Waiting for the Trade – Captain America

Waiting for the Trade

Captain America:
Castaway in Dimension Z (2)

by Rick Remender &
John Romita Jr.

collects Captain America
(2012) issues 6-10.

 

Why I Bought This: I
wanted the complete story of Cap in Dimension Z so I actually grabbed volumes 1
and 2 at the same time (on FCBD with a 40% discount per trade).

 
The Plot: Cap
storms Zola’s fortress in a bid to rescue his son and prevent Zola’s plan to
invade the Earth.

(spoilers below)

 
Chapter 1 – Jet is praying as she finds herself tempted by
Cap both physically and his ideals. When the camera pulls out we see the church
is a shrine to Zola. Cap kills the mutate guards as he gain access to the
castle. Jet and Ian debate the value of goodness. Zola is melting the Phrox
into biological clay in an attempt to grow them into clones of Steve but is
unsuccessful. Zola then talks to Ian and is less willing to debate his values
than Jet. He ends up strapping Ian to a chair Clockwork Orange style to brainwash him into thinking like a Zola.
Steve finds Jet in the shower and threatens her with a laser gun to tell him
where Ian is. She does not believe Cap will shoot her and refuses to talk and
Cap seemingly kills her. Meanwhile Ian’s brainwashing takes hold.

Chapter 2 – We get a flashback to Cap and Ian enjoying a
picnic two years ago as Steve tells Ian about Steve’s own father and promises
to always be there for Ian. Cap kills more mutates as he comes through the
hall. Jet is indeed not dead and frees herself from the ropes Cap tied her in,
then warns her father via radio that Cap is coming for Ian. Cap kills one of
his Gamma clones then comes face to face with Jet. This time they fight to a
stalemate until Cap stops to save a Phrox female. Afterwards Cap convinces Jet
to do the right thing. Meanwhile Zola’s castle has become a rocket and is
preparing to invade Earth by infecting everyone with the Zola virus. Steve and
Jet split up then Steve is shot in the back by Ian.

Chapter 3 – Cap is pummeled by the gamma-clone and believes
he may be dying but then rallies for Ian’s sake to defeat it. Ian attacks Steve
and accuses him of kidnapping him. Cap punches Ian and retreats hoping he can
escape to Earth and send the FF to rescue the boy. Ian recovers and picks up a
jagged replica shield the gamma-clone had. Meanwhile Jet frees the Phrox but is
discovered by her father. Ian presses the assault on Cap while presenting a
counter-argument to Cap’s ideals. Ian wins this fight and inflicts another grievous
wound with the barbed-shield. He is about to execute Cap but Steve talks about
how people can choose to be different than their fathers which helps Ian shake
off the brainwashing. And then Ian is shot through the neck from behind and
falls into a vat of chemicals as Sharon Carter arrives to save Cap.

Chapter 4 – A quick flashback to six years ago as Ian
catches fish and Steve paints a portrait of them together. Now Sharon tells Steve he has only been missing
30 minutes and believes Zola implanted false memories of the decade plus he
spent with Ian. Sharon
evacuates Steve and informs she has set the castle to blow with C-4. Sharon kills some mutates
and gets Steve to stand up. Meanwhile Zola is about to defeat Jet but Steve
makes the save. Cap is beating Zola to death but he launches his virus towards
Earth then throws himself and Cap off the fortress. Cap lands hard and Zola is
strangling him but Cap detonates a grenade in Zola’s bio-suit. Jet arrives to
see her father dying and in his final act he saves her from an avalanche. With
his dying words he tells her to finish his work and tells her he loved her.

Chapter 5 – Jet is bereft and when Steve tells her Ian is
also dead and that Sharon intends to blow up her
home she attacks Sharon
and steals the detonator. This leads to a sky cycle race with Steve and Sharon
chasing Jet while the mutates chase the heroes. Cap takes down the mutates and Sharon manages to talk
sense into Jet. Zola then rises up in an enormously large body to chastise Jet
for failing to avenge him. This leads to Sharon
falling into Zola’s grip with the bomb in a scene reminiscent of Bucky’s
classic death while Jet flies Steve through the portal home. Steve turns and
runs back through the portal but already years have passed in Dimension Z. Jet
pulls him back through to Earth as the portal collapses. Steve collapses bloody
and in tears in an alley as the narration calls him “man further out of time.”
In the epilogue we return to Dimension Z to see Ian has grown up to become a
freedom fighter and is using the code name Nomad.

 

Critical Thoughts:
I hate the last five pages but otherwise I really liked the story.

The positives are a lot of worked in the first volume works
even better in the second volume. JRJr’s art and splash page reveals like in
the church scene with Jet, when Ian is shot, when Cap saves Jet from her
father, when Zola is reborn, even the Ian as Nomad finale are all standout
fantastic A+ work and in some ways the art alone is worth buying the trade for.
Even some of the non-splash pages like the motorcycle race in the finale are
just terrific on a visual level.

I love the dynamic between Steve and Zola’s ideals. Ian’s
indictment of Cap and America
while he is brainwashed is terrifically written. Look no one is going to empathize
with Zola’s viewpoint. The man is both a Nazi and a sadistic mad scientist but
Remender manages to give a him a coherent voice and world view and that alone
is quite the writing accomplishment.

I like the payoff with all the flashbacks on Steve and his
father in 30s being the thing that gets through to Ian so that he chooses Steve
over Zola. I thought that was well done. Ditto I think the always stand up
mantra is used well in both the fight with Ian and when Sharon motivates Cap to evacuate after Ian’s
seeming death.

Now let’s talk about the flaws. I think argument can be made
that Jet turns on her father too easily. I think Sharon (who isn’t my favorite
character to begin with) is irredeemable for shooting Ian from behind in what
is meant to be a fatal shot. Okay yes, she doesn’t know who Ian is and what he
means to Cap but that’s no excuse. He’s a kid and even if he has a gun she
can’t think of another way to disarm him? She doesn’t trust Steve to save
himself from a child that she has to go for a headshot? I think it’s too
hardcore and I find it doubtful Sharon
would shoot a child so casually considering she once miscarried herself. I
think the cover of the issue Sharon
returns is unfortunate as it spoils her return in the issue. I think Cap also
miracle heals in that last chapter. He goes into a battle with a bleeding chest
wound, then gets shot in the stomach and in his own narration relates his war
experience to what he is feeling to assume he is dying. He is subsequently
gored by a jagged shield and then thrown off a building and yet in the last
chapter that seems to be forgotten as Cap goes into an extended sky cycle
fight. I mean there is heroics and adrenaline and then there is ridiculous
overkill and the finale leans towards the latter.

I dislike the final five pages quite a bit for two reasons. One I don’t like the
“man further out of time” narration for Cap when he gets home because I think
that element of his character needs to be over and done forever. Look when Stan Lee wrote the
man out of time stuff it was absolutely a good story challenge for Cap because
he had just woke up from a decades long freeze. But after the decade plus that
Marvel time is supposed have passed since Cap woke up Steve should be adjusted by now—really any
person should be adjusted by now but particularly Cap whose personal strength
is what makes him who he is. It is why I never like Waid’s run on the character
because he was all about playing up the Bucky loss and man out of time stuff
and I felt like ‘no Steve is over this by now;’ especially when it hadn’t been present in the prior 200 issues of Stern, DeMetteis and Gru made Waid’s use all the more jarring.
Man out of time just doesn’t fit the character anymore. Stan Lee had great ideas but his
best idea is these characters grow and change which is something the current
editorial regime is in denial about.

 As for Ian as Nomad, just Uggg!. First it feels like a
retread of a story that is less than 10 years old with Rikki Barnes as Nomad
of Cap’s young sidekick from another
universe taking on the role of Nomad and presumably Ian makes his way to earth
struggles to fit in. Personally I’d rather they just resurrect Rikki (who I really liked in that role) then give
the name to someone else, particularly someone so similar to her. But what I hate even more is Ian is now an adult.
Look it was easy to guess time was going faster in Dimension Z when the story
was jumping years at a time between chapters because Cap wasn’t going to be
lost to the Avengers and other crossovers for 10 years (which in Marvel time is
like five or more decades of stories real time), but I’d rather Cap have taken teen Ian
home and raised him as a supporting character because I DESPISE the
time-traveling instant adult children that permeates comics. Doing that once
could be interesting I suppose but it has become Marvel’s default way of
writing out children of heroes: Cyclops, Longshot and Scarlet Witch all
have children that artificially aged from time traveling other dimensional
nonsense. Heck the FF even pull it with Franklin
from time to time although he at least snaps back to childhood. I imagine there
are other examples too those are just off the top of my head. (You can also see
this trope in TV shows like Angel and
Charmed and it isn’t good there
either). Anyway I hate that gimmick in general and was disappointed to see it
show up here when the Cap-Ian dynamic as written in these trades still had
plenty of unexplored story potential left.
Grade A- .   My
qualms with the ending aside this is an excellent high stakes story that uses
art and internal narration as good as any recent story I’ve read to build the
tension in the action scenes. I will likely buy the next trade to see where
Remender goes next with Cap though I hope he has more planned than just Jet as
Cap’s next romantic interest.