Narrative Efficiency in Captain America 704

by Drew Baumgartner

Captain America 704

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Superhero stories are high-concept endeavors. Beyond the origin of the hero’s powers and commitment to justice, there are villains and supporting characters that might require just as much explanation. Monthly comics tend to smooth this over by taking our knowledge of those high concepts for granted, cramming all of that exposition into a logline on the cover page in order to make room for actual action. It’s a popular solution, so ubiquitous that explaining it in this way feels almost unnecessary. But then we encounter those superhero stories — perhaps it’s a miniseries with a new character or an alternate universe — that have to fit that logline into the story itself, forcing us to recognize just how much explaining really is necessary in the genre. Captain America 704 is one such story, catching us up with (and ultimately thwarting) a multi-generational plan and addressing some long-standing Cap mythology.

And to be clear, while I’m definitely aware of how much exposition is crammed into this issue, it never feels overstuffed or overly complicated. Indeed, I’d argue that the density and complexity of ideas in this issue made it a propulsive read, keeping my attention as it hopped from big concept to big concept. This requires efficiency and clarity from the creative team, and fortunately, Mark Waid and Leonardo Romero are more than up to the task. The big-reveal nature of this issue demands that Jack Rogers spout Holmesian monologues explaining what’s going on, but Waid keeps those monologues trim and to the point. It helps that “trim and to the point” is Romero’s stock-in-trade. The montage nature of this issue demands a lot of scene-to-scene transitions, but Romero’s choices of moment always perfectly distill those scenes down to just an image or two.


It’s a much more compressed story than we’re used to getting in a superhero monthly, demanding much more efficiency from the creative team. Waid and Romero pull it off beautifully here, offering an ending to their futuristic storyline that never lets up.

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