In the lead up to the “Captain America” movie, the shelves must be flooded with plenty of stock featuring the star-spangled Avenger. That’s just the rule, so there’s no use complaining. This mini-series aims to look at the relationship between Cap and the terrible terrorist organisation HYDRA. It’s an interesting premise made more exciting by the fact a different artist will tackle each issue that looks at a different time frame of the struggle. This first issue brings us Sergio Cariello and a story from 1944
The tone of this piece feels like a wacky Saturday morning cartoon adaptation of an old “Weird Science”/”Two-Fisted War Tales” story, and I do mean that in some form of praise. There’s a strange flow to the logic of the occasion and the actions of the characters that makes it all feel like it’s not actually happening, we’re just being told about it. This makes the comic feel like it doesn’t completely matter too much but it also frees it up to just have fun, which it certainly does.
Maberry’s characterization is sweeping and relatively simplified. Cap comes across as a very vanilla hero whereas his teen sidekick is a manically over-the-top gun-wielding psychopath who just loves to light people up. It makes for an interesting duo, but not necessarily one I believe in. HYDRA are shown as the pinnacle of evil societies, and their leader is a textbook moustache twirling villain who spends more time in delivering exposition of his dastardly history and future plans than just getting on with the job. But him being that way seems in perfect service of the issue and its tone.
For a Captain America title, this really feels like more of a set up for a long form tale about HYDRA. Their history, motives, and abilities are being laid bare and will be interesting to track and chart over time as the series unfolds. I wonder if Jonathan Hickman was consulted at all. This could become very interesting if the way we see HYDRA presented is drastically different in each issue due to the time period. Them as bumbling hatchers of plans might be great for the 40s, but once the series gets closer to today they should become smarter and meaner, as should the tales around them.
Cariello infuses fun into all of his pages. There’s an overacted vibrancy to each page that brings the tone to the fore and makes this issue look as much fun as it feels. I also appreciated him sneaking the puzzle box from “Hellraiser” into one of the panels full of ancient artifacts. The colors from Sotomayor also help bring out the richness of Cariello’s art as well as highlight certain scenes for maximum effect.
“Captain America: Hail HYDRA!” is off to a very pleasing start. It’s not a great book, but it sets out to do completely what it wants to do. Where the tale goes from here will be the selling point. With the switching art team there is now the possibility for change in each issue in every area, hopefully Maberry will take full advantage of this. This is a fun comic, easy to digest, and a pleasure to enjoy. If you’re looking for some super-soldier shoot-’em-ups and the smarmy evil of HYDRA then this comic will sate your fun and action quota for the week.