Review by Frank Plowright
While Steve Rogers is the primary Captain America, and the person who first befriended Harlem social worker Sam Wilson, there are periods when others have been conscripted as the living symbol of America. Most have worn the same costume and the public have been none the wiser, but that’s not an option for an African American, and besides which, Sam can fly, so why give that up? However, not everyone’s happy at the idea of Sam stepping in, and no matter his part in bringing down terrorist organisation Hydra, he no longer has S.H.I.E.L.D. backing, clearance or access to their facilities. This, by the way is S.H.I.E.L.D. featuring a highly ranked Steve Rogers, no longer available for combat duty due to being an old man (see The Tomorrow Soldier).
Nick Spencer is better known for his sitcom projects, but plays this straight, introducing several real world hot potatoes amid questions about what really represents America. Is it the Sons of the Serpent and their violent border patrols preventing immigration? Is it the person leaking documents showing S.H.I.E.L.D. involved in ethically murky activities in the name of protection, or those activities themselves? Is exploiting others in the name of consumer best value justifiable? Spencer has Sam publicly take a side, and combines his characterisation of a concerned individual with good uses of Sam’s abilities, including some that other writers have seen no value in and ignored. Can anyone hide from him, for instance, when he’s psychically connected with every bird in the country? Spencer also develops a credible schism between Sam and Steve, which becomes quite the cleverly manufactured situation once events of Steve Rogers Captain America kick in.
With Daniel Acuña drawing half the book and Paul Renaud, then Joe Bennett following, there are no artistic problems, and Spencer’s reconfiguration of assorted snippets of Captain America’s past is both respectful and inventive. Not My Captain America is a set of very good superhero stories, viably rebooting several old enemies and throwing some considerable surprises into the mix as seen by Acuña’s sample art. Another is the reconfiguration of Redwing, Sam’s actual falcon buddy. However, not everyone appreciates a side order of political lectures along with their superhero action, and while it doesn’t predominate, it is there, and with a viewpoint. If that puts you off, you’re not going to be following into Standoff.