The argument behind a dwindling “greatest generation” and a crumbling generation of boomers comes to blows through Rick Remender’s script in “Captain America” #14. Carlos Pacheco with inks by Mariano Taibo, coloring from Dean White and lettering by Joe Caramagna provides the visual impact for the conflagration between Cap and Nuke.
The third installment in Cap’s post-Dimension Z adventures, “Captain America” #14 opens with Cap and Nuke slugging it out. In nine pages of battle, the desperation Cap faces is evident as he tries to find a way to get through to Nuke. Remender keeps the cast lean throughout this comic book, only adding Falcon and a reporter through the first seventeen pages. The slugfest offers a chance for Remender to differentiate the philosophical approaches of Nuke and Cap, illustrate the difference in conflict style between Cap and Falcon and set up a catastrophic change in Cap’s future.
Remender’s investigation of philosophy and psychology regarding the long-standing duo of Captain America and Falcon is informative and revelatory. Both men are at a crossroads, albeit Falcon’s intersection is more a result of Cap’s personal trials. Without writing the dialog, Remender makes it quite clear that neither man is sure they know who the other really is. Captain America and Falcon are both broken in heart and spirit and their conflict with Nuke in Nrosvekistan accentuates their fragile states.
Carlos Pacheco delivers a straightforward, traditionally measured out comic book filled with rectangular panels and white space gutters in between. His characters are all vital and thoughtful, expressive and passionate. The violence on the barren snowscape is brutal and combines imagery that commands the pace and direction of the story. Although there are some artistic inconsistencies as Sam’s stomach wound is miraculously patched and then open once more, the art is clean and strong. The art in “Captain America” #14 isn’t quite been the bombastic artwork from Pacheco that I’ve come to expect since his “Avengers Forever” days, but the rougher grittiness works for this adventure that is filled with uncertainty, self-doubt and discomfort. Dean White adds sketchy lines overtop the colors to augment the uneasiness inherent in the story of two star-spangled soldiers scrapping.
This book has been clawing its way upward in my reading stack and “Captain America” #14 makes another lunge up the pile. Remender has found threads to tug on and is beginning the process of unraveling pieces of Captain America’s life yet again. The developments in this issue ensure that there is nothing resembling smooth sailing ahead for the sentinel of liberty. “Captain America” #14 is a statement issue encapsulating the vibe and spirit of Remender’s run to date, but makes it quite clear that nothing is sacred or off-limits. This is leading to a fight Cap isn’t ready to fight and how he handles that will define Captain America for the All-New Marvel NOW! era.