In Secret Empire, a fascist version of Steve Rogers took over the United States. Though the real Steve Rogers returned in time to defeat his evil double, how much would the average American believe that? It sounds nutty.
That’s actually the central idea behind writer Ta-Nehisi Coates’ new Captain America series, with the first volume subtitled Winter in America.
Captain America is back on the job. However, his latest set of problems are a lot more personal. Someone is making veterans of the Hydra War into Nukes. These Nukes speak in simple sentences, are nearly mindless, and apparently burn out quickly. Likewise, someone is using these guys to gun down innocent Americans. Who is behind them? SHIELD is no more, and someone has to fill the void. That would be Thunderbolt Ross, and he doesn’t want Cap’s help. He wants Sharon “Agent 13” Carter’s help instead.
What is going on? Well, without saying too much, let’s say Coates gets political. He looks into rural economic depression, Russian interference, and a feeling that higher elements of the American government are out of touch or working against American interests. Steve’s big enemy here is a Russian woman, widow of another Russian Sharon killed in an earlier run, and that woman has help. Some come from longstanding Marvel books, and not always Captain America comics. Others, well, that may be surprising. Her goal seems to be to bring down Steve because that would at least symbolically also bring down America.
Coates seems to have come a long way since he started writing comics with Black Panther. I like the Panther stuff I have read; however, there is a sense he’s not quite comfortable with the medium. I’d say he’s a lot closer now, and hey, there’s even a Panther guest shot. Plus, Marvel either waited until he had six issues for the trade or he’s gotten faster at turning out scripts. Either way, there’s a lot of good stuff going on here, and Steve’s problems are only just beginning.
Then again, I don’t think I’ve ever been much of a fan of artist Leinil Francis Yu. The end result for this volume is fine, and I hope to get a bit more in the future. Then again, I’ve said the same thing about Coates’ Black Panther, and I am bit behind on that one.
8.5 out of 10 X-Men foes just hanging around.