Comic Book Review – Captain America #4 (Marvel Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

This week I’m reviewing Captain America #4 (or #708 with Legacy numbering), written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, with pencils by Leinil Francis Yu, inks by Gerry Alanguilan, colours by Sunny Cho and letters from VC’s Joe Caramagna, with cover art by Alex Ross.

Cover art by Alex Ross

Steve Rogers is still trying to make up for what was done in his name, and with his face, when Hydra took over the United States. He’s lost the trust of his government and the American people, and is now rushing to the aid of Sharon Carter, Agent 13, who has been working with the government and has been captured during her latest mission. Cap goes in alone, tearing his way through a base full of goons before coming up against an opponent who’s battle abilities rival his own. Meanwhile Sharon is questioned and tortured by members of the mysterious Power Elite, the next group who are looking to take over the US!

Coates’ run so far on Captain America has been thrilling, and in this issue he shows off a deep and clear understanding of the character, as Cap narrates over his fights. See Cap is an idealist, and truly believes in America and the ideals it should stand for. It’s why he is the Captain of it. But his issue increasingly lies with people who call themselves patriots but act like nothing but, people who “swear by the flag one day, and set it on fire the next”. Even without a familiarity with Coates’ non-fiction writings (with which you should get acquainted), it’s difficult not to see the commentary here on the current climate in the United States. The plot here is good, and it’s ties some of the best Cap stories in the past 20 years is a big plus, but it’s the characterisation of Steve Rogers this commentary that makes the book shine. More is being done and said with the aftermath of Secret Empire here and with a more deft hand than in the event itself.

Art by Yu, Alanguilan, Cho and Caramagna

Yu’s Cap is fierce with a real sense of power. For such an action-heavy issue, nothing drags and it feels kinetic and brutal. At the same time, the interrogation scenes with Sharon are dark and ominous, allowing the threat level in both scenes to come through very strongly. The colours are slightly washed out and dulled, which suits the tone and the base environs of the issue.

Coates and Yu’s Captain America is my favourite book on the stands right now, and goes to the top of my reading pile whenever it comes out. The art is strong and the plot and character musings are incredibly timely. Don’t sleep on this. Pick it up at your LCS, and the first 3 issues if you haven’t already read them!

Comic Review – Black Panther #3 (Marvel Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: Minor spoilers.

“It is time that flesh bow down on his knee again.” Tetu

Black Panther 3

Cover art by Stelfreeze & Martin

This week I was faced with an interesting choice of comics to review. You’ll see a lot online talking about Captain America: Steve Rogers #2, and no new series caught my eye. Fortunately, one comic stood out to me out of the regular bunch I was due to pick out this week: Black Panther #3, written by Ta-Neshi Coates, art by Brian Stelfreeze and colours by Laura Martin.

The issue picks up from Tetu’s point of view. He’s the leader of the Nigandan army who earlier in this arc incited a riot in Wakanda. He feels T’Challa (Black Panther) has been neglecting his duties and his traditional routes. He sees himself as the spirit of Africa and T’Challa as all that is wrong in the modern world. The comic proudly portrays the spiritual connection in African traditions, backed up by vibrant colours. T’Challa is struggling with his duties as leader of a country, he fights for the world and his country, in the meantime there are so many other fires he doesn’t have the time to put out. There are a few plot threads at play here, and although separate they each feel important to the overarching narrative.

Black Panther 3 interiors

Art by Stelfreeze & Martin

As for the art, Stelfreeze has produced something special here. So many individual panels stand out as miniature masterpieces and somehow makes the scene somehow feel like it’s all a part of something much larger, complementing the narrative. The desert scenes in particular at the beginning and end stand out for me.

On a side note, I feel I need to spend more time taking the art into account in my reviews. I have already discussed the main aspects of it for Black Panther #3, however what I need to make this meaningful is a consistent point of comparison across everything I review. Fortunately there is a classic test to measure the skill of an artist. Can they draw hands? So, here goes –

Can Stelfreeze draw hands? Yes. Yes he can. I was surprised when I took the time to look, not that they looked good (the rest of the art had already confirmed Stelfreeze’s skill as an artist) but at how well he was able to capture the personality and gesture of each character in their hands in every scene. The gesture communicates both the character as a person and what their currently saying. So yes, 10/10 for hand drawing skills!

(Editor’s note: I’m expecting Kit to review the hand drawing abilities of artists in all his reviews from now on)

Final Verdict

Black Panther is one of the series I look forward to every time it comes out. Yes this is issue 3, but it’s probably the best so far in the current run. I seriously recommend picking up issue #1 and catching up if you aren’t up to date already.

Score: 9.5 War Dogs out of 10