The point of All-New Captain America #1 is to show what new wrinkles Sam Wilson, the artist formerly known as Falcon, brings both physically and mentally to the role. In the time-honored Marvel superhero tradition, he has some internal struggles and general problems adjusting to the mantle of Captain America, but ends up winning out in the end. Or does he? Except for a gorgeous grey and red opening page, which talks about how Sam’s preacher father taught him hope in a higher ideal and a better world even if he grew up in an area torn apart by violence and racism, the focus is on the punching, fighting, and various uses and misuses of that red, white, and blue vibranium shield. Remender hints at negative experiences in Sam’s life and how much he misses his parents in his inner monologue, but there is little connection between this and his mission against a HYDRA base. However, this action is well-rendered and choreographed by Stuart Immonen and the art team. Immonen and inker Wade von Grawbadger take advantage of Sam’s acrobatic fighting style and his wings to craft some of the best fight scenes since Steve Epting drew Captain America. Colorist Marte Gracia tones down the new Captain America costume, but she uses greys to great effect in the opening flashback scene as well as dark reds and blacks during the more pivotal panels.
At least for the first issue, All-New Captain America is back to being an action rather than ideas driven book than Rick Remender’s work on the previous volume. The first two pages offer a sort of thesis that Sam Wilson is fighting for the American dream that his father passed down to him, and that he strived to realize when he was a social worker in Harlem. (If that is still canon.) And Stuart Immonen’s artwork does depict him doing justice to the role of Captain America with clear shots of each punch and kick thrown as well as his humorous realizations of how Cap’s shield is a blessing and a curse. A good word to describe Immonen and von Grawbadger’s art is muscular. Von Grawbadger uses thick inks to give Immonen’s figures definition and then throws them into action with real force behind them. And Marte Gracia adds depth and tone to the art by using a standard digital palette for the action scenes, but obscuring the darks and red when Sam comes to grip with his past or struggles in his new role as Captain America.
There is one seemingly throwaway scene with Batroc that could end up showing the path this title goes down. When Sam fights Batroc (who is portrayed as a competent martial artist underneath the silly mask and mustache), Batroc spends the whole battle spouting out American stereotypes while Sam hits back with some snappy comebacks. Turning Batroc into an anti-American villain is either in keeping with his role as a comically, inept foe or could possibly mean that All-New Captain America is going to focus on cool action instead of saying something bigger about the role of Captain America in society. I am inclined to go with a mixture of the two because at the beginning of the comic, Remender clearly shows that Sam will be coming to grips with the contradictory nature of the American dream. But the way the issue ends makes it seem that he will just be fighting a gauntlet of Cap villains while helping shape Cap’s son (from Dimension Z) Ian or Nomad into a hero. Hopefully, by the end of the first arc, the title will choose which path to go down. All-New Captain America #1 is a dynamically drawn, action-packed start to the new series even if it is lacking in the ideological department at the beginning and focuses on fisticuffs instead of connecting Sam’s feelings in his inner monologue with his actions as Captain America.