The opening page of Nomad didn’t fill me with hope. Although I have a soft spot for the Heroes Reborn era, Rob Liefeld’s character designs weren’t the high point — so when the first images in the series are of Liefeld’s versions of Captain America and Rikki “Bucky” Barnes, complete with distorted perspective and dubious anatomy, my heart sank.
Mercifully, things got a lot better very quickly. Although Brubaker did bring Bucky back into the Captain America fold in issue #600, McKeever is the one tasked with parlaying guest appearance into workable concept — and so it is that we find Rikki Barnes, the girl without a world, hoping to hook back up with Captain America. Or at least, what passes for him these days.
However, whether Bucky-Cap taking on a sidekick isn’t just unlikely, it’s also a story for the pages of Captain America, not a spin-off mini. After skirting around the matter of Cap, things rapidly get back to Bucky’s situation. By the end of the issue, she’s acquired a supporting cast, some villains, and a new identity — one which should be no surprise to anyone who’s read the title of the comic.
David Baldeon pencils, and his version of Barnes is appropriately fresh-faced, without being too chirpy for someone who’s seen what Barnes has. Bucky’s rooftop movements seem particularly well-choreographed, and the high-school scenes are packed with detail and characters, but some of the more standard superheroic moments come across a little stiff. Even so, the artwork is generally very good, and if Baldeon sustains this level of quality throughout the series it should eventually make a nice-looking collection.
Although the idea of a high-school superhero outsider has the potential to become a weak Early “Buffy”/”Veronica Mars””/”Ultimate Spider-Man clone, McKeever manages to side-step that. There’s a focus on politics and espionage that mirrors the tone of Brubaker’s Cap, if not the scale of it — we’re talking student politics, rather than national ones.
Because of this, anyone who picks up Nomad hoping for a new piece to Brubaker’s intricate Captain America mythos might be put off, because this is virtually stand-alone material. It’s done very well, but whether its audience will find it is another matter. For that reason alone, it’s worth giving it a try — whether you’re a Cap fan or not.