Characters Appearing: Captain America, Falcon, Rikki Barnes
Captain America #7-11
Issue(s): Captain America #7, Captain America #8, Captain America #9, Captain America #10, Captain America #11
We start with some revisions to Cap's origin. But before we do that, Robinson sets the political atmosphere. Political people who've never read a Captain America comic generally assume that his comic is kind of pro-government and right-wingish, but regular readers know that the opposite is usually the case. Robinson is British, so it's interesting to me that he's delivering the most right-wing Captain America story i've seen.
Bill Clinton was president at this time, and Robinson (with help from Joe Phillips's art) depicts him as being super-sleazy.
As a lefty, i've got lots of problems with Clinton, but i'm generally suspicious of other people who criticize him especially in a generic way. The idea that Clinton was particularly sloppy with state secrets, for example, was standard Rush Limbaugh fare for the day.
He then has Nick Fury compare the lies told about Captain America to (for some reason) the things that we neglect in the legend of George Washington.
Ok, obviously owning slaves was very bad. But growing hemp and drawing Illuminati symbols is cool as hell! Also, i'd like to believe that Fury is implying that Captain America is also Illuminati-friendly because he hangs out with Marvel Illuminati members Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic. (My main point here is that Robinson seems to think that Washington growing hemp is a bad thing that we've buried to keep his reputation pure, and that's weird.)
Now for the backstory change. Liefeld had the kind of impressive idea that Cap was put to sleep by the government because he objected to the US' use of nuclear bombs against Japan in WWII. That's still true, but it's revealed that, despite that, Captain America had been woken up several times after that and apparently agreed to work for the government. But each time he had to get shut down again. That's an unnecessary dilution to begin with, but instead of having him object to some new American atrocity, the reasons for shutting Cap down are a lot more... reactionary-ish? The big example is when Cap was apparently reactivated for the Vietnam War. He didn't get shut down for objecting to things like the My Lai Massacre. It's because he found out how American POWs were being treated.
The focus on POWs is another red flag for me. I mean, first of all, just to continue on in the tradition of the one cool thing that Liefeld did, Cap should have been found out about some war crime that the US did (there were plenty to pick from in Vietnam) and object to it, forcing the government to put him in suspended animation again. That would be internally consistent with what was already established. And it also would have made more sense. Cap gets mad about the NVA's treatment of POWs and... what? The government tries to cover up the existence of the POWS? They don't want Cap to get fighting mad about it? Or Cap is just so upset by it that he has a nervous breakdown? Seems like a pretty unstable guy; maybe we'd better keep him on ice forever. It's all really weird, especially knowing that the POW/MIA cause was co-opted and embellished by the right.
Alight, that's enough riling up a percentage of my audience. The main outcome of all of this is to have Captain America come in, now aware of this fuller history, and rip off the SHIELD eagle from his mask.
Note that he doesn't immediately replace it with the A. That will appear without fanfare in Cap's next appearance (which is either Cap #8 or Avengers #9). I'm kind of sympathetic to Rob Liefeld on the whole eagle thing. The A is objectively goofy. It's not a common way to refer to the US, it's not a thing that the army would have needed on Cap's costume in WWII for identification purposes, etc.. It's just become so iconic that we don't usually question it, and the fact that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has kept the A in every iteration of Cap's costume is testimony to the fact that it somehow "works" even though on paper it makes no sense. But i can see why someone, tasked with reimagining the character for a reboot, might question its usage. It didn't help Liefeld that his design instincts are shit; a different artist might have sold us on an A-less costume better.
Also, it works out so perfectly that it feels like it was planned: Cap starts off a government stooge and rips off the SHIELD logo when he decides to go independent. Such a happy accident (and kudos to Robinson for taking advantage of the opportunity).
I also wanted to say, in regards to my scrutinizing of Robinson's political motives above, that it's all thrown on its head with the big moment here. Cap's actions are clearly meant to be regarded as morally correct, and it's Bill Clinton who's supporting him in doing it. It's also hard to know what to make of Fury's reaction to Clinton. The art makes it seem like he's taking Clinton's "maybe you should actually try being good" to heart. But Robinson will reveal in the next few issues that this Fury is actually an evil racist LMD. So there's layers upon layers to all of this (and/or i'm making mountains out of molehills).
Anyway the rest of the arc starts as a riff on Cap's now-standard Man Without A Country cycle but it quickly escalates into a major Sons of the Serpent battle. To continue my bizarre Defense of Liefeld, i think using the Sons of the Serpent was a mistake. Liefeld started this series Cap taking on white supremacists, and, for all its fails, it had more to recommend than this. By using Rikki Barnes' brother as an entry point, showing how he got recruited into a hate group, it has a kernel of realism to it. By contrast, the Sons of the Serpent here are armed to the teeth with high tech science fiction weapons. I mean:
And that's how things START!
The reason for this is that a part of this arc, as i've already spoiled, is to reveal that the Nick Fury that's been appearing throughout the Rebornverse is really an evil LMD who is the head of the Serpents.
It's true that Fury in this universe has been really Machiavellian. Chuck Dixon meant for him to be a kind of sleazy hero, but i think the rest of the Heroes Reborn writers took it further than he intended. I didn't cover all his actions but he did things like unlawfully imprison the FF when they first got their powers and refuse to allow the Avengers to have the Vision because he was "government property. And he was just generally a jerk. But he didn't seem too out of bounds for an interpretation of Nick Fury, especially since (unlike the situation with Thor), we knew he wasn't the "real" version of the character anyway. (and this universe's Tony Stark was in more need of redemption that either Thor or Fury.) It's also just a weird thing to be "fixing" this close to the end. But here we are.
We also don't find out who was behind Fury LMD, which has me back to wondering if the creators really did know that this was all ending soon.
Rob Leifeld's run is of course a special kind of bad. But this is bad too, and also bland.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: Issue #7 is a standalone story that takes place in the middle of Avengers #8-9. The rest of this entry covers the Serpents and Eagles storyline. Issue #11 of each of these books ends with a lead-in to the crossover finale, Heroes Reunited.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
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