Captain America #2 // Review
Ta-Nehisi Coates tackles themes of masculinity, mass shootings, and military service in
Captain America #2. An introspective issue, the action supplied is sparse, with the dynamic art provided by Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and Sunny Gho taking a backseat to Steve Rogers’ ruminations on America’s current state of affairs, and his role therein.
Over the course of the issue, Captain America foils another in a line of attempted mass shootings perpetrated by cybernetic clones of the flag-faced villain, Nuke, only to be reprimanded by General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross for cavalierly acting without U.S. Government sanction. Steve discerns this rebuke as indicative of the absence of trust America now has in him, and finds similar levels of distrust in his paramour, Sharon Carter.
Rogers’ internal reflections throughout Captain America #2 not only broach repercussions of his Hydra doppelganger’s takeover of the country during the “Secret Empire” storyline, but also touch upon pervasive societal topics like toxic masculinity and its motivating role in the pursuit of strength and power. In these musings, Rogers admits culpability in the degradation of American society, conceding that the “imposter” who wore his face and committed unspeakable acts of evil, plunging America into a fascist dictatorial regime, represented a very real aspect of his wants and desires, repressed as they may have been. This mirrors the rise of Trumpism in the America of Earth-1218, which similarly grew out of a dark, misguided desire by much of the populace to be “strong again,” regardless of what was compromised in the process. The layers of distrust shown towards Captain America similarly showcase modern America’s current sense of disillusionment, with Rogers’ quandary of “Do I even trust myself?” being a notably poignant introspection.
Leinil Francis Yu and his collaborators, Color Artist Sunny Gho and Inker Gerry Alanguilan, provide consistently exceptional art this issue, with a highlight being seen early on in a high-powered splash page showcasing Nuke clones mid-assault. Another notable inclusion comes near the issue’s close, where Steve Rogers is shown boxing against a holographic copy of himself. The artists’ ability to perfectly mirror the two opponents elevates the scene, helping illustrate how what’s being conveyed is not simply Steve Rogers training against a simulation, but instead Captain America internally combating his shade, fighting against the darker elements of who he is in an existential battle akin to that which America itself is currently fighting.
While the plot progression in Captain America #2 is nominal, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ contemplative writing gives Steve Rogers immense depth, engages the reader, and sets the stage for an intrigue-filled dive into the conglomeration of the mysterious and nefarious Power Elite in the next issue.