Right now the comic book world is littered with comebacks and rebirths, with probaly Batman #50 being the biggest one. Though, a close second may be the return of Steve Rogers as Captain America, marking the end of his time as ‘Old Man Rogers, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ And having both Bruce Wayne and Steve Rogers return to their old identities is crucial, not only because it makes their comics better, but the teams they are involved with a hell of a lot more interesting.
Captain America: Sam Wilson #8 follows the three most important men to ever carry the shield: Rogers, Sam Wilson, and Bucky Barnes. Having both Sam and Bucky there for the transition back to younger Rogers was a smart choice by writer Nick Spencer. The three of them together is delightful. They have great chemistry as a trio and have all had very different experiences as Captain America. Sam Wilson’s run may not have been as epic or memorable Bucky’s, but it has recently started picking up steam. I have a feeling there are some great Cap stories around the corner now that Rogers is restored as much younger man.
The story in Captain America: Sam Wilson #8 is the continuing arc of the “Pleasant Hill” crossover, which has been up and down but for the most part a lot of fun. This is the last issue before the big event’s finale, which seems to be coming too quickly. The main problems holding back “Pleasant Hill” has been so many events and developments that weren’t given enough time to breath. For instance, the concept behind the cosmic cube entity powering a prison where villains are tricked into being small town citizens is brilliant, and had there been more time allowed to explore the set up, maybe the events that followed would carry more weight.
Regardless, the story overall has been a pretty fun ride. The tea party trap that Kraven sets for Kobik is legitimately hilarious, mostly because it’s Kraven. The end of the issue sets up the action-packed finale as the Avengers show up to help foil Zemo’s plot and bail Maria Hill out of her terrible idea.
Everybody is looking for Kobik, the cosmic cube in the form of a little girl and who restored Steve to his youthful, super soldier self. Baron Zemo has sent his thugs – now led by Kraven The Hunter – searching for her, while “My Three Caps” begin their search as well. Along the way our heroes encounter some of the chaos scattered throughout Pleasant Hill, as Steve gets used to being powerful again. Yet the biggest problem with this issue is that all of the minor characters, both hero and villain, have almost no identity. It’s a handful of Captain Americas, Zemo and his B-Squad compatriots, then a bunch of G.I. Joe-looking nobodies.
Other than the lazy design of the background characters, there is a ton to appreciate in this issue visually. Paul Renaud did wonders for Steve Roger’s transformation and he really looks ready to hand out some justice. A stand out panel is the first shot of Steve Rogers sitting on a bench holding the shield as he processes what is happening, I really enjoyed that.
The amount of emotion and character Zemo communicates from under a hood is impressive, and it looks like he was a ton of fun to draw. Every panel in this book is easy to digest, nothing distracting readers away from the intended point of focus. One critique would be the lack of change to Bucky’s facial expression, it’s almost exactly the same in every panel beginning to end. A stand out panel is the first shot of Steve Rogers sitting on a bench holding the shield as he processes what is happening, I really enjoyed that.
Nick Spencer does a fine job keeping things interesting within the guidelines of this crossover event, while also tackling a significant character’s return to form. I cannot wait to see how the other heroes react to Steve being back as Captain America and how he fits into the world again. And for that reason alone, this issue is well worth the read.