Captain America’s Current Series Is Steve Rogers’ Best Depiction In Years


Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, is one of Marvel Comics’ most iconic heroes, and his current ongoing series is doing an amazing job of depicting the character in all its complexity. Steve’s connection to the United States of America is a unique feature in the world of superheroes, which is being addressed by the authors of Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty with a nuanced approach that makes the story really compelling.

Steve Rogers is literally a walking flag. No other character from Marvel Comics, and in the mainstream superhero genre, shares such a deep connection to one specific country. Steve comes from a time when nationalism and patriotism were not just values, they were requirements, especially for a soldier. Far from making him one-dimensional, however, this actually makes Captain America a really complex character that can be difficult to write, especially when authors want to engage with contemporary, real-world issues. The questions that often need to be answered in Captain America’s stories are: what does Captain America think of his country, and what does his country think of him?

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Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty, by Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, Carmen Carnero, and Nolan Woodard, focuses on Steve Rogers’ status as a symbol, and what this means for his fellow Americans. The series begins with Steve moving back to the apartment where he lived as a kid, “to remember what it means to be an everyday American“. True to his word, Steve engages with his neighbors, joins a community college, and makes new friends among the civilians. However, he does not create a secret identity to do that, because that would be against his purpose. In issue #4, after learning that the symbol on his shield actually belongs to an evil secret society called the Outer Circle, Steve goes around asking the “everyday Americans” he befriended: “What does the shield mean to you?“. The answers are a perfect representation of the complexity that being a hero called Captain America entails, but also of how powerful and inspiring the character can be.

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The shield represents America, so it can be a symbol of corruption and injustice, but also of hope, rescue, and change. Even Captain America’s socialist friend, Arlo Wright, believes in the American Dream, although he gives it his own unique spin. This is the message of the series: it doesn’t matter who created the symbol and who pretends to own it, it’s the man who wears it, and those who believe in it, that give the symbol its meaning. Captain America is not a flag, or a country, he is a man called Steve Rogers, who makes his choices every day, and these are the values he stands for. “That’s what they don’t understand about us,” Steve says, talking about the Outer Circle (who represent every possible abuse of a symbol), “We can choose our place.“

It’s an interesting spin on the character, which focuses on the human side of Captain America as a way to understand what he represents as a hero. The Steve Rogers depicted here is far from the Avengers leader, the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., or the living legend that fans are used to. This is a much more grounded version of the character, one that tries to answer the difficult question of what it means to be a symbol for an entire country without shying away from the controversies. For all these reasons, this is the best depiction of Steve Rogers and Captain America seen in Marvel Comics in years.

Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #4 is available now from Marvel Comics.

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