A Throwback with Payback – “Captain America White #1” Review
Storytellers: Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
Colors: Dave Stewart
I do not typically go in for the throwback comics. In particular, the stylized art that is designed to mimic a time gone by while the art form has advanced so far always falls flat with me. I tell you what, though; Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale have me believing that nostalgia comics can be done in a way that works. Maybe it is just because it is Cap, but even with that character, I generally do not go in for the World War II stuff if it is more than a page or two of flashback. With the exception of the unfortunate title (are we going to re-brand the Sam Wilson comic as Captain America Black???), this story rocks, whatever the nature of the secret sauce is.
In this issue, we travel back to Cap’s re-awakening by the Avengers. Once he gets slapped and realizes that it ain’t his Daddy’s World War anymore, he starts to reminisce and lament about the death of Bucky. What we are treated to then is a fun, authentic feeling, but modern re-telling of some of those Cap and Bucky adventures that many of us never got to experience first-hand.
I say modernized because one of the things that make these throwback stories so horrible is the slog of getting through the antiquated, 1950’s era campy and double-cheesy dialogue. Fortunately Loeb does not subject us to that in full force; there’s a bit, but not so much that it is overpowering. I do not mind nostalgic tales set in period pieces, but there is no need to replicate the aspects of that era that were not great and that the comics industry has found ways to improve upon. This story is a bit maudlin, with Cap completely in “woe is me” mode. But the essential elements of this character that I love are also readily brought to the surface. You get Cap taking full responsibility for what happened to one James Buchanan Barnes. You get some really awesome and touching moments between Cap and Fury. And we get some wonderful scenes between Cap, Bucky, Fury, and the Howling Commandos.
The art is also nicely modernized. You get that the look and feel is meant to hearken back to art of earlier decades, but it does not try to exactly replicate that art. That is predominantly done by simply removing the sharp lines and interior cuts that typify today’s art styles. It is a bit softer, and not so muscularly defined. The effect of Dave Stewart’s colors, which feel kind of crayon-y in some places, while feeling like water colors in others, cannot be understated.
This is just a great bit of storytelling packaged in a wonderful period piece setting. Despite it not normally being my thing, I will eat this up as long as Loeb, Sale, and Stewart can keep the quality at this level. It is entirely set within the WWII backdrop right now. I’m interested to see if they bring it back to later eras and focus on some of the initial Avengers stuff, which I think this team would do well. This has been added to my ongoing pull-list, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds.