Captain America #700
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Chris Samnee
Publisher: Marvel Comics
What is the best way to kill Captain America?
That is without doubt a question that many a Marvel super villain, fan and comic book writer would have spent much time pondering.
Well, ponder no more, for writer Mark Waid and artist Chris Samnee have achieved the impossible. They manage to kill off Captain America in the most heroic and stylish manner possible AND somehow make him more alive than ever at the same time.
Now, before you start screaming about spoilers, let us be clearer. Yes, Captain America dies in this issue, but he is also still alive at the end of it. Look, it’s a bit of a long story, but the point here isn’t how he dies (though he does so in spectacular fashion), but what his death means to the character moving forward.
In their short six-issue arc, Samnee and Waid have managed to redeem a character whose reputation had been tarnished and dragged through the mud by the events of Secret Empire, and forced Steve Rogers to rethink what it means to be Captain America.
Captain America #700 is the fitting finale for a story that began with a disillusioned Steve wandering America searching for his purpose before being frozen in ice by a terrorist organisation called Rampart, and being thawed out in the year 2025 into an war-torn America ruled by a crazed king.
After overthrowing said king in the previous issue, #700 sees Steve take on a mantle that he is plainly uncomfortable with – leading a country besieged by outside enemies, as the King of America!
Now, a lesser writer would probably try to stretch this story arc out longer. But once Steve assumes that heavy mantle, Waid chooses to keep things simple by showing us Cap’s leadership style in simple panels and quick fire lines. He shows us this through snippets in time, jumping days, weeks, even months … until something catastrophic happens to make Steve question his values and methods, and accept the notion that there are some things that even Captain America cannot solve with hope and willpower.
At this point, revealing more about the story would truly be spoiling it for you, but trust us when we tell you that Waid and Samnee have managed to craft a story that is both a self-contained character study of Steve Rogers, and a pocket-sized epic that encapsulates everything Captain America represents.
And yes, Waid and Samnee manage to kill him off without actually killing him off. Now that’s some achievement.
Oh, and there’s even a bonus story with Waid writing the script and dialogue for a set of unpublished artwork by Captain America creator Jack Kirby! We can’t think of a better tribute to both Captain America’s past and future than that.
Now, it’s one thing to put out a comic book celebrating a certain title’s milestone issue but it’s another to make it memorable. Thankfully, Captain America #700 doesn’t disappoint in that respect.