With the “Captain America” title currently occupied by James “Bucky” Buchanan, the newly-returned Steve Rogers has had been in need of a title to call his own. For the moment, at least, he’s got this, “Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier,” by Ed Brubaker and Dale Eaglesham.
Whether or not “Super Soldier” is Rogers’ new codename (and I’m not sure on that point) it is interesting to note that the title does have more relevance to the story than that, since it involves someone’s latest attempt to recreate the Super-Soldier Formula that gave Cap his powers. As you might expect, it’s not quite that straight forward. The story is a mixture of genres, part-superhero, part-spy, but far more Bond-esque than the straight-up espionage that Brubaker has previously employed in the Cap titles.
Brubaker, of course, was the natural choice to take on this series, having repeatedly shown himself to be one of the definitive Captain America writers over the last few years. Eaglesham, however, was perhaps a less obvious choice of creator, although it’s immediately clear that he has been perfectly cast. Eaglesham’s version of Rogers is a square-jawed, corn-fed 1940s action hero, and his portrayal of a man fighting in peak physical condition is near-perfect. With no fancy powers to fall back on, the action scenes must be defined by their choreography, and Eaglesham pulls it off beautifully.
The story does a good recap of Cap’s origin, although the backstory of Erskine comes over a little too complicated at times, while on a purely logistical level I find it hard to believe that someone as famous as Steve Rogers could openly walk around a party so soon after a public return from the dead. It pushes my suspension of disbelief to the limit, only succeeding because, well, if Clark Kent can hide in plain sight using only a pair of glasses, I suppose Steve Rogers can with only a tuxedo.
Other than that, it’s an enjoyable, fast-paced read and one that seems to embody the spirit of the Heroic Age. It’s hard to articulate just how good it is to read a series starring an Avenger that doesn’t even mention Norman Osborn, or Skrulls, or the SHRA. In all honesty, it feels like a bit of a novelty as a result. Whether read as a complement to the existing Avengers titles, or as a stand-alone story, there’s plenty here to keep Steve Rogers fans entertained and give him some time in the spotlight to find out who he really is, if not Captain America.