"Captain America" #2 is a heavy dose of crazy set one year into the future from the previous issue. The first issue of the series' Marvel NOW! relaunch showed us Rick Remender's take on the Sentinel of Liberty was going to be very different from what Ed Brubaker spent the last seven years doing. This issue jams down on the throttle and becomes intensely strange in landscape and tone. This issue will be a proving ground as the heavy science fiction elements will either drive audiences away or confirm their desire for a new direction on this title.
I really enjoyed the weird and wonderful scenes in this book but it almost feels like I'm enjoying it despite it being a Cap book. This isn't the Cap we've known for some time, this is a book with spider-wolves and mutates and twin suns rising over Dimension Z. I'm enjoying this for the bizarre romp Remender knows how to do so well. Could I be getting this in a creator-owned title? Yes, quite possibly I could. Is it nice to see Steve Rogers in this setting? Yes, but I worry I could just as easily do all of this without him. He is personally influencing things, and we are certainly situated in his head, but he doesn't feel like the major attraction right now.
It is a brave move to suddenly transport the story one year into the future. Cap has a beard, his companion has aged dramatically. Sadly, this companion is not really given any agency or characterization at all. They are a plot token to motivate our hero and then be used against him. In saying this, they are one hell of a narrative piece to be moved and Remender ends the issue superbly with his use of this person. It's a visceral gut punch that makes you flip back and forth to see if you truly hit the end.
The creative landscape of the issue is the star. It supports action sequences well but it just isn't enough to hold the issue together. This brave new world is a dangerous place to be in and so the stakes are high but the through line of the tale never quite ties together. Cap gets to show what a soldier he is and the enemies start off disposable and slowly rise to menacing so we get kinetic pulp fun which is sure to entertain.
John Romita Jr's art, with Klaus Janson on inks, brings a heavily Kirby-styled vibe to the creature designs and world building. Everything is blocky and this makes it feel foreign. Cap is in a confusing land and the art supports this with emotionless figures and jagged monsters. Dean White's colors bring a warped sense of strange to the panels as purple skies and green lasers come to life. He shifts drastically in tone for the Rogers flashbacks to the '20s.
"Captain America" #2 is a brave departure into new pulpy waters. This doesn't feel like a "Captain America" book anymore. This will brighten the days of some fans but others could be driven away. Readers must choose for themselves if they are willing to follow this character into this bold new genre. Cap is pushed to do new things but ultimately it is his character that still shines through in his decisions and actions. This is the start of an action filled run where anything can happen and I know I'm on board.