taps into Cap’s greatest fear, but which seems poised to set up a larger threat and an over-arcing story to this volume of Captain America. That may be just what this series needs to take its already-charming stories to the next level.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?