CAPTAIN AMERICA VOL. 1: CASTAWAY IN DIMENSION Z BOOK 1 (Marvel, 2013; Hardcover)
Collects Captain America Nos. 1-5 (cover dates January- May, 2013)
Writer: Rick Remender
Artists: John Romita, Jr. (Penciler) and Klaus Janson (Inker, 1-4) and Scott Hanna with Tom Palmer (Inkers, 5)
Colorists: Leo Loughridge and Dean White with Dan Brown
How do you follow one of the most celebrated runs of a character, in this case Ed Brubaker's stint on the title? If you are Rick Remender, you go full speed in the completely opposite direction. While Brubaker mostly stuck to more realistic, Earthbound threats, Remender takes Cap not only off world, but out of this dimension altogether! Arnim Zola has to be one of the goofiest looking villains ever created, though.
The story starts with a flashback from Steve Rogers' childhood in the 1920s and then moves forward to the present day. It is Rogers' 90th birthday. He ages slower due to the Super Soldier serum which courses through his veins, and the fact that he was “on ice” for 20 years in suspended animation hasn't hurt his cause, either. According to Bleeding Cool, that has changed, though. Marvel has recently slid their timeline, a necessity to keep the characters from being...well, 90 years old. The Marvel Universe's continuity since Fantastic Four #1 in 1961 is supposedly around 10 years. That means that they have slid things from the Commie hating '60s to starting in a post-9/11 world. Like it or not it's something that had to be done. Now, Cap gets sticky because his origin is rooted in a specific era, namely World War II. They can change what war Tony Stark or Reed Richards served in with minimal impact to the overall continuity of the title, but Captain America must be from that era in order to make sense.
Cap stays in Dimension Z for at least 11 years, and that's just in this book. Godzilla only knows how long it will appear to be on Earth when he gets back sometime in the next hardcover. Probably seconds.
John Romita, Jr. and Klaus Janson are attached at the hip, and have been for years. Romita's artwork has entered what I call his “third phase”. His first phase was Bronze Age Marvel house style, which makes sense considering his father was the art director for Marvel back then. Then his art became somewhat scratchier and more blocky. Lately he seems to be rounding things and dropping lines. None of these critiques are putdowns, by the way. The man has earned his keep and remains a great artist. It should also be noted that, like his father, he has remained a company man through all of the ups and downs and management shake-ups at Marvel.
Remender states in the Afterward that he was aiming for the zaniness of Kirby's '70s run on the title. I am currently 60% through the Captain America By Jack Kirby Omnibus which collects said run, and this is worlds better. Reading past-his-prime Kirby is like chewing chalk, while reading this is like drinking a Diet Mountain Dew; it goes down smooth but with the right amount of bite and kick to make it worth your while. Your mileage, as always, may vary.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.
The OCD zone- Marvel has been cutting corners by not resizing the double page spreads so as to not have any gutter loss. All of the Marvel Now Premiere Hardcovers have been suffering from terrible gutter loss. Please stop the madness! Also, some of the caption/internal monologue boxes get sucked into the gutter, making it a bit tough to read at times.
Paper rating: 4.25 out of 5. Glossy coated stock paper.
Binding rating: 4 out of 5. Glued binding. That stupid free digital copy code card glued into the end of the book makes it unpleasant to read. It's downright annoying, truth be told. These books come factory shrinkwrapped, so why not just wrap the card in with the book instead of gluing into the casing?
Hardback cover coating rating: 4.5 out of 5. These Marvel Now Premiere Hardcovers are dustjacket free. The image is printed on the hardback itself. I didn't think that I'd like it, but I like it quite a bit. The coating is of sufficient thickness so as to withstand handling and reasonable shelfwear.