REVIEW: Captain America: Living Legend #1
After a long delay, the much anticipated Captain America: Living Legend series has arrived. Written by Andy Diggle and illustrated by Adi Granov, this series has long been on ice, much like the title character. With its debut finally here, what we end up getting so far is a somewhat typical Captain America story in the first half, with a second half that goes off in a different direction that certainly appears to set up for future issues.
The opening of the story is set in the Bavarian Alps in 1945, with the Russians closing in on a German scientist near the end of the war. Diggle introduces us to a young and idealistic soldier named Volkov, who is leading the Russian soldiers on their mission from high command. There is a powerful scene involving the younger Volkov and his dying Captain, who impresses on us just how meaningless and powerless it is to be a Russian soldier. When Cap does show up, there is a memorable action moment involving him using his shield against a tank. The characterization is also spot on for Cap, as we see him defend the surrendering German soldiers against Volkov and those who would wish to execute the enemy. It is times like these that separate Captain America from other heroes and men, as he is a morally strong character that others can look up to. There is a really solid World War II story going on here, as Russian and American soldiers are not only fighting the enemy at the end of the war, but starting to sow the seeds of the Cold War to come.
After the strong start in the Alps, the story becomes somewhat disjointed. The plot jumps to a rocket launch in 1968 with no warning, and then present-day a few pages later with no evident connection. While it is interesting to see Volkov readying for a moon launch in the Soviet Union, it is weird to see the character appear again after what transpires in the first half of the story. The biggest flaw so far is the real lack of an overall idea for what this Captain America story will be about. If the comic can be broken up into four sections based on the different locations shown, then there ends up being four different stories being shown with no broad themes or sense of unity in the story to drive the reader forward. While the ending is enough to want to continue to a second issue, the story has to tighten its focus.
Adi Granov makes this issue a beautiful sight to behold, as his work is very unique. The snow scenes in the beginning of the story are great, with snow falling in each panel and a blurred background effect that really contrasts with the gray and brown colors that the soldiers don for their uniforms. There is a real muted color style going on here, which perfectly echoes the gritty sense of World War II. Granov makes sure to keep Captain America vibrant and colorful to make him stand out both color wise and in stature from the rest of the soldiers present. In the later sections, Granov does have some great panels, including a grimacing Volkov expression during a launch, and a panel sequence involving the transformation of a space station that is somewhat frightening in a way.
Though it has been delayed for so long, Captain America: Living Legend #1 is a solid start to the miniseries, as we see a well characterized Steve Rogers and the art is especially gorgeous. However, it is far from perfect, as the story really did not have a connected feeling and mostly contained set up for future issues. With a new artist coming in for the next issue, it will be interesting to see if the tone of this book will change or how Diggle will try to tie in the loose threads of the story to a more cohesive knot.
Captain America: Living Legend #1 gets a 3.5/5
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