Captain America: Home of the Brave – A Call to Alms

As I sat down to write this, I threw my mind back to Secret Empire, an event that shook the Marvel Universe and its fan base to their very core by asking a fatal question: What if Steve Rogers sided with the bad guys? Nick Spencer took us on a rollercoaster of a journey and one thing I was left with following its dramatic conclusion was an intense desire to see how the true Steve Rogers would carry this awful legacy with him. Can even a man as strong as Steve Rogers bear this immense burden?

Thus, I decided to give Captain America a go. I went into #695 with high expectations: Not only was I hoping for an exploration of the impact Secret Empire would have on ol’ Steve but Mark Waid and Chris Samnee would be guiding him through his journey (For those less familiar with this dynamic duo, I would recommend giving their Daredevil run a go. I place a huge amount of gratitude on their work for getting me into comics). With their first arc complete, where is Steve Rogers now?

First a summary of the arc. Following the transformative events of the past year and a bit, Steve Rogers has decided to hit the road on a quest to redeem his name. On his travels he comes toe-to-toe with the likes of the Swordsman, Rampart and Kraven the Hunter. With innocents’ lives on the line, can Captain America be the hero the people need once more?

I am, to some extent, on the fence with Home of the Brave. At face value, it struck me as story that was simply pandering to the more… Upset, let’s say, with Captain America’s apparent betrayal of his core values and beliefs. What Waid and Samnee present is a story which reminds fans exactly the sort of man Captain America is: Noble, Courageous and Humble. It was, in effect, an apologetic love letter to Cap’s long term fans who hadn’t quite been on board with the whole Secret Empire “nonsense”, as some may like to refer to it as.

My biggest issue with this that it feels somewhat spineless. Secret Empire was, in my personal opinion, an epic that explored what it meant to be a hero and the perspective of those deemed evil by society. Having read Home of the Brave one can’t help but say “Secret What?” Sure, it is vaguely brushed upon here and there but for all intents and purposes it may as well not have happened. However, I have an incredibly biased view on all things Secret Empire and an equally poor background knowledge of Captain America’s indisputably rich history in which many find strength and hope. In that respect, I can accept that perhaps this isn’t necessarily the story I wanted but one that, just maybe, was needed.

Steve Rogers has taken off on a tour of the country he has nobly served for much of his adult life. It’s on this tour that we see him actually connect with the public outside the Manhattan circle that he spends a fair share of his time in alongside his fellow heroes. In that respect, we are reminded that he is very much the people’s hero, an idea conveyed in the sweet, if somewhat corny, recounts of civilians who Cap has saved at one point or another (Perhaps my favourite part of #695, truth be told). He is, for all intents and purposes, a man doing his gosh-darn best with the gifts he has to serve others: a noble cause if ever I saw one.

After months of controversy, I can also appreciate the need to take one of their flagship characters back to his roots (The whole ‘Legacy’ theme further supporting this). If it’s taking on villains or rescuing civilians, Steve Rogers has always been the moral compass of the Marvel Universe and that idea was challenged to the extreme. One of the more enjoyable aspects of this new run is the accounts of the creative teams feelings towards Captain America. Titled “What does Captain America mean to you?” one can’t help but smile at the impact this character has had on so many, something that again reminds why this sort of story is perhaps needed. For long-term fans who felt cut off from their beloved icon, this is definitely a story worth getting into.

Samnee’s art, as always, is simply sublime. Every time I see his name on the cover I know I’m in for a treat. His more simplistic style of illustration is simply awesome but, being quite as uneducated in art commentary as I am, that doesn’t really convey the true wonder I have when flicking through pages carefully drawn by him. He captures key moments perfectly, helping the already seamless writing of Waid come to life.

Secret Empire had some real-world parallels that made it such a delightfully uncomfortable read but I think their is similar merit in in the message Home of the Brave tries to convey. It is, at its heart, a reminder of what it is to be a decent human being. From the get-go Steve reminds us to that “The strong protect the weak”, a message he plays out in the following issues whilst saving those in peril (Somewhat clichéd but, again, sort of necessary). You can take this one way or another but I believe the intended message is that it is our responsibility, our duty if you will, to look out for those worse off than us. This can come in a great multitude of forms but at it heart it is just about helping those in need. Whilst he may be Captain America, his message should speak to us all.

Overall, if you’re a long-term fan of the character, I believe you’ll find solace in what Waid and Samnee have crafted with their first arc. If you are a fan of Secret Empire looking for an effective ‘Trial of Captain America’, I would argue that you should read this anyway but prepare for something that may not be what you were expecting. In these more what-I-can-only-describe as rather sombre times, Home of the Brave is a reminder that the power to make a difference lies in us all. Who better to remind us than the ol’ Star-Spangled Sentinel of Liberty himself?

Image result for Captain America #695
“The Strong Protect The Weak. Never Forget That.” (Photo Credit – Marvel Comics)

 

 

 

9 thoughts on “Captain America: Home of the Brave – A Call to Alms

  1. I’ve been eagerly awaiting your take on this latest incarnation of Steve Rogers! You are one of the biggest fans of Secret Empire I know (myself included) so I’ve been curious as to what you thought of the Waid run so far. Thanks for the post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I decided to challenge myself and look at this from a more positive perspective which was admittedly really difficult considering how disappointed I’ve been left with the absence of Secret Empire in this title.
      I’ve been mulling it over since writing this post and aspects of it have grown on me. I’ve managed to find some solace in the apparent absence of Secret Empire as Home of the Brave addresses the whole idea of Hope, a theme that sat at the heart of Hydra Cap’s downfall. While an arc seeing a Steve Rogers facing a lonely journey of reestablishing the trust broken (As opposed to the seemingly undying love of the public (The festival really ground my gears truth be told, the exact opposite of what I expected)), I guess there is something to be said for Steve Rogers embodying this message (But even that is drowned out by the return to good old fashioned super-heroics brought about under the Marvel Legacy banner). The more I think about this, the more divided I feel.

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      1. The festival bugged me too! It was as if no one even cared that the entire country was living in a fascist dystopian state for a year. No one had any issue with trusting “his face.” Also it made me mad that there wasn’t even the hint of Sam Wilson in a celebration honoring Captain America when the end of Secret Empire made it clear the country saw and honored both men as Cap. Siiiiiiiiiiiigh. I really appreciate your positivity because I’ve been struggling to find any myself.

        But I think you;re right! There is something here to celebrate. I keep thinking this is a great Captain America story…it just feels like it’s shown up at the wrong time. This isn’t the time to have this sort of story, not right in the wake of Secret Empire. But it’s not without its points to celebrate. What you said about hope is spot on!

        I’m excited about what Ta-Nehisi Coates will bring to Cap though! In his recent piece for ‘The Atlantic’ about writing Captain America he said, “Writing, for me, is about questions—not answers. And Captain America, the embodiment of a kind of Lincolnesque optimism, poses a direct question for me: Why would anyone believe in The Dream? What is exciting here is not some didactic act of putting my words in Captain America’s head, but attempting to put Captain America’s words in my head.” I think there’s great potential in where he’ll take our story too! So, even if I’m a bit disappointed, I’m in for the ride.

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        1. It’s stuff like that which is making the looming end of my comic book collecting days (At least for now) rather rubbish, to put it lightly. Though I’m alarmed at the direction Fresh Start is taking, seemingly neglecting some fantastic characters that have been introduced these past few years with the return of the “classic” characters, some of the stuff, such as Coates’ ideas for Cap, do sound exciting.

          You have hit the nail right on the head with timing. The premise seemed great but the delivery fell somewhat short of the immense triumph, if I may say so myself, of Secret Empire. At least Doctor Strange: Damnation is looking like a great Post-Secret Empire story revolving around Las Vegas.

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          1. That’s so refreshing to hear! I know you told me you’d heard it was going in that direction but I’m happy they are really doing it. I kept thinking of Vegas too, reading the Waid stuff in Cap. That event has to be addressed!!! But no one’s talking about it and, to the best of my knowledge, the Ben Reilly Scarlet Spider title is still set there and the city’s still pretty normal. That’s ridiculous… There has to be fallout! So yes, I’m really happy they are talking about it! Yay for Dr. Strange!!

            Liked by 1 person

              1. Nick Spencer is so great. AND he is still the only semi-solid rumor I can find for who will be taking over ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ after Dan Slott. I so hope it’s true! He is such a great writer and, as his Ant-Man stuff shows, he’s great at writing humor and down-on-his-luck characters. I think he’d be a great choice!

                Liked by 1 person

                1. It was confirmed fairly recently that he would be taken over The Amazing Spider-man with art by Ryan Ottley! I just admit that I might have to take at least a brief look at Spencer’s crack at the character.
                  I whole heartedly agree with your comment on Nick Spencer. He is perhaps one of my favourite writers, not only because he handle really epic stories but, as you stated, he is great at doing heroes in a rough patch. His Ant-man stuff is simply superb!

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. It was confirmed?!? Aaaahhh!!!! You just made my day!!!! Hot dog! Yep, I can see what you mean. You know I was wrestling with ‘Amazing’ a little bit myself but I’m certainly sticking around to see how it goes in Spencer’s hands. Woo hoo!

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