In 1976, the Madbomb turned things upside down in the South Bronx, and Captain America needs a lesson in access to become a hero.
This very clever and surprising issue takes an alternate look at the aftermath of 1976's Captain America #193, putting a truly human face on the cost of the Madbomb detonation that turned New Yorkers on each other. The events are seen through the eyes of Felix Waterhouse, a naturally gifted engineer from the South Bronx who just wants to go to college and develop his gift for technology. Unfortunately, the detonation of the Madbomb changes the course of his life, leading him to deliver the truth to power in ways that he never could have expected.
What's best about this Mark Russell script is its subtlety, the patience in which it lays out its play and gives characters something they rarely get a chance for in a major label licensed book: development. Captain America learns something here, and if there was ever a hero who was well poised to get a lesson in 1976, it's well-timed that Cap would receive it.
The art from Ramon Perez, Rico Renzi, and Joe Sabino could easily be showing parts of the Bronx today as well as in the 1970s, where casual disregard from the city's powers that be (costumed or otherwise) have often left a disenfranchised population to their own devices, and we all know what they say about idle hands. The visuals present crystal clear storytelling (the splash page with the madness gripping the citizens is particularly gorgeous, with kudos for the period-appropriate ads, but the lab scenes are Kirby-tastic too) while maintaining the whiff of nostalgia that could make this appear like a lost classic.
Is it problematic, all the suffering that a Black man has to go through so, eventually, some empowered white people can figure out something? Of course, but that unfortunate trope (from The Green Mile to Captain America: Civil War) has led to other valuable moments, so it's a Pyrrhic victory to see Cap finally working to save the people who suffered instead of avenging them.
This issue is a pleasant surprise that, had it really affected things in the past, has led to a less horrible present. RATING: BUY.
Captain America: Marvels Snapshot #1
Acclaimed writer Mark Russell (Second Coming, Wonder Twins) and superstar artist Steve Rude take us to Kirbytown for a literally explosive story of the madness-inducing Madbomb and its aftermath, as the MARVELS SNAPSHOT tour through Marvel history continues. A gifted South Bronx teenager sees his neighborhood destroyed in the initial Madbomb attack, and his future up in smoke with it. What does he do when A.I.M. recruiters come calling? Does he stand by a system that's failed him, or find a future outside the law? Featuring Captain America, the Falcon, Iron Man and more!
Hannibal Tabu is a writer, journalist, DJ, poet and designer living in south Los Angeles with his wife and children. He's a winner of the 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt, winner of the 2018-2019 Cultural Trailblazer award from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, his weekly comic book review column THE BUY PILE can be found on iHeartRadio's Nerd-O-Rama podcast, his reviews can be found on BleedingCool.com, and more information can be found at his website, www.hannibaltabu.com.
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