Current Reviews


Captain America #9

Posted: Monday, February 17, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell

Writers: John Ney Rieber & Chuck Austen
Artists: Trevor Hairsine (p), Danny Miki & Allen Martinez (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

The book opens with Inali Redpath standing over the body of the psychotic Barricade who he has just killed with his power to control the weather, and we see this murder has Captain America knocking aside the hand of friendship that Redpath offers him. We then see Captain America focus his attention on getting the children on the school bus away from the area, and after he accomplishes this task, he then turns back to Redpath, who is busy explaining that his new goal in life in to make America pay for the way it has subjected the Native American to countless indignities & false promises. We then see Captain America is hammered into the ground repeatedly by severe wind gusts, and after he is battered senseless, he has an unknown liquid poured down his throat, that Redpath claims will help him see the truth about his beloved America. We then see Redpath heads off to use his weather controlling abilities to trigger a massive storm front, that he claims will wipe the city of Miami off the map. The issue then ends with Captain America leaping into the middle of this storm front, where he begins to feel the hallucinatory effects of the liquid he was given, and the visions appear to be his greatest enemies come to life.

I'm starting to get the very real sense that this book simply doesn't understand how to deliver a debate, as I enter these issues rather excited about the idea we have two characters bringing conflicting ideologies to the table, and yet when the moment comes for the characters to hash out their differences, the debate suddenly becomes a one-sided rant. I mean, the idea of a native going to war against America for the injustices committed against his people when European settlers descended upon the new world, is an interesting idea, but having Captain America standing mute while Redpath delivers his big speech, and then utterly failing to deliver any response from the good captain after Redpath has made his position clear tells me one of two things. One, the writers feel that the message itself is so powerful that having Captain America offer up any kind of rebuttal is completely unnecessary. Then there's the second choice which I think is more likely, and that is that the writers simply couldn't think of any arguments that Captain America could make that would equal the intensity of Redpath's commentary so they simply decided to reduce the Captain to the level of a low level thug, who lets his fists do the talking.

I will say that Captain America is one of the only books that can get away with effectively singing the praises of its hero as busies himself with a heroic action. Now part of it is due to the fact that Captain America doesn't really have any superpowers that give him a physical edge over his opponents. What he does have however is a strong belief that no matter what the challenge he faces, in the end it is Captain America who will get to put the check mark in the win column. So when he faces down the trio of armed thugs and orders them to get the children off the battlefield you know the writers have clearly understood that Captain America is the only character who could make this moment work. There's also the moments where one is impressed by the sheer courage of the character, as we see him make a valiant effort to get on board the departing helicopter, and when he dives into the heart of the storm with his parachute, it's clear the writing has tapped into a key element of the character. I also have to say that I was rather impressed by the level of power that Redpath looks to command, as we see Captain America isn't able to effectively combat the various attacks that Redpath uses against him.

This looks to be Trevor Hairsine's final issue, which is a bit of a disappointment consider there's still two chapters to go in this arc, and the natural assumption I had made is that he would provide the art for the entire arc. However, I guess it simply wasn't meant to be, and one can simply look on the bright side that we'll be getting two extra issues from Jae Lee. In any event, the art is quite impressive, as Trevor Hairsine does bring a level of detail to the book that is nicely in keeping with the work of John Cassaday. The action is certainly effective, as when Captain America is getting blasted repeatedly by Redpath's wind attack, the art makes it quite easy to see how outclassed our hero is. The scene where Captain America makes his grab for the departing helicopter is also quite impressive, as the look of determination on his face is utterly convincing. The same goes for the scene where he busy getting ready to dive out into the storm, and the scene where he's sent crashing into the cliff face looks quite painful. I also have to say that the final page of this issue is a surprisingly effective visual, as while I know it's not real, it still does a great job of making me want to pick up the next issue. The cover to this issue does an equally effective job of this.

Final Word:
The art has become this book's main saving grace, as right from issue one of the relaunch under the Marvel Knight banner, the art has been absolutely amazing. Where this book falls flat is with it's uninspired writing, as Captain America has never been a terribly deep, or introspective character, so more than any of the big heroes at Marvel, he is dependent on the writers to craft interesting threats for him to face, and highly intense moral quandaries to test his pie in the sky ideals. On the first count the threats have ranged from outright pitiful, to mildly engaging. On the second count, the writing has been an even bigger disappointment, as the moral dilemmas are incredibly one-sided, and Captain America's responses have been far too simplistic. From the we didn't know we were committing evil, to this issue's "I am sick of people trashing this country", it's almost like Captain America's an action figure with a pull string on his back, that reduces his reactions to a half dozen unrelated responses.

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