It's all about the execution in Captain America #25, a reflective issue that focuses on a very personal rescue mission for Sharon Carter. In 'All Die Young: Part VI,' writer Ta-Nahesi Coates and artist Leonard Kirk plunge into Sharon's mind as she explores her relationship with her Aunt Peggy against a series of fluid action sequences. Chased by a classically patriotic 10-pager from Anthony Falcone and Michael Cho, Captain America #25 presents two moments in time with two very different finales.
Written by Ta-Nahesi Coates and Anthony Falcone
Art by Leonard Kirk, Matt Milla, and Michael Cho
Lettering by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Backed up by Winter Soldier and Sam Wilson, Sharon Carter and Captain America head to Madripoor to rescue Peggy Carter from the clutches of the Power Elite. Framed entirely within Sharon's head, Coates' script heavily de-centers Cap's starring role to contrast Sharon's life with Peggy's and the treacherous Alexa Lukin. This is Sharon Carter's story, with Cap, Bucky, and Sam Wilson little more than weapons to execute each part of the surgical rescue operation.
Artist Leonard Kirk favors strong shadows to emphasize the cloak-and-dagger nature of the mission. Enemies and heroes alike hide under the dense cloak of darkness, while colorist Matt Milla picks out the details in the cool dark blues of laptop screens, low-key flashlights, and the night sky. Kirk's detail work is similarly light-handed, opting to render the imperfect crinkles of clothing and keep the rest relatively sparse. His characters zip across the page diagonally, always cutting to the core of the goal with faces of grim determination.
Coates saves the major reckoning between Peggy and Alexa for the story's final moments, ending in a cliffhanger that seems to unfold in action movie-esque slow motion. The issue's script balances calm and clear introspection with the frenetic unpredictability of fieldwork. Although the plot unfolds in a standard way, Sharon's narration keeps things from feeling stale and adds fresh perspective to what could have been a much simpler action book.
Anthony Falcone and Michael Cho close out the issue with 'The Promise.' This is a tight short story focused around Sun Jing Jeong, who befriends Cap while he works as a cook in a Brooklyn diner. As Cap struggles against world-ending threats, Sun Jing beats himself against a country not always welcoming of immigrants. At Jing's funeral, Steve Rogers makes a speech to celebrate his life. This is ultimately an aspirational story, the kind of feel-good flag-waver that Captain America was founded upon. Falcone ruminates on the American Dream to Cho's animated stylings, making for a short story that is exactly as celebratory as the issue's cover promises. Cho ages his own work with a pale color palette that intermittently explodes into fiery red, while his inks imbue a real sense of heft to his blocky characters.
The current volume of Captain America reaches its twenty-fifth issue with a stylish pair of stories that aim to challenge their characters' relationships with momentous events in their lives. While Cap revisits his friend's struggles to carve out a positive life in the United States, Sharon revisits the impact of constant war on Peggy Carter's life and how it molded both her own and Alexa's present. Streamlined portraits and block shadows dominate both Cho and Kirk's artwork, lending a sleek sensibility to Falcone and Coates' scripts. Captain America #25 balances taut action with a strong inner voice to produce an understated but impactful comic book.