Captain America: Who Won’t Wield The Shield?

Written by Jason Aaron, Matt Fraction, and Stuart Moore
Art by Mirco Pierfederici, Brendan McCarthy, and Joe Quinones
32 pages, color
Published by Marvel

I appreciate that Marvel has a sense of humor about itself these days. That’s a good thing, really, it shows that they aren’t taking themselves too seriously. But of course, humor is a subjective thing, and parody doubly so. With all that in mind, I’m not entirely sure who at Marvel first thought a one-shot titled Captain America: Who Won’t Wield The Shield? was a brilliant publishing strategy. To me, more often than not it feels like a series of inside jokes rather than something that the general readership might find amusing.

The comic opens and closes with a story by Jason Aaron and Mirco Pierdeferci, in which parody character Forbush Man is brought back as a deadly assassin (a la Bucky’s revival as the Winter Soldier in Captain America), and who then hunts down comic creators Ed Brubaker and Jason Aaron. The problem is, it’s not a terribly funny story. I’m not sure who out there even finds Forbush Man funny (has anyone, ever?), and parodies of comic creators (with more to come in the epilogue) makes me feel like this is a comic that would be better published through Marvel’s digital line, where presumably most of that readership is just as familiar with how some of the creators like to use Twitter or that Stephen Wacker looks young. This story just falls flat from start to finish; it’s sort of like an in-joke among a bunch of friends that was hysterical when it was first conceived, but feels dull when you try to recount it to anyone else who wasn’t there at that precise moment.

Next up is Matt Fraction and Brendan McCarthy creating a character called Doctor America, Occult Operative of Liberty. It’s a bizarre merging of Doctor Strange and Captain America, and while it’s the most successful piece in the book, it’s also the least like an actual story. It’s really more a bunch of strange illustrations and moments strung together, with what I can only call "word jazz" bridging all of the drawings together. Fraction’s script is thoroughly off the wall and insane, which is the only way one could ever really write a comic for McCarthy to draw. I’m fairly certain that if you look at McCarthy’s art for too long that the world around you will start melting, and I say that in the nicest possible way. It’s an explosion of madness (which makes it apt that McCarthy was the cover artist on Shade the Changing Man for quite a while), and while I can’t say that a serving of this every month would be a good thing, it’s easily the reason to buy Captain America: Who Won’t Wield The Shield? more than anything else

The other story in the book is from Stuart Moore and Joe Quinones, in yet another trip to the well of Deadpool that every comic in Marvel seems to dip into these days. Deadpool becoming "Weapon Swastika" (rather than Weapon X) is the high point of this script; in many ways it’s a Deadpool story on autopilot with a different setting. It’s not bad, but in a glut of Deadpool stories and one-shots and mini-series and ongoing series (please don’t collect them all, kids), there’s nothing that makes it stand out in that regard. Even Quinones’s normally gorgeous art (his work on Wednesday Comics was amazing) is just all right here; it’s got Quinones’s normal smooth style, but maybe it’s the lack of anything out of the ordinary to draw that makes the book look rather uninspired.

If Captain America: Who Won’t Wield The Shield? was a test-run to see if Marvel could bring back their old What The–?! parody comic, on a storytelling level I don’t think it succeeded. The majority of the comic is dull, and aside from the Doctor America story, the ultimate reaction it evokes is, "Are we done yet?" All of the creators involved in this comic are normally capable of much better; I wish I wasn’t so disappointed with the end result.

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