Generally speaking, I’d have called “Captain America” #603 a fairly standard comic. It’s got a solid enough basis for a plot, it’s drawn well, but for the most part it doesn’t particularly stand out in my mind afterwards. That’s actually an oddity for an issue of “Captain America” as written by Ed Brubaker, whose stories are normally a lot more attention-grabbing.
It could be that as part 2 of 4, this issue is more concerned with setting up the second half of the story, which is why as an individual unit it didn’t stand out to me. Aside from the last page, there’s almost nothing new we learn this issue that we didn’t already know at the end of “Captain America” #602. But whatever the reason, most of the issue feels slightly flat.
There’s an exception in the writing, though, and that’s first two pages of the book. Focusing on the 1950s Captain America as he rides a bus from New York to Idaho, his reflection on the world today and how it doesn’t match up with the world he remembers is a sad moment. Getting to see what makes him tick lets you realize that while the 1950s Captain America is crazy and going about all of his goals the wrong way, that he does genuinely care about the country and is actually trying to be the good guy. His grieving for the era he grew up in is slightly depressing; it’s a place and time he can never return to, and his goal of replicating it now is something that he’ll never succeed at. His methods are villainous and wrong, but in the depths of his insanity is a desperate plea to somehow get home.
Luke Ross and Butch Guice do a good job as always on the art, and I’m sorry to see Ross leaving after this story. Still, Guice becoming the regular artist on the book is a good choice, one that will keep the artistic chain moving forward. I like the look that Ross has maintained on Captain America, a realistic series of visuals on a super-hero comic. The montages he draws reminds me of scenes in old-fashioned movies, and when the 1950s Cap smiles it’s absolutely chilling. Ross had big shoes to fill when Steve Epting left, but he’s done a fine job of carving out his own run on the title.
On the whole, though, the book didn’t quite wow me. Not even another “Nomad” back-up story by Sean McKeever and David Baldeon managed to stand out (although I don’t remember Baldeon drawing characters with such large heads before); this is in many ways an absolute middle of the road book. Still, I’ll take that over a bad or disappointing one any day of the week. But I do hope that next month’s “Captain America” has a little more of a spark to it.