This past weekend comic book stores around the nation celebrated the annual Free Comic Book Day and with it offered a wonderful array of new, free comics for readers, new and old, to sample and hopefully fall in love with. One of those titles was the FCBD Captain America title that aimed to give readers a sample of what to expect in writer Nick Spencer and artist Jesus Saiz Steve Rogers: Captain America #1 when it launches later this month.
This preview Captain America story is a fine palate cleanser and introduction to the upcoming story and the cast that will be involved, but as a title meant to excite potential readers it gets a bit bogged down in the technical and strategic operations of Cap’s anti-terrorism team to really deliver any lasting feelings or interest in these characters. I have a hard time imagining that this story will result in the recruitment of many new readers who aren’t already reading the title. Additionally, with the return of the generic faces of Hydra and Cap’s most common enemies (Red Skull, Crossbones, Sin, etc.), the story itself is too familiar to hook readers who’ve gone through that dance several times before.
For this site’s purposes and interests, this title features a backup story that teases the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man “Dead No More” storyline and presents the final teaser image of the event for the first time in print form. The story, written by Dan Slott and penciled by Javier Garron, does a decent job quickly getting readers up to speed with Peter’s new status quo but the story contained within is clearly aimed at readers who’ve been keeping up with the series and are excited for the “Dead No More” tale. To that point, this basic beats of this story, the fight with Rhino and the Kingpin, will be familiar to lapsed readers but the finer teases will likely go right over the heads of those who casually picked this book up from a stack of free comics.
Spider-Man gets a visually exciting introduction, similar to the last issue of the comic, with him doing his typical motions of suiting up while climbing a building, this time utilizing whatever sophisticated tech it is that allows him to do so. Garron’s depiction of San Francisco is detailed and stunning, capturing the dizzying heights of Spider-Man swinging through the coastal city.
A chilling and brutal fight between the Rhino and Kingpin calls Spidey into action, the motivations behind which suggest that not only does the Man in Red command a strong emotional control over his minions but also that he’s looking to extend his reach far behind that of Spider-Man, despite seeming to focus primarily on his extended supporting cast. Speaking of our crimson friend, readers are treated to his first big reveal here (still not his face) and that of his Egyptian lair and Gwen Stacy partner in crime. The design of the hideout and the manner in which he and Gwen speak is chilling and suggests a villainous romance that I reluctantly am interested to see play out. That jackals surround the throne he sits on only makes me more certain of my theory of whom the man behind the mask is.
This FCBD title is unlikely to bring new readers to either the Steve Rogers: Captain America title or the Amazing Spider-Man title despite the level of craft involved in both short stories. Of the two, the Spider-Man story is both more fun and does a better job of teasing the future "Dead No More" storyline. As far as free comics are concerned, readers certainly will feel their time was well spent.