Graphic Novel Review: Captain America: Loose Nuke
11:16 12 May 2014
Can an emotionally and physically shattered Cap pull himself back together in time to defeat the deranged Nuke?
Injecting new depth of characterisation and purpose into a character who first debuted back in 1941, while paying homage to the decades of stories already written about him, was the task writer Rick Remender apparently set himself when he took over penning the adventures of Steve Rogers, the so-called Sentinel of Liberty.
After the catastrophic events of the Castaway in Dimension Z epic, Captain America is not only grieving for the death of his fiancée Sharon Carter and surrogate son Ian Zola, but he finds himself a man further detached from the modern world after spending 12 years in that otherworldly realm while only 30 minutes passed back on Earth.
Cap is off his game, emotionally scarred, distanced from his remaining friends, and displaying a ruthless streak which has never existed before. His experiences in Dimension Z have left him suffering from a form of post-traumatic stress disorder, and only his long-term ally the Falcon is in a position to help, but the presence of mad geneticist Arnim Zola’s apparently reformed daughter, the exile Jet Black, may undermine his efforts.
In Eastern Europe, the deranged super-soldier experiment known as Nuke is wreaking bloody havoc, auspiciously in the memory of American soldiers killed in action, but actually fulfilling the objectives of his unknown masters.
Meanwhile, the flames of war are being stoked by a new player on the global stage, the so-called Iron Nail, an anti-capitalist and adversary of America who gained extraordinary powers from a sleeping Chinese dragon (hey, this is comics, and it’s all done very well so it’s not hard to suspend your disbelief!)…
It’s pretty harrowing stuff, and the sight of Captain America breaking down in tears as the sheer weight of his recent losses takes its toll is an image nobody wants to see. But if there’s anything we’ve come to learn about Steve Rogers over the past decades, it’s that he has the force of will to pull himself back from the brink to overcome any adversity, even the deaths of his lover and surrogate son.
This isn’t easy reading, but you can see where Remender is heading with his approach to the series, as he begins to introduce new characters and themes which are sure to have crucial significance for the rest of his run. Uncomfortable at times, but thoroughly engrossing throughout, this is a fascinating new direction for Captain America which will leave the Avenger forever changed.