Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates & Bob Quinn
Artist(s): Matt Milla
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover(s): Alex Ross
Release Date: 5th August 2020
Nothing good ever happens in Madripoor, and this issue is no exception! We’re up to issue 21, and we get yet another issue where the story barely moves along, and a WOW! Moment that falls spectacularly flat. Let’s dig in and see what’s happening.
We open up in Madripoor, the world capital of kidnapping, torture, and secret villain hideouts. The shadowy Power Elite are still up to their elitist machinations, and if you needed a reminder on just how “Super Villain” the Power Elite are, we’re literally slapped in the face with the fact that time Aleksander and Alexa Lukin are providing underage slaves for a slave auction, all in exchange for “influence”. We cut to Adamsville, a generic backwater city in the USA where the Lukin’s have set up Selene to feed on the souls of stupid American men. Selene and Aleksander have an ominous call, and in a move that anyone who has ever read a Cap comic before can see, The Red Skull is back pulling strings in the background.
Meanwhile, in Adamsville, Cap and Falcon go undercover using Wakandan tech. While Sam morphs into a paunchy middle-aged white man, Cap’s disguise is… to put on a flannel shirt grow a shaggy beard. He apparently is still 6’3 and still ripped enough to barely fit in his white t-shirt. They meet up with Alvin, and Cap can’t manage to play it cool for more than one sentence. Alvin mentions “Consultations” and Cap immediately asks “Can you tell us anything about that”? Be a little less obvious, will ya Cap? Anyway, Adamsville is a nice little town where the men build things and live off the land. Selene holds a sermon every Sunday to get them whipped up in a fervor, then chooses who she’ll steal the soul of with her stone. Bucky wanders in from… somewhere? And Cap and his team decloak.
A quick jump back to Madripoor where Alexa is taken to dance by the auctioneer, and a not too happy about it Aleksander is the victim of a monologuing valet.
Back in Adamsville, Cap and team decide that they’ve gathered enough intel and go in, all guns metaphorically blazin’. Selene whips the townspeople into a frenzy, and soon enough it seems Cap, living legend of WW2, and Super Soldier at the peak of human physical perfection will have to fight off a town full of out of shape middle-aged men in flannel and truckers hats.
As William Tauren (the Madripoor auctioneer) heads home in the limo, predictably being a lecherous cad, In a move, no one could have seen coming (insert a heavy dose of sarcasm) the valet… is The Red Skull!
Coates once again moves this book along so slowly that this issue could literally have been told in 5 pages. What should have been a shocking revelation (or a least a ‘wow’ moment falls flat, as the Valet in the ballroom monologuing is CLEARLY not what she appears, and her choice of words could have only been the Red Skull, with his incessant monologuing. We still don’t really know what the Power Elite are or what they do, other than ‘be influential’. I get that they are supposed to be a vague allusion to the Illuminati (the real world one, not the Marvel group), but at some point, you have to give us more. A group of rich, powerful businesspeople being self-serving and selfish isn’t exactly a bombshell or unheard of. Now The Red Skull is involved, it’s sort of a lot of blah. Every Cap writer feels the need to go back to the Red Skull. If there’s any villain that’s played out besides maybe the Joker, The Red Skull is it. Let’s get to something new!