Sam Wilson, Captain America, has been put through the ringer by writer Nick Spencer lately. After fending off USAgent and letting a senator die on his watch, the former Falcon could use some time in Captain America: Sam Wilson #15 to unwind with the greatest of all-American pastimes — ‘rasslin’! Will Sam get some relief, or will the action spill out into the Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation Universe?! Is it good?
Captain America: Sam Wilson #15 (Marvel Comics)
If that name sounds familiar, you’ve got a good eye for classic cheese. The wrestling league for superhumans was introduced in the 1980s Thing series so Aunt Petunia’s baby boy could toss around the lady Grapplers and, yes, the Power Tools. But the real hero of the UCWF was Sam Wilson’s less-than-trusty sidekick D-Man, “Demolition” Dennis Dunphy.
In Captain America: Sam Wilson #15, D-Man returns to his old slamming grounds for charity, and Joaquín Torres, the new Falcon, is all about it. He somehow convinces the quarreling pair of Sam and the forgotten teenage hero Rage to squash their beef long enough so they can help Dunphy and the returning Battlestar (of all characters!) foil a crime so boneheadedly dastardly it would make Snidely Whiplash blush. In doing so, “Not My” Captain America learns the true meaning of patriotism. Or Christmas. Same diff, right?
Well, SOMEONE on this creative team is a real-life wrestling fan ….
Is It Good?
Cap, and more importantly, the readers, needed some light-hearted fun after the emotionally draining events of the previous couple issues, but sadly, Captain America: Sam Wilson #15 can’t quite deliver. The intent of this issue is welcome, but the execution is off. Spencer’s tendency to narrate through thought boxes, while usually not too intrusive, kicks into overdrive here when the art should probably carry more of the action, without so much wordy explanation of the story.
And the pencils by not-series regular artist Angel Unzueta leave something to be desired, too, when the story does let the wrestling loose. Anatomy and body proportions are well-accomplished, no easy feat to be sure, but in a genre that epitomizes movement, the figures instead seem static. The colors by John Rauch are bright and vibrant, just as those in wrestling should be, but uneven inks make the characters look pasted onto the backgrounds at times, as if they don’t cast proper shadows.
Captain America: Sam Wilson #15 is one of the lesser issues of an otherwise standout series, not because it deliberately changes the book’s tone, but because it falls short of its goal, as Nick Spencer can’t quite conjure the comedic magic he summoned in Astonishing Ant-Man and Superior Foes of Spider-Man. As powerfully well-done as Sam Wilson #’s 13 and 14 were, nearly any subsequent issue would have paled in comparison. This one was limping in with a folding chair-damaged kneecap before that bell even rang.