Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s celebrated run on Captain America concludes this week with the title’s milestone 700th issue. The journey began during the Legacy launch, setting forth under the daunting mandate of restoring Captain America – both in the fictional comics world and in real-world readers’ perceptions – as a bastion of hope, justice, and perseverance. In this book’s main story, the final chapter of “Out of Time,” Waid & Samnee punctuate their little Steve Rogers futuristic fable with as much “What Captain America Means To Me” mojo as they can muster.
The whole storyline may have felt a little rushed, from the introduction of the criminal organization Rampart through the near-future apocalyptic America, but in this conclusion you really do get the sense that the pair had every intention of crafting what amounts to a superheroic fairy tale more than anything else. On the first day, Cap was undeterred. On the second day, Cap was resolute. But on the third day…
This whole epic could have just as easily worked as one of Marvel’s new Original Graphic Novels: somewhat in continuity, but maybe not entirely… (Except, of course, that no one seems to read those.) Whether or not future creative teams, including the highly anticipated “Fresh Start” launch from Ta-Nehisi Coates and Leinil Yu, recognize any trace elements from this tale remains to be seen. But in the sense that Waid & Samnee beautifully capture their core Cap beliefs in this succinct, albeit era-spanning story, this run can be viewed as a success.
Perhaps more interesting in this landmark issue is the “all-new classic” back-up feature. Inspired by Silver Age six-panel layouts, Waid envisioned a means by which he could script a new Captain America tale using vintage art by Jack Kirby and Frank Giacoia. “The Gantlet” is a mash-up of panels from the artistic duo’s Tales of Suspense-era work, narrating a coherent story that features everything from goofy S.H.I.E.L.D. tech, Batroc the Leaper, and shitty NYC traffic.
Waid explains his process in an article on Marvel.com, detailing the nine-step process that was used to craft this clever collaboration with The King. It’s remarkably straightforward, and actually makes me interested to see more “remixes” that combine the words of an accomplished modern writer with the art of a past legend. I’m also hoping that Marvel knows well enough to take my money (they’re pretty good at this) by offering a Director’s Cut version of this book that footnotes the origin of each one of those panels.