Captain America #701 // Review
Captain America #701 opens a new arc focusing on the legacy of Steve Rogers. Writer Mark Waid, artist Leonardo Romero, and colorist Matthew Wilson, as well as some guest artists, tell the story of Captain America’s Great-Great-Grandson, Jack Rogers, a historian in America’s far flung utopian future. In this timeline, Dr. Erskine’s Super Soldier Serum was extracted from Steve Rogers’ corpse, and used like a vaccine to benefit all of American society, eradicating diseases and prolonging lives. However, Jack’s son, Steve, was infirmed after introduction to the serum, with his body rejecting the formula and breaking down his DNA as a result. Seeking access to the formula’s development records, for the sake of his son, Jack travels to the White House, where he uncovers a vast government conspiracy.
Employing guest artists Adam Hughes and J.G. Jones, Waid accompanies Jack’s primary plot with two brief tangential tales of Captain America set in 1944 and 1968, respectfully; representing the titular hero’s only appearances in the issue. These seemingly non-sequitur stories mark the issue’s highlights, with Hughes and Jones playfully illustrating campy asides featuring classic characters Warrior Woman and Doctor Faustus. Adam Hughes brings the nightmare of WWII to life with dark imagery and an emphasis on structural dilapidation, but contrasts the dour setting with overly expressive characters, dynamic onomatopoeia lettering, and his signature cheesecake style.
In turn, J.G. Jones leans into the late Sixties setting of his contribution, employing psychedelic imagery, vivid colors (courtesy of color artist Paul Mounts), and Kirby-like device designs. Principal artist Leonardo Romero does an amicable job in pushing the plot, composing a ‘by the numbers’ futuristic world, complete with flying cars, holograms, and a chrome-plated veneer. His simplistic, old-school artistic style is similar to predecessor, Chris Samnee’s, and pairs well with continuing colorist Matthew Wilson’s ever masterful work, allowing for a smooth transition between arcs, and an easily accessible narrative.
Flashbacks aside, the pacing of the plot is stringently linear, with little to no obstacles often facing its progress. For example, when Jack is unable to obtain the information he seeks, he is told to go to the White House for answers. Two pages later, Jack walks right into the Oval Office and speaks with the President like they’re old friends, because conveniently, in this time period, historians are held in high regard. Not only straightforward, the plot is also boorishly stale. Uninspired and predictable, nothing new or insightful is offered in either the setting, the plot, or the characters’ predicaments. With a story seemingly lifted from old sci-fi dime novels, the characters are similarly pulpy and one-dimensional, eliciting no emotional responses from readers and existing only as devices to forward the plot.
Shifting from dystopian to utopian futures, Mark Waid seems either unwilling or unable to write a contemporary Captain America story beyond his initial two issues on the book. While the “man out of time” aspect of the character of Steve Rogers is essential, its emphasis in Waid’s writing leaves his stories inconsequential and devoid of character development. By placing the entirety of his final Captain America arc in a disposable future timeline, absent of the protagonist, Waid is signaling that his remaining issues are nothing more than fluff meant to fill pages until Ta-Nehisi Coates takes the reigns and soft-reboots the series in July.