Spoilers for Captain America: Sam Wilson #1
Although he's been Captain America for some time now, Sam Wilson is finally coming into his own - literally - in this week's Captain America: Sam Wilson #1. This issue marks the beginning of a new run by writer Nick Spencer and artist Daniel Acuna and a new point of view for Sam ... a cramped middle seat.
In the opening panels, it's revealed that Wilson is now flying commercial airlines to get from A to B as opposed to using a quinjet or S.H.I.E.L.D. resources. Why? That's the main thrust of the issue.
Wilson is settling into being Cap in this new volume, beginning to question how his friend and partner Steve Rogers handled the role, and what being Captain America can do to affect change.
"I have a side. That's right. I have opinions. Strongly held beliefs, even," said Wilson. "And here's the thing -- the more I saw the people I believed I was standing up for being walked on -- the more I heard a noise machine spouting intolerance and fear. Drowning common sense out -- the more I wondered -- shouldn't Captain America be more than just a symbol?"
The issue dives in political waters, from parties affiliation to racial politics and even how S.H.I.E.L.D. are handling -- or mishandling, in Wilson's point of view -- their power. He's stopped working for the U.S. government and S.H.I.E.L.D., instead setting his own agenda and dealing with threats at his discretion.
This isn't the first time a Captain America book has waded into politics, from Steve Rogers toppling a U.S. President in Steve Englehart's run to Ed Brubaker's more nuanced approach in recent years and Robert Morales brief run in the early 2000s. But with Wilson as Marvel's Sentinel of Liberty, Spencer and Acuna are steering Cap into being more outspoken than Rogers ever was.
"Steve always tried to stay above the fray, and I respected him for it," Wilson said. "He took a stand when he had to, but as far as politics went -- he played it close to the vest. But if I really believed I could make a difference -- if I really believed I could change some minds. Do some good -- then wasn't I obligated to try?"
So what does Steve Rogers think about Wilson's new direction? We'll get to that in a bit...
In an effort to cut through the "noise machine," Wilson takes his message directly to the public in a press conference. Although well intentioned and even reinstating an old Cap hallmark -- the hotline -- it didn't quite do what he'd hoped.
While average citizens might appreciate the approach, the media in the "All-New All-Different Marvel" universe take it as divisive.
And the displeasure isn't just on the front pages, but everywhere: from the airline attendant in his coach flight to in the upper echelons of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Wilson had already broken ties with S.H.I.E.L.D. before the press conference, but that very public statement seemed to have earned him special treatment from Maria Hill: the cold shoulder.
"Job's changed," as Wilson puts it; and his former employers and co-workers seem to agree. Even supervillains take notice, who take to referring to him with the politically-charged 's' word...
The issue culminates along the U.S./Mexico border when Captain America intervenes in the Sons of the Serpent attempting to attack Mexican migrants. After Wilson dispatches them quickly, he gets a surprise visit by Steve Rogers.
Captain America: Sam Wilson #2 comes out in just two weeks on November 28, before setting into a monthly schedule. Upcoming issues promise the return of Serpent Squad and a new Cap-Wolf, and 2016 already has a Cap event with Avengers: Standoff!, also written by Spencer. Several of the threads here, from Rogers and Wilson being at odds, to distrust about the way S.H.I.E.L.D. is handling things, is said to be a part of that event so this new status quo could be going on for some time.