Thus ends this journey through time watching Captain America and HYDRA constantly struggle against each other. A narrative landscape that should have proved fruitful has instead yielded barren fields and spoiled fruit bloated with rotting stink. A shame, because the rotating artists should have been given more to play with instead of the same cycle each issue.
This issue comes off like an Avengers tale with most of the current Earth’s Mightiest crew represented on these pages. The team players represented might not all completely mix as we know it, but Maberry does a great job of writing the more flippant characters. There are funny moments but sadly they are buried between turgid slabs of text from the more respected members. For every line Maberry slots into Spidey’s mug with frivolity and fun he then jams words through Luke Cage’s talk-hole.
The ultimate narrative, wrapped here and throughout the entire series, has been thin and didn’t culminate anywhere special. The wheels spun so much the vehicle eventually thought it was travelling down. If that’s true then it reached its destination at the bottom.
The final discussion between Cap and the HYDRA ‘god’ is incredibly laborious and overwrought. It speaks as if it means so much but it’s mostly philosophical posturing that isn’t a fun or interesting way to anchor this tale at all. It may be that the dialogue is anachronous to all around it or simply that the lines aren’t that good. Either way, it’s not value for money.
Nolan does a fine job on art, much like you would expect from a fill-in artist on any Avengers title. You know who the characters are, they look the part, but you don’t exactly feel them. Anyone in the background is given the bare minimum of lines to still be comprehensible, and those in the foreground get enough attention to push the story forward, but not with style.
This final issue, and most of the series, is a wash. It’s doesn’t elevate the terrorist activities of HYDRA or the scale on which they operate. It also doesn’t swing for the bleachers, instead choosing to bunt with mediocre concepts and delivery. The warped ‘Kang’-style moment towards the end was the only bit trying to be a home run, and instead smashed the ball into the batter’s teeth (to stretch the metaphor to its limits). This book could have explored the history of a glorious organization, but instead chose to develop a tale that holds neither historical importance nor current relevance.