All-New Captain America Special #1 Review: Stillanerd’s Take

All-NewCaptainAmericaSpecial#1--cover“Looks like it’s up to you, me and a team of hormone-ravaged teenagers.”

So after Spidey and everyone else wondering where the Avengers were at when some former golden-age superhero turned madman showed up, it looks like just one Avenger happened to fly to the rescue. And unlike the Nuhumans (who, like Spidey, have names we barely remember), the All-New Captain America actually gets to do some meaningful stuff along with our favorite wall-crawler.

“Inhuman Error, Part 3”

WRITER: Jeff Loveness
ARTIST: Alec Morgan
COLORIST: Nolan Woodard
LETTERER: VC’s Joe Sabino
EDITOR: Nick Lowe

STORY: Sam Wilson, the former Falcon and the current Captain America, is flying through the Manhattan skyline when he see the Aerie and Spidey falling from it. FalCap swoops in to save Spidey and flies him back to the Aerie and the Nuhumans as seen in Inhuman Special #1, and Spidey fills him in on what’s happened. Inside the Aerie, Medusa is fighting the Red Raven’s bird monster minions as Spidey, the Nuhumans, and FalCap arrive from above. FalCap takes on the Red Raven, but the later is more skilled in direct hand-to-hand combat. Spidey tries to help FalCap by throwing Cap’s shield at the Red Raven, but misses. The Inhumans Triton and Gorgon also join in the fight, although Medusa orders them not to kill the Bird Monsters.

Recovering his shield, FalCap decides to change tactics by flying out of the Aerie, forcing Red Raven and the Bird Monsters to pursue him. Red Raven uses his gravity weapons to send FalCap falling, and then tackles him mid-air. However, FalCap telepathically summons flocks of birds of prey to come to his aid, and knocks the Red Raven back down to the Aerie. Suddenly, FalCap gets a psychic feedback and realizes his telepathic link with birds is making him experience the memories Red Raven’s wife, Vera, who is not only still alive but wishes her husband to give up on seeking revenge. Red Raven, however, refuses to listen, and the Nuhumans continue fighting him as he attempts to intensify the Aerie’s gravity beam to destroy New Atillan. Spidey, however, is able to reason with the Red Raven, telling him that he knows what it feels like to lose someone, and points out that if he really wanted to destroy New Atillan like he claimed, he would’ve shot the Aerie’s anti-gravity beam at the city immediately. FalCap adds they can still help Vera and the rest of the Aerie’s citizens, and the Red Raven breaks down in tears, saying that all he wanted was to just have Vera back. But when the Red Raven deactivates the anti-gravity beam, the damage done to the engines during the fighting causes the Aerie to lose power and falls towards Manhattan. Medusa tells Flint to use his powers to move to Aerie away from the city, even though he’s never moved anything as big as the island before. Yet, with the help of Iso, Flint is able to redirect the Aerie the splash harmlessly into the Hudson River, thus saving their lives and all New York.

Red Raven recovers in a hospital and is promised by Medusa that her scientist will find a cure for his people and his wife, and that Black Bolt will answer for what he has done. Red Raven also get a visitor from his old friend and fellow World War II veteran, Steve Rodgers. On the roof of the hospital, Spidey goes to comfort Medusa by offering her a breakfast burrito; he also tells her about Gwen Stacy, and that while he she died because of him, he also knows that he wasn’t Spider-Man, then countless more people would have died, and that, as heroes, they “save as many as [they] can to make up for those we couldn’t.” Medusa accepts the breakfast burrito, and Spidey offers to show her around New York, asking her if she’s been to any of the local hot spots. When Medusa says she and her husband never had, that’s when an embarrassed Spidey finally remembers she’s married to Black Bolt. Still, Medusa says it’s still “sometimes nice to have conservation with someone…and a burrito” which Spidey says is fine by him. The end.

All-NewCaptainAmericaSpecial#1--p19THOUGHTS: After a decent start with Amazing Spider-Man Special #1, a mediocre middle with Inhuman Special #1, “Inhuman Error” manages to finish somewhat strong with All-New Captain America Special #1. With this Special, writer Jeff Loveness also does his best to make the story come full circle, not only in a literal sense with Spidey finally getting to enjoy his interrupted breakfast, but also, just like Amazing Spider-Man Special #1, it’s heavy on the action. And just like with Inhuman Special #1, the title of this comic is misleading, in that despite Loveness’ attempt at bringing Sam Wilson front and center, it’s still very much Spider-Man’s story.

Matter-of-fact, just as it was the case in the last two Specials, it’s Spidey who is far and away the best character in this story. He the gets best lines, the best laughs, proves to be the most heroic, and towards the story’s end, gives the most inspirational speeches. As I’ve stated in the last two reviews about these Specials, Loveness just understands who Peter Parker is on a fundamental level. Spidey isn’t just about making wisecracks and mistakes (although he does do plenty of both here), he’s someone who uses his own history of personal loss as a source of strength, not as means to lash out in anger at the world, but to help others in need. Spidey’s gift of gab does tend to annoy both friends and foe alike, but as Loveness shows, it can also be used to persuade and bring consolation to others, that deep down he’s far more human than superhuman. When he tells the Red Raven how they’re sorry, that “sometimes, monsters are just people who’ve been hurt and ignored for far too long,” it feels sincere, and becomes even more poignant when you remember Peter himself was someone who was also hurt and ignored by his peers. It’s a perfect balance of Spidey as the “class clown” of superheroes and the superhero with the most heart.

Loveness also uses Spidey’s dichotomy in being both comic relief and voice of reason in his interactions with other heroes. His banter with Sam such as asking him what he would do if he found out every bald eagle bird he talked to was a communist, and his constant comparisons to Steve Rodgers is perfect in showing just why someone like Sam would consider Spidey a nuisance even if we, as readers, don’t. Yet through his teasing, we still see Spidey shows Sam respect and does consider him just as worthy of the mantle of Captain America as his predecessor. The closing scene with Medusa is also both heartfelt as it is amusing, even if it does seem reminiscent of the scene from J. Michael Stracynski’s and Fiona Avery’s Amazing Spider-Man #503 and #504 where Spidey shared hot dogs with Loki. Not to mention it’s also another moment where a writer on Spider-Man cannot help to beatify Gwen Stacy as all but proclaim her as Peter Parker’s one true love, though seeing how these Specials are supposed to be comics geared more towards the causal reader, I have no doubt Loveness did this to pander to those who are more familiar with Emma Stone’s portrayal of Gwen in the movies.

All-NewCaptainAmericaSpecial#1--p2Where Loveness falters, however, is his decision to shift to narrative point-of-view from Spider-Man, as it had been during the last two specials, to Sam Wilson. Yes, as this comic does fall under the heading of All-New Captain America, it would make sense for that character to be the focus of said comic. But as I said before, the previous two parts of “Inhuman Error” clearly show it’s Spidey who is the main protagonist of the story, so to then shift almost everything towards Sam’s perspective for the story’s climax makes for a jarring narrative transition. What’s more, him showing up at the Nth hour as he does runs the risk of making him into a deus ex machina, especially as he’s also the one who does most of the fighting with the story’s antagonist and his instrumental in learning some vital bit of information to defeat him.

The other problem is the story treats Sam as though he, like the Nuhmans, is part of the “next generation of heroes.” Sam being the inheritor of the mantle of Captain America makes perfect sense due to his long-time partnership with Steve Rodgers, but it’s also proof he’s not some new breed. He, as the Falcon, is an experienced and capable veteran in his own right, someone who has been a part of Marvel Comics for over forty-five years in publication. It does make sense for Sam to be under pressure to live up to his best friend’s legacy, something which Loveness depicts rather well through Sam’s interior monologue. Unfortunately, Loveness gives us the impression that this the first time Sam has had any experience whatsoever as a superhero. Moreover, having him start by trying to fight like Steve only to realize he should “play to his strengths” feels hollow since, as the Falcon, Sam is already experienced with a certain type of fighting style he’s comfortable with, so him trying to fight like Cap just because he wants to prove he’s worthy of the uniform comes off as false drama. Calling attention to the fact they’re not the same as their predecessor in this way is one of the biggest gripes I have towards this trend of taking well-established characters and giving them the costume or powers of a more prominent (i.e. marketable) superhero—it just reminds you they amount to nothing more than placeholders while also robbing them of their own individuality.

All-NewCaptainAmericaSpecial#1--p28In terms of the artwork, while Alec Morgan does far better work than Ryan Lee did with Inhuman Special #1, it isn’t as wild as Luca Pizzari’s was in Amazing Spider-Man Special #1. That said, Morgan does do some dynamic penciling while also keeping the images simple and straightforward. It’s not groundbreaking by any means, but it does have a clarity which tends to be lacking in most modern comics. It’s a serviceable style well-suited for a visual storytelling medium, but also seems like the kind of art one would associate more with an indie title than an action-fueled superhero slugfest.

Overall, I found myself enjoying “Inhuman Error” and Specials far more than expected, and while it was definitely intended to promote both the Inhuman and All-New Captain America titles via Spider-Man, it also made for a halfway-decent Marvel Team-Up. In hindsight, it may have worked better had the story stuck to one artist as it did using one writer, and kept the focus on Spider-Man throughout. No doubt Marvel will collect these Specials together in trade and, if they’re smart, title it The Amazing Spider-Man: Inhuman Error. This comic, and the others before it, I wouldn’t call essential reading, but it did prove to be a fun one all the same.



  • Compared to how he was at the end of Inhuman Special #1, Sam Wilson is a lot more stoic and gruff in this issue. So I guess, given how much Spidey was starting to get on his nerves, that smile he gave to the Nuhumans was one of those really, really forced smiles one gives when when they’re really, really uncomfortable as you silently scream “Dear God, somebody help me!”
  • All right, first the Aerie was shown to be an artificial island made of steel and concrete in Amazing Spider-Man Special #1. Then it was shown to be made of real island stone and rock in Inhuman Special #1. Now it’s back to being a artificial island again. And yet, at one point Medusa points out the Aerie is made of rock and thus allowing Flint to be able to manipulate and move it due to what amounts to his earth-bending powers. So it the Aerie a natural island or isn’t it?
  • Silly Spidey. Don’t you know that the only way to throw Captain America’s adamantium/vibranium shield and have it always come back to you no matter where you throw only works if you’re also dressed like Cap? Guess all that time you spent with Steve wasn’t very well-spent.
  • Okay, I don’t care how nefarious a person you’ve been, having your inner lip being bitten and pulled by an eagle’s beak look extremely painful as it is squeamish. Heck, I’m surprised the Red Raven still had an upper lip after that.
  • Oh man! Why did Spidey have to buy some more of those would-be Starbucks Breakfast Burritos? Now I’m getting the hankering for some gourmet Mexican food and overpriced coffee again, but the closest thing nearby is Taco Bell. Curse you, Spider-Man!

(11) Comments

  1. Jason

    What a refreshing mini-series. Loveness breathed life back into Spider-Man. How I've missed the witty banter. It's one of the reasons I was initial drawn to Spider-Man. I wish Slott would take note.

  2. Shaun Martineau

    Like others in the comments, I have to commend yea for your views on the Spider-Man character. This is an excellent write-up of who Spider-Man should be. Nicely done.

  3. Jack

    The beatification of Gwen is weird, since she had the seeds of an interesting real character: rich daughter of one of New York's most politically-important people; a cop's daughter; lost her mother; and a character arc from scornful and haughty HS queen-bee to something better, though cut short by death.

  4. Al

    @#7-The idealisation of Gwen is at best annoying and at worst probelmatic and reductive. Canonically she wasn't like that at all. It'd be one thing if we 'revealed' she was in fact like that or if Peter acknowledged he's looking back with nostalgia goggles. But this is just perpetuating a falsehood about the character which led to decries over her death+calls fo her resurrection and asinine comparisons between her and Mary Jane.

  5. RDMacQ

    @#3- Stillanerd- I think the general attitude towards Gwen in the books for years has been that she has essentially been "canonized" into sainthood. I don't really see any difference between this and the whole thing about Gwen being so amazing and awesome that she would have reformed Norman Osborn had he "Just gotten to really know her" during Paul Jenkin's Green Goblin story (I LOVE that climax, but dear GOD that part was painful) or the Earth X "Peter only love Gwen, and only married MJ because of guilt, and secretly wanted to be with her his entire life" sort of nonsense, that came about LONG before the ASM movies.

  6. Riablo

    I like this review. I especially liked the part where Stillanerd anaylises why the author understands the character. “Spidey isn’t just about making wisecracks and mistakes” is very apt. Personally I think one of the reasons whyI think Dan Slott’s Spider-man hasn’t been very good is largely because Dan Slott believes wisecracks and mistakes is what solely defines the character (which is why Slott’s Spider-man comes across as a goofball/manchild that’s always making mistakes). Comparing that with Loveness’ interpretation of the character and you get a character who uses their personal loss as a source of strength to help out others (whilst making wisecracks on the side). It’s classic Spider-man. I hope that someone like Loveness or Conway takes over ASM once Secret Wars is over.

  7. Stillanerd - Post author

    @#1 RDMacQ -- Oh, in the context of the story, I completely agree; Spidey talking about Gwen makes complete sense given the subject of loss and how it contrasts the way Red Raven was trying to cope what happened with his wife. I'm was more or less pointing out that the Gwen Stacy Spidey describes is more apt when pertains to the Gwen Stacy of the Amazing Spider-Man films, not the Amazing Spider-Man comics. @#2 Sean -- Thanks, Sean, and I sympathize with you wanting to find some good comics but have some trepidation due to sticker shock. I'm sure there are some of my fellow Spider-Man Crawlspacers who can offer some very good if not better suggestions, but speaking for myself, you can't go wrong with getting a reprint of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's run on Amazing Spider-Man, because there's nothing wrong with starting at the beginning. Not only does their 38 issue run introduce almost every single classic supporting character and villain, it contains some genuine classic stories. You can get the first volume of Amazing Spider-Man: The Essentials which I believe has Spider-Man's origin from Amazing Fantasy #15, along with the first 20 issues of Amazing Spider-Man and the 1st Annual. The second Essentials volume reprints Amazing Spider-Man #21-#43, along with Amazing Spider-Man Annuals #2-3. However, The downside is the Essentials collects a lot of issues, it's printed in black and white. If you want color reprints, there's the Marvel Masterworks edition of The Amazing Spider-Man, with each volume collecting about 10 or so issues each. Both Marvel Essentials and Masterworks you can find at Barnes and Noble and Amazon, and the Kindle versions of Marvel Masterworks Amazing Spider-Man are $10 each. Also, check to see if your local public library has them, as I know mine does.

  8. Sean

    I have follow mostly spidey comics but these reviews make me curious about the Inhumans and the new Captain America. I really like your review but given that the second issue of this special is lack luster and you gave this only B I do not know if I would pick it up especially because of the comic book prices these days. The part of your review I like the most is when you describe the writer's expertise at writing Peter Parker. I'm a relatively new comic book reader so if you could suggest some good Peter Parker stories/moments like the one's you mention in your review; I would greatly appreciate it.

  9. RDMacQ

    I don't really see the praising of Gwen as something that was done to proclaim her as Peter's One True Love. It's just that, for this story, the comparison makes sense. Peter has something in common with the bad guy, and it causes him to reflect on that towards the end. It's not as bad as it got during the early parts of BND, where it was like she was the ONLY person Peter could have EVER loved (until a particular female i.e. whichever writer's favorite love interest was in the story at the time came into the story to save the day). It was something that actually fit within the narrative.

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