This review is based off a volume that collects Captain America: Sam Wilson #14-17 and Captain America (1968) #344.
If you’re an avid reader of comic books, you’re no doubt well aware that the past decade has seen its share of younger heroes stepping up to claim the mantle of their mentors, sometimes to the chagrin of staunch purists. Marvel has especially championed this method of storytelling in recent years, with Captain America: Sam Wilson being a prime example.
To be honest, I actually find stuff like this to be very appealing, but mostly when it occurs organically and fits well with the established mythos of the relevant hero. Past examples include Dick Grayson becoming Batman and Bucky Barnes becoming Captain America. Having mentioned the latter, you could argue this as having been done before, but at least it makes sense that Sam be worthy of wielding the shield as opposed to, say, when Black Panther took over in Daredevil after Shadowland. Remember that?
If anything, something that Nick Spencer excels at aside from writing is creating controversy, whether it be a book such as this or by making Steve Rogers an agent of Hydra. Say what you want, but it’s been working.
Aside from the torch passing, the artwork forces me to vaguely recall Bucky’s days as Cap. Sure, there are some differences, but hopefully I’m not the only one seeing at least a few similarities between what Steve Epting was doing when Ed Brubaker was at the wheel and what Paul Renaud and Angel Unzueta are doing now; it’s beautiful stuff.
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From the opening chapter, I was enthralled by Spencer’s uncanny ability to blend superhero storytelling with today’s hot button political issues – albeit thinly veiled – and to also incorporate social media. Because of this, what was originally published within the pages of Captain America: Sam Wilson #14 feels very modern and authentic.
And, should you have a serious interest in Secret Empire, you’ll want to check this out because we get glimpses of Rogers maneuvering behind the scenes, causing Wilson to fail at saving the life of a U.S. Senator. To this day, I’m still indifferent when it comes to the direction Spencer has taken Rogers in, but I’ll be damned if it hasn’t made for some fine comic books.
Over time, I’ve come to dig seeing superheroes enjoying their downtime and truly getting to act like they’re buddies. Although it felt out of place seeing the guys attending a wrestling match after the serious stuff that just went down, it was no less entertaining. In fact, the all-new Falcon, Joaquin Torres, may have won me over simply by saying he’s a fan of Lucha Underground.
That’s right, in case you haven’t heard, there’s a new Falcon in town, strengthening the sense of legacy here. You know, with Sam Wilson stepping up as Captain America, this feels comparable to whenever one talk show host inherits The Tonight Show, with a new guy taking his place on Late Night.
Anyway, just when you think we’re about to get back on topic, Misty Knight takes center stage in a tale inspired by what the internet dubbed “The Fappening,” of all things. You see, someone’s circulating inauthentic porn featuring female heroes and villains, and it’s up to her to stop them. It was actually alright, but came completely out of left field.
After shifting focus to Falcon with a story chock full of by-the-numbers sentiment that pretty much wrote itself (I’m aware that I may be contradicting my earlier compliments directed toward Spencer, but his execution here was nowhere near as elegant), we’re treated to some supplemental material in the form of Captain America (1968) #344, which fills us in on some of the references made throughout this trade paperback, specifically those in the second chapter.
Truth be told, I’d have scored Captain America: Sam Wilson Vol. 4 – #TakeBackTheShield higher had I not been given the impression this would be the probing thriller that the first chapter and the pull quote on the front cover hinted at. Instead, we’re dealt an anthology of sorts that prohibits the titular character from being the star of his own book.
Although the parts that make up the whole are good individually, #TakeBackTheShield unfortunately comes across as being an example of bait and switch.