Marvel has already announced that this summer we will see both of its characters carrying the Captain America mantle will headline their own comics and this super-sized zero issue publishing this week acts as a strong thesis for what they’ll both be doing. Penned by Tochi Onyebuchi (who will write the Sam Wilson series) alongside Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing (who are collaborating on the Steve Rogers comic), the series shows a clear dynamic understanding of both heroes and ideas of where to take them; but where Captain America#0 really soars is in the artwork by Mattia De Iulis, who is tragically not drawing either ongoing comics.
From the jump Captain America #0 roots itself in a classic style of story for the hero, Arnim Zola is attacking and he has a wild plan (he’s going to turn everyone into dinosaurs with an experimental serum that is on an experimental rocket), resulting in the first of many amazing splash pages in the series. De Iulis is channeling the stylings of Alex Ross and Esad Ribić throughout the comic but this big splash with both heroes tossing their shields is the key image of what he’s doing with the characters. Their dynamic action captures both the velocity of their movement and the glint of the natural light behind the heroes; it’s breathtaking.
De Iulis doesn’t peak early with this image either, filling the panels with explosive debris and layering them across each other to really create artwork that elevates the mood and fills in the gaps between images to great effect. There are panels in this comic that are destined to become the new hero image for each of these characters, capturing them in a pose or stance that embodies every heroic adjective that the mind conjures for either man. There’s also the matter of how this issue uses both its heroes separately and then together, working at a serialized level for each of their storylines on a visual level so that each time their paths connect it’s satisfying and built from a cohesive narrative function in the images . There’s also one panel of the pair lounging in water that is just remarkable, so get ready to see it everywhere.
Where Onyebuchi, Kelly, and Lanzing’s script excels is by breathing a modern sensibility into a role that is eight decades old but not glossing over the characteristics that Steve has embodied throughout that time. By that same notion the way that it gives Sam an equal playing field as a hero and force to be reckoned with shows that these three are working together to really carve a unique path forward for the pair. Perhaps the only stumbling block is how the issue has to shine a light on the “hypocrisy” of a character fighting for an America that is intrinsically broken by capitalism and archaic politics, it’s something that was at the root of both Ta-Nehisi Coates and Nick Spencer’s recent runs. It’s a near inescapable question for the character in the modern era, and could become a re-tread of the work that has been done in the past 10 years; luckily, they provide the best possible answer here.
This is classic comic book storytelling at its finest, with art and words working in tandem to create a spellbinding action set piece that keeps the pages turning and the reader with the ultimate feeling on its final panel: What happens next? The good news is that this comic is clearly designed to elicit that question but also to immediately answer it. Though the scripting and character work by the three writers show a clear understanding and grasp of their respective takes on the two characters that share the title, it’s the artwork by Mattia De Iulis that takes this story and elevates this material to a one-shot that is a total distillation of what Captain America is, was, and can be.
Published by marvel comics
On April 20, 2022
Written by Tochi Onyebuchi, Jackson Lanzing, and Collin Kelly
Art by Mattia de Iulis
Colors by Mattia de Iulis
letters by Joe Cara Magna
cover by alex ross