Captain America #700 Review
Concluding the “Out of Time” story arc, Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s Captain America #700 offers little in regards to celebratory fanfare or narrative depth. The landmark issue neither carouses nor contemplates the character of Captain America, and serves solely to bring to close the most cursory of comic tales.
Working in conjunction with Kraven the Hunter, the villainous organization, Rampart, succeeded in once again cryogenically freezing Steve Rogers, back in issue #697. Awakened in the year 2025, Rogers learned that, shortly after he was put on ice, Rampart had orchestrated a false flag nuclear incident on American soil, called “The Forty Minute War.” In a short span of time, hundreds of nuclear warheads went off across the country, reducing the population by nine-tenths, destroying America’s democracy, and eradicating all superheroes except for Bruce Banner and Ben Grimm. Control of the government was quickly usurped by head of Rampart, Maximillian Babbington, known better in this future realm as King Baby. Once revived, Captain America quickly joined resistance forces, took down King Baby’s empire, and commandeered control of the country.
At the onset of issue #700, Bruce Banner reveals that he was able to reconstitute one of Reed Richards’ old time machines out of parts salvaged by Ben Grimm. He says the machine has only one charge, and he wants to use it to send Cap back in time to prevent The Forty Minute War from occurring. Citing the erratic nature of time travel, and general uncertainty, Cap rejects Banner’s proposition, and focuses further on fixing the broken future in which he resides.
Several pages later, Steve changes his mind when America is struck by yet another atomic bomb. Sent back in time to mere moments before he last was frozen in ice, Cap sees his earlier self encapsulated, then acts to prevent Rampart from launching a missile from their nuclear submarine. Heroically, Steve sacrifices himself, detonating the missile as it rises to exit the sub, mirroring a pivotal action from his past which resulted in his initial cryogenesis. The explosion cracks open the freshly frozen other Captain America’s cold confinement, and he emerges from the ice completely unaware of the events that have taken place, wrapping up the time travel elements in a nice bow, but rendering the entire plot pointless and irrelevant.
During his tenure on Captain America, Mark Waid has portrayed the patriot in a very archetypal format, and paired this persona with a storytelling structure that evokes a streamlined, simplistic, Silver-Age feel. Chris Samnee’s use of bold lines and heavy shadow perpetuates this perspective, and pairs well with color artist Matthew Wilson’s muted palate, particularly when used to make the colors of Cap’s costume pop. While elements of this old-school style Captain America are certainly enjoyable, the hurried speech and plotting brings the pulp to the forefront and diminishes any attempts at relevance or purpose purported through Waid’s liberal peppering of topical buzzwords.
Traditionally, comic book milestones, such as reaching a new centennial in issues, are marked in a celebratory fashion; typically with multiple creators contributing short stories to an oversized retrospective on the character(s), as similarly seen with the fanfare DC Comics has created for Action Comics #1000. In honor of Captain America’s 700th issue, Mark Waid attempted to write a new story over old Jack Kirby Captain America artwork (With recoloring done wonderfully by Wilson.) The results were cringe-worthy, with the ham-fisted dialogue, in particular, being notably egregious. The insipid storyline is borderline nonsensical, and seems indicative of the vapidity Waid seems to prefer in his Captain America plots. While meant to mirror Jack Kirby’s narrative style, it comes off closer to mockery.
Captain America #700 completes a mildly fun, but instantly forgettable, hackneyed time travel tale, before trampling giddily over Jack Kirby’s contributions in a manner more parody than homage.