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Captain America: American Nightmare Hardcover – June 22, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
The only reason I give this 4 instead of 5 stars is that it includes 2 annuals, Captain America/Iron Man and Captain America/Citizen V. These two issues don't add too much to the book as a whole. They don't tie in to the larger story arc of American Nightmare.
This is the second one of Mark Waid's Captain America books that I've read (the other being Captain America: Operation Rebirth (Marvel Premiere Editions)) and, yup, still impressed. While it is a very 90s Captain America--big hair, bright colors--it's amazing how relevant some of the issues raised in the story still are. (Or, alternatively, how 20 years later, we're still dealing with some of the exact same things.)
It's a good read, a fun read--although the insertion of the 1989 Annual into the middle of the book made it feel more fractured than Operation: Rebirth, or the stories that Ed Brubaker has been telling. Still very much recommended, though!
Here's a blow by blow breakdown:
Captain America: Issue 8: Live Kree or Die Part 2. This issue is part of the crossover event Live Kree or Die which has Captain America being summoned to Florida by Warbird (Carol Danvers) to fight Kree who are performing experiments on human beings in their efforts as members of the Lunatic legion. Cap shows his fighting spirit and how he always puts others first while Danvers continues her decline to the sad (temporary) end that would result at the end of Live Kree or Die. My complaint with this story has nothing to do with how Waid wrote it but Marvel's editorial decision to include Part 2 of a four part story, and then summaries on either side. To me, that's just not cool. Either reprint the whole story or skip the comic as it doesn't tie much into Cap's main arch. By the way, Live Kree or Die should be reprinted in full somewhere. Grade: D+
Captain America: Issues 9-12: American Nightmare: The title story for this collection has some intriguing moments and includes Cap's new electric shield. There's also a nice plot with Cap discovering that in his absence, his apartment has been over by squatters led by an out of work of father and how he handles it is classic. The way the story actually plays out is a bit weak. The vilain is just bizarre and his plot is based on his equating the "American Dream" with the type of dream people have when they sleep. It also seems to suggest that patriotic people who believe in stuff are ones in danger of destroying everything which is actually kind of awful given the level of cynicism out out there. I have to wonder if this story was some veiled critique of objectivism as people under the spell of this evil allege others are taking advantage of them and one person even destroys his own building at the end of Issue 9 ala Howard Roark in the Fountainhead. Either way, I don't think Waid does a good job fleshing out the point if there was one. Grade: C-
Captain America/Iron Man Annual: Iron Man has a battle with a mind controlling villain and gets in a position where he can wipe out everyone's memory of his secret identity having determined that way too many people know it. However, when he starts retelling them, he finds them less than pleased and none are less pleased than Captain America who doesn't appreciate Iron Man violating his rights and the rights of others. But meanwhile Iron Man and Cap have to battle a villain and learn a lesson. I don't much care for this story due to its relativistic bent which doesn't fit Cap at his bent. It's meant to have circumstances show both heroes the other's perspective but that's not really the point of a character like Cap. The story has some good moments, but still it's only so so.
Captain America/Citizen V Annual: Captain America America ends up teaming up with Citizen V, the grandchild of the original character from the Golden Age. This story is by Kurt Busiek rather than Waid and it's actually a fun story. Baron Zemo had pretended to be Citizen V as part of the Thunderbirds in hopes of taking over the world during the time that the Avengers and FF were in another dimension. However, this is the real McCoy who wants to take Zemo down. There's a great World War II flashback of Cap and the original Citizen V in action and a great story of this mysterious hero battling Cap with Baron Zemo. This is a very fun story. Grade: A-
Captain America issue 13: Plausible Deniability: Captain America tries to help a candidate who had tried to get Captain America's endorsement but wound up with the endorse of a Scrull duplicate instead. Cap wants to find out how to help him and how to avoid having Cap involved in politics. At the same time, he has suspicions about the incumbent Congressman that could include him being under the control of one of the moment powerful forces for evil in the Marvel Universe. Decent and well intentioned. Grade: B+
I should also that the book's enhanced by an illustrated text recap of the life and times of the Red Skull (who actually doesn't appear until the next took.)
Overall, this is a decent book, with some ups and downs-though American Nightmare is probably the biggest down in the whole book and that's four issues of Captain America. For my part, I'll probably try and get the next book in this series through interlibrary loan rather than purchase.