“Captain America” #11 by Rick Remender and Carlos Pacheco is a bridge between Cap’s 10-issue “Dimension Z” storyline and whatever comes next. This sort of decompression issue used to be popular following long arcs, and although the focus on trade collections has caused them to fall out of favor with writers and editors, it’s good to get an issue that can properly explore the impact a story has had on a character before barrelling into whatever comes next.
In this case, the impact on Cap has been considerable. Not only does he struggle to adjust to life outside Zola’s world, he’s also dealing with some huge losses: both Agent Carter and Ian. That said, “dealing” is perhaps the wrong word, because the opposite is true: he’s actively avoiding it. It’s probably not the healthiest reaction — the instinct is to say that he’s repressing and that’s bad — but perhaps the character can take it. In one sense, he’s actually just following the advice he was given by his dying mother: moving past the grief, rather than wallowing in it. It’ll be interesting to see whether stoicism is enough as Remender’s run continues.
Although Remender has a strong idea of the story he wants to tell about moving on and preparing for a new, different life, the execution does feel a little stop-start. Some of the issue is flashback to Cap’s childhood, some is a dissection of Cap’s recent adventures, and two other sequences involve Zola’s granddaughter matching wits with Nick Fury and another re-introduces Nuke, presumably ahead of the series’ next storyline. There’s a good idea in here, but with a little more focus it could’ve been a great one-shot. As it currently is, it feels like it’s being interrupted by its own subplots.
Carlos Pacheco’s performs art duties for the issue, but without trying to be glib, it’s sort of hard to tell. Janson’s inking style is incredibly bold and that seems to overwhelm Pacheco’s own strengths. It’s always hard to attribute work to any one member of a creative team, but here it certainly looks as though Janson has determined the book’s appearance more than anyone else. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — it’s an interesting change of style and does, at least, look more like Romita’s issues — but those looking for art by the Pacheco who drew “Ultimates” or “Uncanny X-Men” are unlikely to find it.
Remender’s work on “Captain America” has been tonally strong since day one, and issue #11 is a reminder of exactly how good his grasp of the character is. It’s a take quite unlike Brubaker’s, but still entirely valid. The decision he makes at the end of this issue is haunting and pensive, and feels like something Brubaker’s Cap would never have done. That Remender makes it work is proof that following a critically acclaimed run isn’t always a poisoned chalice.