Marvel Pick Of The Week – November 18, 2015 [SPOILERS]


Pick Of The Week:

Captain America: Sam Wilson 3, by Nick Spencer and Daniel Acuna

Nick Spencer’s run of Sam Wilson as the new Captain America has been keeping up his famed sense of humor, but the jokes have taken a backseat to the more political messages of what it means to have a Black Captain America, a man unafraid to speak from a platform of social justice. This issue maintains the components that have made this run so great, but the balance tilts more toward the silly humor side, and it makes for a great read.

This time, Sam follows the leads on the kidnapped immigrant from the first two issues, finding a warehouse full of animal-human hybrids ruled by the vile Dr. Karl Malus. Malus is wicked with the jokes, like when a tearful immigrant-turned-reptile begs to see his wife, and Malus responds, “They say love knows no bounds, but come on, you’re an iguana.”  Or when the good guy calls him Karl, and he digs into his Austin Powers file for the retort, “It’s Doctor Malus, thank you. I didn’t do four extra years in mad scientist school for nothing. You’d like it if I went around calling you Sam America?” Wilson defeats the bad guy and saves the day, of course, but not before Malus temporarily turns him into Capwolf, as shown on the cover.

Capwolf. Okay, this is going to be digging deep for newer readers. In the summer of 1992, Captain America spent six issues investigating some werewolves in Massachusetts, and a Comic Book Science formula turned him into a werewolf for a couple of pages. It was a brief and silly chapter in Mark Gruenwald’s run, but it has been beloved by fans and revisited in such recent storylines as this summer’s Secret Wars tie-in, Spider Island, and the tail end of Rick Remender’s Secret Avengers. I was a twelve year old boy just getting into comics that summer, and it remains one of my favorite Captain America stories, albeit demoted to Guilty Pleasure status now.

And in Nick Spencer’s world, no one is a bigger fan of Capwolf than Misty Knight. In the book thus far, she’s been a confident, capable supporting cast member who hates that people might consider her a sidekick. The writer and his main character treat her with respect she has earned as a thirty-plus-year veteran of Marvel Comics. So when she finds Sam Wilson chained up in the sinister laboratory, and her response is a giddy, “Capwolf is back!” the reader knows this continuity callback is delightful enough to break her out of her professional shell, and we get to clap with her. And when she unchains him but can’t resist making joking reference to Teen Wolf, American Werewolf In London, and The Howling, she comes across as a fangirl meeting her hero, not an insensitive friend. It’s a sequence that has to be earned, but this writer has shown enough love for Misty that he can invite her into his sillier scenes without sacrificing her dignity.

And I wish there was a way to adequately communicate how rich Acuna’s art is in all of this. The thick outlines and powerful poses that make his work so beautiful are perfectly suited to the horror setting, communicating menace and pathos without losing clarity and light. Misty always looks gorgeous and never falls into a male gaze setup. Capwolf looks appropriately goofy and deadly in equal measure.

This is the third issue of Captain America: Sam Wilson and the third time it’s been Pick Of The Week. If you haven’t gotten into it yet, there is still time to catch up, but I wouldn’t advise waiting any longer. This is one of the best parts of the All-New Marvel.

Honorable Mentions:

Astonishing Ant-Man 2, because this is how a great comedy writer pits Ant-Man against an evil magician.

Secret Wars Too, because this alternate-reality Spider-Man is a hoot, and I kind of want him around in the rest of my Marvel Universe stories, not just the back of my head while I work.

Ms. Marvel 1, because a supporting character meets his new girlfriend’s parents and they are two moms and this casual appreciation for diversity representation is so much of what makes Ms. Marvel such an amazing comic book.

Spider-Woman 1, because Jessica Drew’s Adam Sandler reference is only a small part of her charm.

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Check out the previous Picks here!