Writers: Tochi Onyebuchi, Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly
Art: Mattia De Iulis
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: April 20th, 2022
Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson are in action together again in Captain America #0, battling side-by-side against Arnim Zola, who threatens to set back the world’s evolution millions of years so he can rule supreme. It’s old-fashioned punch-throwing, shield slinging goodness in the Lee/Kirby tradition, and it pushes both heroes to their limits.
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You won’t find a more straightforward, action-packed story this week than Captain America #0. With this book being a one-shot (that sets up two future Captain America series), there’s no room for pontification and filler.
We’re dropped right in the middle of the crisis as the issue opens, with Arnim Zola giving a soliloquy to a terrified crowd of people on the streets of New York, his robot army decimating everything in every direction behind him.
Then Captain America (the Steve Rogers version) enters, shield flying, and that’s when everything REALLY amps up. I have to admit, I love one and done stories like this, which remind me of how comics used to be, before Brian Michael Bendis and other writers introduced the concept of “decompressing” stories. Which basically means they tell a story over 4 issues that could be done in one issue.
Both Captain Americas, Steve and Sam, are laser-focused and efficient in combat. Both these guys have years and years of experience, and they’re never going to crack jokes or mouth off in combat, although at one point, Steve gives Zola a lecture on why he keeps fighting for America, while he beats Zola like a week-old punching bag, of course.
It reads like a lot of patriotic mumbo jumbo, I suppose, but I feel like it’s Steve’s version of psychological combat. Steve’s words must be like poison to Zola’s ears (or whatever he listens with), because Zola is a diehard fascist, and he finds the freedoms in America as tasteful as a lint-covered piece of gum. So when Steve goes off on his inevitable speeches, I kind of dig it, it’s who he is.
Sam is written equally well here, all grit and perseverance as he pushes his body to the limit to stop a nasty device Zola’s used to devolve everyone on Earth. He’s a far cry from the guy years ago who was Steve’s abrasive sidekick. I’ve always been a fan of Sam, all the way back to the 1980’s limited Falcon series, where it was revealed he was a mutant. I think that notion got removed over time and his origin tweaked, but in terms of air combatants, there’s no one who can match him, and I love seeing how he uses his flying and his shield in combat. It’s very cool visually and an interesting contrast to Steve’s combat method.
What can I say about Arnim Zola? He’s one of the most brilliant of Jack Kirby’s creations, and he’s both terrifying and hilarious here. I’m still hoping some mad genius writes a story one day where Arnim Zola and Mysterio team up. A guy with a fish bowl for a head and a guy that has a face on his chest? That would be some epic goodness right there.
Mattia De Iulis’s art on Captain America #0 is beautifully painted, and at times his work reminded me of Alex Ross. Though in places the characters look a bit static and posed, every panel is gorgeous, with the baby blue sky popping as Falcon flies by, and the metallic gleam of both heroes’ shields looking 3-dimensional.
There’s so much detail in the art, you’ll be tempted to go back and reread again just to take a closer look at the art. I especially loved the way he drew Arnim Zola, the face projected on his chest looking far more sinister here than in the past. Overall, it’s magnificent art and I look forward to seeing what he does next.
Captain America #0 is a super fun done-in-one issue with a great fight between the two Captain Americas and Zola’s army. It’s the kind of story that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby would have done years ago. There aren’t any deep philosophical issues or major character development moments, just great action and a wonderful optimism throughout. Highly recommended.