Captain America #699 Review
Writers: Mark Waid & Chris Samnee
Color Artist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Chris Samnee & Matthew Wilson
Graphic Designer: Carlos Lao
Release date: March 7, 2018
Cap and his small band of rebels resolutely forge ahead in their mission to take down King Babbington; while two familiar faces, Hulk and The Thing, emerge as unwitting enforcers of King Babbington’s ruthless rule in the tenacious Captain America #699.
If “Make America Great Again by Wiping Out Despots and Their Entitled Rich Cronies” were a real thing, it’d encapsulate where this story seems to be going. Cap’s rallying his commandos, improving their strategy, and gaining ground on Rampart by exploiting the weaknesses in their law and order foundations.
Why Hulk? Why The Thing? Why now? Both are ginormous and infinitely powerful, useful tools in manipulative little hands. In this issue, each character starts out as raw power controlled from without. What happens when that power breaks free of external control? Samnee and Waid explore that question, using Hulk, and Thing as a foil or mirror for the downtrodden, oppressed Americans of 2025. As tightly controlled as they are, they possess so much power, they just haven’t found ways to break those chains yet. Rallying around Captain America’s leadership, there might just be a way forward for the citizens of America in 2025.
Where last issue’s art was bleak and dripping in blood red, symbolizing the complete domination of Rampart and Babbington on the landscape, this issue’s pushes back on that domination through Hulk’s signature green and purple and The Thing’s signature rocky orange. There’s a particular two page spread in the middle that does this so effectively. I could just feel the THOOM THOOM THOOM as Thing shakes the figurative and literal foundations of Rampart’s dominion. There is a sea of change coming from this story and the expansion of the color palate to include more green, purple, orange, along with Cap’s trademark red, white and blue, foreshadows effectively.
I just love how King Babbington is drawn in this issue. Previously, we saw him in a propaganda-style photo, handsome and charismatic. Static. But no one is really safe from atomic radiation, no matter how high in the castle they reside. His physical form is now as corrupt as his soul. He’s a small, smarmy, disproportional weasel who dresses like a pasty pink Count Rugen from The Princess Bride. Also, he’s got the smallest hands I’ve ever seen. Take that as you will.
Again this month, Captain America got me thinking deeply about the real world issues we face today. The longer I witness the world turning around me, the easier it is for me to see a harsh truth: systems in power perpetuate privilege for themselves and themselves alone.The powerful elites tell themselves they alone are worthy. They tell themselves they have “sacred rights” to enjoy the power, privilege, and pampering they enjoy. They build a world of lies, to tell themselves mainly, to free themselves from guilt of perpetuating a system so wholly imbalanced and untenable. Healthy societies don’t need drones, robotic police, or martial law. Healthy societies need leadership for the common good, engaged citizens shedding their apathy, fear to push back against oppression and subjugation. Healthy communities need Caps of their own to lead the way. Now, since it’s fairly obvious that Captain America is fictional, despite my Walter Mitty imagination, Samnee and Waid use this issue to remind us that we can begin to act, to stand and be the heroes our communities need, that if we act now we can keep the possibility of an the dystopian America 2025 they created at bay.
Talking Dog, by the way, is still around walking softly and carrying a big stick. Good boy. Lastly, “Bomb Pop” is a thing and I’m not giving it up. The day will come when I meet Chris Evans and I will call him “Bomb Pop” knowing full well he won’t understand that reference. Then I’ll put this book in his hand and say, “You’ve got just one more Cap in you, right?”
Review by: Cheryl Gustafson