Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Chris Samnee
Captain America #695 is everything this new Marvel Legacy relaunch should be modeling itself after. First and foremost it is a great issue that encapsulates everything that is great about the character of Steve Rogers. For those who would argue a character of his ilk is no longer necessary in the cynical culture we find ourselves they have this comic to point to as a demonstration of why a character of Captain America’s moral code is more vital than ever.
Since Captain America utter those now famous words, “Hail Hydra!”, this moment has been building. A movement away from the Hydra Cap and a return of the Steve Rogers many of us know and love. For once that build up had a payoff worthy of its occasion. It helps when you have an all-star team like Mark Waid and Chris Samnee on your title. The group that gave us such a stellar Daredevil run and the highly underrated Black Widow, now team up for what is perhaps their most high profile book yet.
Waid is obviously familiar with the character as he has written some infamous Cap stories in his own right. His writing style and the character of Steve Rogers complement each other well. It makes much more sense for Waid to be writing this book rather than millennial teenagers in something like The Champions. He is the type of writer that is not afraid to let superheroes be super and that is exactly what this issue does.
In this issue, Rogers returns to a small town he once saved right after he was found frozen in ice. Now years later the town remembers that day with an annual Captain American Festival that celebrates all things Cap. With that, we get a montage of individuals speaking out about why they have so much admiration for Cap and why he means so much to them. Waid leaned hard into the earnestness of Cap and the book is better for it. As tends to happen with comics this celebration turns dangerous when the evil force that attacked the town years ago returns to seek revenge. Luckily Captain America is there to live up to the praise that was dawned upon him moments earlier.
This was a one and done story that is simple in execution, minuscule in scope, and filled with a blatant in your face message. In other words—everything it should have and needed to be. I am still unsure what Marvel Legacy really means, but if it means allowing superheroes to be who they are Marvel and comics will be better off for it. The idea of the strong standing up for the weak is not revolutionary, and that is why it works for this book. It takes a timeless mantra that should be universally applied as the reason why Captain America does what he does. He is not someone driven by tragedy. That is what makes him different from nearly every other superhero. Instead, he does what he does because of a sense of duty an honor. Not necessarily just duty in the sense of county, but duty in the sense of humanity. Being a good person and doing what is right is the idea he brings to the table. Waid and Samnee lay all their cards on the table as they explain the viewpoint they are approaching with this character.
Complexity does not always equal compelling storytelling, nor does art require immersive detail to be effective. What Chris Samnee does just as well as nearly any artist is, tell stories. It is cliché but true that when it comes to his art you can remove every word and still understand the story that is being told. When you look at the first issue of Samnee and Waid’s Black Widow you had a book that tested that idea as only a few words were spoken. Luckily Samnee is not forced to draw the awful redesign of Cap’s uniform instead we get the classic look in all its wing tipped glory. We get a small glimpse to what he can bring to the action of Captain America and surely wets to the appetite for what is to come.
Captain America #695 enters the realm of books that I would give to individuals to explain what I love about the character, and why he is important in the world of comics and fiction in general. This was one of the best Captain America comics I have read since the glory days of Ed Brubaker’s run with the character. If anything the biggest mistake Marvel made was not leading Legacy off with this book. It serves as the best testament to what Marvel once was and what it can be again.