Captain America #11
Written by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Art by Adam Kubert and Matt Milla
Lettering by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
The Daughters of Liberty make their move in the thrillingly poetic Captain America #11. Standing as the penultimate issue of the second arc, writer Ta-Nehisi Coates delivers action on two fronts, supported by his consistently engaging narration. On one hand we have the Daughters, lead by the enigmatic Dryad, finally taking it to the upper echelons of the Power Elite. On the other, Steve Rogers is leading a supervillain prison break, attempting to escape the clutches of Baron Von Strucker.
Just in terms of pure action storytelling, Coates has vastly improved from the near glacial pace of his first comic books. Captain America #11 might be the purest example of this improvement as this issue moves like a bullet, guided by his rich narration and dialogue. And speaking of improvement, Adam Kubert’s time on Captain America has just gotten better throughout this arc. Detailed in burley, expressive layouts, made whole by Matt Milla’s tight spot coloring, Kubert has added a whole new cinematic feel to the title. I will admit he lacks the bombast of Yu’s pencils, but the energy and emotion of the title is still very much intact under Kubert’s pen. As it barrels toward its finale, “Captain of Nothing” keeps Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Captain America going strong.
“I didn’t want to win like this,” bemoans Steve Rogers as he begrudgingly leads a prison riot. Having been imprisoned most of this arc for a murder he didn’t commit, it is a nice to see Steve finally become fully active in the story. But as Coates consistently points out in his narration throughout, that doesn’t mean he has to like it.
“Activity” has really been the operative word of Coates’ Captain America. Though still fairly wordy and focused on the ethos of Steve Rogers as a symbol, Coates seems to have finally gained a true handle on how to pace comic book storytelling. #11 is a wonderful example of this. Not only are we treated to two concurrent action sequences, but ones that neatly build out the ongoing mystery of the Power Elite, the cabal of new Russian based supervillains that have been the authors of Steve and Sharon Carter’s pain in this run.
And I even hesitate to call this issue “wordy” just because of how wonderful Coates’ take on Steve and his co-stars is. Making great use of Steve’s “artist’s soul,” his narration here continues to impress. Going so far as to not allow Steve to let himself off the hook for working with supervillains and the more clandestine Daughters of Liberty. And speaking of the Daughters, the Sharon Carter/Dryad-led team finally get their time in the spotlight in this issue and they absolutely kill it. Armed with codenames based on mythical goddesses, the new team give A-Force a run for their money, running a rescue operation and snatch-and-grab mission concurrently. Adding both action and intrigue to a title already pretty heavy with both.
Speaking of action, artists Adam Kubert and Matt Milla prove to be worthy successors to Lenil Francis Yu. Though more contained than Yu’s layouts, Kubert has kept the intensity up since coming onto Captain America. Priming a powder keg in the supervillain prison and now exploding it into a full on riot in #11. The scene is chaotic to say the least, but Kubert’s layouts never lose the reader, guiding them quickly across the action and to the next morsel of Coates’ narration. Colorist Matt Milla helps as well with the readability, carefully coloring each page and allowing for ample negative space.
For example, there is a sequence in this issue where Steve hijacks a jetpack equipped guard. Moving from one panel to the next, through a white border outcropping of negative space, the pair use the pack’s smoke trail to lead readers through the panel. Not to mention they way they stage the riot itself, in various stages of escalation, starting in small panels and then expanding outward into larger pagescapes. The devil is in the details, but Adam Kubert and Matt Milla have them more than covered.
Graced with driving action and well-deployed pathos, Captain America #11 is a winner. Ta-Nehisi Coates is still playing a longer game with “Captain of Nothing,” but the single issues to get there have been a ton more fun to read, thanks to his new pacing and Kubert and Milla’s keen artwork.