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A couple of weeks ago I decided to review some of the books that were given away in coordination with this year’s Free Comic Book Day event. Since I had so much fun doing that, I’ve decided to take a look at all of the comics given away this FCBD. Freeview is a new feature on this blog where I will look at these comic books. Books given away as part of this initiative are done so with the purpose of introducing new readers and driving them to the monthly books. It is with this in mind that I have structured the criticisms of them and will use that as the measuring stick. It’s also a way for me to be all judgemental about free comic books.

With this week’s theme being “Captain America”, this article features the Free Comic Book Edition of the new title, Captain America: Steve Rogers #1.

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Ok, so first off, I thought this book was titled Steve Rogers: Captain America like the old Peter Parker, Spider-Man title. Upon further investigation, I find that the actual title for this book is Captain America: Steve Rogers. If that’s the title, then put “Steve Rogers” under the “Captain America” on the cover. How hard is that? Do they think that old school Cap fans are going to pass this up since Falcon is the current Captain America? Yeah, Steve’s returning and you want to get the word out about that, but then why not title it Steve Rogers: Captain America? You know what else will let people know Steve is back? Big white guy on the cover. I’m not going to see this and think they whitewashed Sam Wilson. Whatever.

Good use of reflection on the new shield by the way. Showing the Hydra agents in it gets the point across of what this story is about. Where did they get a giant banner with the Red Skull’s mug on it by the way? I imagine they printed it off on to one of those giant rugs you can get at Wal-Mart with your picture on it.

Speaking of the new shield, I really like it. I’m not up on current Cap continuity, so I’m assuming he has this since Falcon-Cap still has the OG shield. It’s a nice design that stands out from the classic shield and evokes the original, golden age one. Not crazy about the black circle around the star since there’s no black on the American flag, but I’ll get over that.

The story of this issue is basically Cap fighting a re-formed Hydra and setting up the status quo of the new series. While Cap is fighting some Hydra goons, one of them grabs onto the end of his shield. Surprisingly, the bottom section of the shield comes off in the thug’s hands. Cap smoothly continues fighting and comes back to the thug with the shield section who is momentarily stunned by the shield coming apart. Steve defeats him and replaces the piece back onto the shield, completing it. Why this is a function of this new shield is a mystery to me. Other than the specific situation we were just shown, what is the use of this?  To me, this feels like when DC put “W’s” on Wonder Woman’s gauntlets during J. Michael Straczynski’s run that were supposed to put “W” indentations on her foes when she hit them. Some writer got an idea for a gimmick that they thought there was potential for and was never mentioned again and everyone forgot about it. Plus, it undermines the indestructible nature of Cap’s shield if it’s made to come apart.

During the same fight another new feature of the shield comes into play. When Rogers has to get information out of a Hydra agent, the point of the shield starts to glow white-hot. How Cap uses this on the agent is not shown, but the implication is that he tortured him or frightened him with it to get the information he needed.

Over the course of the story, Sharon Carter is shown in her role as a S.H.I.E.L.D. liaison, answering questions at a senate hearing about Cap’s actions against Hydra. Throughout the issue we are given information on Hydra and how they are this series’ logical stand in for modern terrorists in the real world. This is a great take on them and is great for a Captain America book. The last Captain America issue I picked up was the first issue of the Marvel Now volume. I’m never interested in Captain America when he’s mixed with sci-fi. Political stories are what makes the character great and he is really one of the only superheroes that can get away with them.

Sam Wilson Captain America is also shown with a new Falcon sidekick. This character seems to be some sort of bird-man and is new to me. I wasn’t even aware that there was a new Falcon since Wilson took over as Captain America. At the end Cap arrives at the hearing to tell his side of the story as three senators who are positioned like the “hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil, see-no-evil” monkeys, look on. Cap declares war on Hydra as the Red Skull and his lackeys look on.

I originally assumed that this was the first section of the first issue of this series, but instead it may be a separate introduction to the book. The story is written by Nick Spencer. Jesus Saiz is the artist and does the best work of his career here as far as I’m concerned. From the cover to the interior, this is the best I’ve seen him. If he can keep this up for the monthly that would be great and definitely a reason to pick up the book.

The backup is a feature for the new Amazing Spider-Man series. Does anyone know what volume this is of this book? With Marvel’s renumbering I have no idea anymore. Also, I’m not sure why the spider-emblem on his chest glows green. I know Alex Ross designed the new suit, but why not have it glow blue to align with the rest of the color scheme? It really makes the costume look like a poorly thought out action figure.

This story features several dead characters from Spider-Man’s world returning and sets up a storyline coming later in the fall. It’s not a bad story, but coming after such a strong intro with Cap, it really hurts it. If this would have been its own thing, it would have been  better off. There’s nothing wrong here with the backup written by Dan Slott and drawn by Javier Garron, it’s just weakened by comparison.

As far as being a Free Comic Book Day comic, this issue hits it out of the park. This is a really strong Cap story that intrigues me and makes me want to pick up the monthly. Captain America is strongest when he is dealing with political themes and that appears to be where this book is going. Even though I subscribe to Marvel Unlimited, and will be able to read these stories in 6 months time, I’m really tempted to pick it up when the physical issues come out. And isn’t that the true meaning of Free Comic Book Day?

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