Page 45 Review by Stephen
"That's the problem with having people you care for, isn't it? Love is such a liability."
As frazzling, dazzling and fast-paced as this is, it's essentially a book about family, just like Remender's subaquatic sci-fi, LOW. If the theme of LOW is maintaining hope in the wake of overwhelming adversity, the lesson here is about not only looking out for your own family's future but for others' as well, even down to the specific threat faced which I will not be spoiling for you.
We'll get to all that in a second, but in the meantime: Stuart Immonen.
Immonen is one of those rare comic artists like Mark Buckingham and Bryan Talbot who is a true chameleon, able to adapt his style to suit his subject, and quite radically so. Rarer still, he operates both within and without the superhero subgenre.
In RUSSIAN OLIVE TO RED KING written by his wife Kathryn, Stuart used colour not only to convey light and temperature but also sound. When attending Kurt Busiek's SECRET IDENTITY scenario of what might happen in the real world if a Superman was discovered by the C.I.A., he produced exquisite, photo-realistic landscapes and forms which even when floating conveyed a physical weight.
Illustrating Warren Ellis' bombastic, mischievous, pugilistic pageantry of the absurd in NEXTWAVE Immonen reduced the sort of neo-classical, visceral thrill you'll relish here to comedic cartoons. And on Bendis' original run on ALL NEW X-MEN Stuart proved he could separate the lither forms of teenagers from their older antagonists.
Here the all-but-opening double-page spread is an immaculate composition of speed, perspective, foreshortening, shadow and light. Its G-Force is utterly thrilling.
With Steve Rogers now semi-retired, aged closer to what he would be without the aid of his anti-agapic Supersoldier Serum, the mantle of Captain America has not been passed to Steve's adopted son Ian but to his long-standing friend and former partner in crime-fighting, Sam Wilson AKA the Falcon.
"Really makes you wonder why I wasn't the one he picked."
"Cronyism beats nepotism, I guess."
At an early age Sam lost his father, a minister revered throughout Harlem, when the preacher was gunned down while trying to calm down a fight. Soon after his mother too died, leaving Sam to raise his sister alone. His younger sister's since had two beautiful children, whereas Sam's been too busy helping others - both as a social worker and a superhero - to start a family of his own. Now that opportunity make be taken away from him for good, not by standing in for Steve Rogers but by what happens here.
Neo-Nazi Baron Zemo, son of the original, has acquired a young man whose blood has very specific properties and which will be dispersed throughout the globe in multiple locations using diverse methods of deployment. Many of them are highly inventive. To make our new Captain's desperate attempt to stop this disaster from detonating all over the planet, Zemo has surrounded himself with some of Steve Rogers' most formidable foes, now made even more effective by Remender's ability to instil them with real wit and intelligence. The repartee from the first familiar super-villain who has always been the one-dimensional, stereotypical brunt of a certain degree of xenophobia here gives as good as he gets in America's direction, and it's not off the mark.
There is no let up. Everything happens so fast that Sam's interior monologue is but a series of snap-shot impressions: he's given no opportunity for analysis or consideration - no evaluation of what he's been presented with by enemy and ally alike. So don't take everyone at face value like Sam.
Finally, a sermon of sorts from Sam's mother before she passed away, after her husband was gone, and Sam is left wondering what would have happened if only his Dad had kept his mouth shut and not intervened:
"Sam, if we only looked out for our own families, if every person only worried about and cared for themselves... what kind of a word would this be?
"If we stop trying to help other people, we give up everything. And sometimes this has a price."
I completely agree.
Wait, did she mean the price came with stop trying, or trying?
Sometimes I'm afraid that it's both.