Captain America Volume 1: Castaway in Dimension Z
Collecting Captain America #1-5
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: John Romita Jr.
Marvel Comics, $24.99, color, 136 pages
I had such low expectations for this title, I almost had to like it better than I expected.
While I love John Romita Jr.'s art, I have been pretty disappointed in Rick Remender's work. From his early indie work (filled with misspellings and eye-rolling plot twists), to his painfully unbelievable and interminable Secret Avengers story to his clumsy characterization and cringe-inducing misunderstanding of the nature of prejudice in Uncanny Avengers, I have trouble thinking of a Remender story I have liked.
So when I heard that he was writing a Captain America that would take the titular character to "Dimension Z" for roughly a year, I thought it would be a completely throwaway story that I could safely avoid -- "safely" because it wouldn't affect "regular" continuity, but also "safely" in that I wouldn't see more of the mischaracterization of Cap (as an arrogant martinet) I had already seen in Uncanny Avengers.
But the Romita Factor induced me to order this first collection, and lo, I enjoyed it. Naturally, I enjoyed the Romita work. But Remender surprised me with a story that didn't require me to turn off my brain.
The plot is that Cap is in this other dimension where Armin Zola is doing experiments on the locals. There's a little boy involved, which the Captain rescues, and then hooks up with the local resistance. He spends the next five years leading the insurgents against Zola, while raising the boy as his own. At the end of this book, Zola discovers that the boy is alive, and is furious that Captain America has prevented him from knowing his own son! And Cap realizes that the bad guy has a point, just as the boy's sister, who has been augmented in various ways, attacks.
Naturally, I won't tell you how this volume ends, and besides, the story will continue in volume two, before (presumably) Cap will return to the Marvel Universe at the point he left it (or he'd be missing in all the books he's in right now). But I think it's worth reading.
For one thing, you really can read the boy's situation as either being rescued or kidnapped. It's in your point of view. Which means that Cap's got some thinking to do. Plus, he has become attached to the boy in a paternal way, something we've never seen Cap do before (he has no children of which I'm aware). So that's new, and welcome. Plus, Remender has managed to make Zola -- one of Kirby's dumbest-looking and silliest creations -- interesting. That's quite a feat.
So, yes, I'd recommend this. To my own surprise!