Sunday, March 12, 2023

Adventure Superhero Trade Paperback Review: Captain America - First Vengeance

Captain America: First Vengeance was an 8-part Marvel Cinematic Universe tie-in comic by Marvel Comics that was collected into a trade paperback. It takes place in 1944. Captain America and the Howling Commandos, assisted behind the scenes by Howard Stark, infiltrate the base wherein the Red Skull is holed up with the space stone-powered tesseract. This is an event that takes place in Captain America: The First Avenger. However, that story is saved for the film, and the meat of the story is told in flashbacks from the 1930s to 1944, detailing the events leading up to The First Avenger.

A flashback details how Steve Rogers having tough times in his childhood led to him becoming the man worthy of getting the super soldier serum and taking the name of Captain America. The strength he gets from his experiences serves him well as, in 1944, he jumps out of an allied plane towards the Nazi stronghold that holds the villainous Red Skull.

On the opposite end of virtue are flashbacks of Johann Schmidt becoming a part of, and then infiltrating, the Nazi party. He is shown to be a cold, calculating man who kills anyone who stands in his way. He spares very few people, but the German scientist Arnim Zola is one of the lucky few. Zola was supplying the Nazis with huge mechanical suits of armor, but Schmidt was only interested in improving humankind, not augmenting it with technology. After watching "What If... Peggy Carter Were the First Avenger?", it's fun to see the parallel between Howard Stark's Hydra Stomper and Zola's mechanical augments.

The comic also shows how Johann Schmidt and Steve Rogers would cross paths, with Schmidt forcing Abraham Erskine, a scientist doing research on improving the abilities of humans, to come back to Germany after he tried to flee with his wife and son. Schmidt made Erskine create a super soldier serum, and Rogers repeatedly went to army recruitment offices in the hopes that he could serve his country in World War II. As shown in the film, they were both given the serum, with drastic differences in the results.

Other flashbacks detail how Howard Stark creates his shield made of vibranium, a metal that absorbs kinetic energy, which he says his employees discovered in deepest Africa. This is another instance where it is interesting to read this after the Infinity Saga has ended because Black Panther demonstrated a whole city made of vibranium as well as nefarious men from the west that seek to steal it. Since Stark sent his cronies to Africa, it's very likely that they stole it themselves with or without Stark knowing how they did it. Stark is a morally grey character, so either is as likely as the other.

It was also fun to see Peggy Carter infiltrate Hydra by serving as a servant girl named Eva so that she could get close enough to Erskine to free him and take him out of Germany. Agent Carter short showed how she has no fear to complete missions and the Agent Carter television show showed how she was skilled in speaking with different accents and disguising herself to complete her mission. Carter is one of my favorite Marvel characters, so it was fun to get her backstory as well.

Captain America: First Vengeance is a great comic that adds a backstory to the events of Captain America: The First Avenger. This is very welcome as the film was a lot of fun, but the explanation of how Steve Rogers became Captain America and how Johann Schmidt became the Red Skull came and went so quickly. Even after the Infinity Saga, this is one comic that still fits nicely in the sacred timeline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Final Verdict:
4 out of 5

Captain America: The First Avenger Review

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