Captain America: Steve Rogers #16

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SteveRogers16-minConsidering that this thirty-page periodical is undoubtedly the premier precursor to “Marvel Comics” 2017 limited series event “Secret Empire”, “in which Captain America has been transformed into a sleeper agent loyal to Hydra and has been covertly setting the stage to establish Hydra as the main world-power”, the vast majority of its 37,366-strong audience must surely have felt ‘betrayed’ by its contents’ creative shoddiness. It’s certainly hard to imagine a worse gestalt of a comic than Nick Spencer’s collection of choppy, poorly thought-out sub-plots, which amongst its more startling elements includes the ludicrous return of Steve Roger’s murdered mother after twenty years, and its ‘mishmash’ of arguably lower tier artistic talents such as Kevin Libranda, Yildiray Cinar and Jon Malin…

Foremost of the problems to Issue Sixteen of “Captain America: Steve Rogers” is that this title has primarily focused upon the Sentinel of Liberty’s distasteful transformation by Kobik since its first sensationally contentious issue, and yet suddenly, without any warning whatsoever, the two-time Cincinnati City Council candidate astoundingly has the Cosmic Cube “shattered” ‘off-screen’ and this publication’s readers must scratch around for scraps as to what happened from Baron Zemo’s contemplative musings on the matter; Forgive my impatience, Fixer… Perhaps it is because I watched your miscalculations send the fragments we’d worked so hard to retrieve miles away, lost to us across the Arctic!”

To make matters worse, “Secret Empire: Opening Salvo” also suddenly depicts Doctor Erik Selvig as a disobedient servant, whose heart-strings have apparently been pulled on by the “adorable little rug rat” Kobik, and resultantly sends his fragmentised “little girl… far from here” whilst he commits suicide within his laboratory. Just why the Danish scientist has become so infatuated with the square-shaped matrix’s human form is admittedly somewhat understandable, considering that he is “one of the leading experts in Cosmic Cubes” and had “became its caretaker.” But such a deeply emotional tie to the ‘child’ has never debatably been alluded to within Spencer’s narrative before, and definitely not with such strength as to suggest the former S.H.I.E.L.D. consultant would be willing to die rather than destroy her sentience.

Sadly, none of these irregularities are helped by this comic’s constant carousel of illustrators, especially Jon Malin’s Thunderbolt-themed contributions, in which he coarsely pencils the demise of Bucky Barnes whilst strapped to a “perfect replica” of the missile which killed Zemo’s father during the Second World War. Fortunately, there is a modicum of entertainment to be gleaned from Kevin Libranda’s impressive, subtly-coloured treatment of Steve Rogers’ return to London in 1945. However these sequences never last longer than three pages and completely disappear from view half-way through the book.

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3

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For the past forty or so years I have been collecting American comics… To begin with they were predominantly black and white British reprints of “Marvel Comics Group” titles such as “Spider-Man Comics Weekly”, “The Mighty World of Marvel” and “Star Wars Weekly”; all six to ten pence editions I could store away under my bed in a large cardboard box. As a result though I was introduced to the teenage angst of Peter Parker, the discovery of a frozen Captain America by Earth's Mightiest Heroes, witnessed the dreadful rage of Doctor Bruce Banner, and even travelled to a galaxy far far away... Later I would be able to afford actual America colour comic books and supplemented my collection of “Marvel” titles such as “Conan the Barbarian”, “Howard the Duck” and “Captain America” with some “DC Comics” issues of “Batman”, “Green Lantern” and “Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew”. There would even be time for Independent publications such as “Wildcats”, “Spawn” and “The Authority”. These days however I must admit to yearning back to the simpler times of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, back to when both artwork and storylines were straightforward, easy to follow and super-heroes were just starting out on their adventures. A time when no-one had yet to be resurrected from the dead for the fourth time. I've written over seven hundred comic book reviews on my blog over the past few years, with them usually following my latest purchases, all wrapped up in a large brown paper bag, as well as occasional ‘flashbacks’ to some of the classic "Golden Age" issues I already own…

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