The year is 1940; during that summer the World’s Fair is hosted in Queens New York. During “Negro Week” we find Isaiah Bradley and his wife, Faith in attendance. Faith is talking to Isaiah about some of the ideas of the expected speaker for that day, W.E.B. du Bois. They drift down to the amusement area, where Isaiah attempts to buy two tickets into the international beauties show. The carny denies Isaiah entry, saying that his presence would make the girls uncomfortable. Isaiah is visibly disturbed, saying that since it is Negro week he didn’t understand the problem. Faith calms Isaiah and asks him not to cause trouble. Next we meet Maurice Canfield. Maurice and his family are well off, but Maurice still suffers from the same treatment as any other Black, plus Maurice works with a Jewish friend as an organizer of workers, which keeps him in trouble with the law. Maurice is returning home this December evening; battered and bloodied; from a night of trying to organize a group of black stevedores, which, after a heated exchanged with a white rally-goer, garnered him a beat down. After relating the tale to his mother, she reminds him that not only is he 25 years old, but he has a station in life. Just then, his father walks in the door. Moving ahead, in June of 1941 we meet Sgt. Luke Evans. A veteran of WWI, Evans once had the nickname “Black- Cap”, stop using it after he was demoted. Luke is shooting pool with one of his friend who was just released from prison after a 6 year bid. Sgt. Evans tells him the story of what happened surrounding the demotion. Sgt. Evans tells his friend that the pool table is the only place you can push “whitey” around. In December 1941 war breaks out. Isaiah was drafted into the service, Sgt. Evans, who was on the verge of suicide, found himself with purpose again. Maurice, having had to appear in court on charges of sedition, is sentenced to joining the military. The issue closes with Isaiah promising a pregnant Faith he would return. Writer, Robert Morales and artist Kyle Baker turn in an exciting addition to the Captain America legend.
Story- Robert Morales has added another layer to the Captain America mythos. This layer is very, very believable; the issue is strewn with historical fact. This adds to the strength of the story. The most enduring and endearing thing about Captain America is his status as a solider/ war veteran. That position enables him to cross all barriers, be it racial, social, or economic. There was indeed a Negro Week at the world’s fair in 1940. The Japanese did attack in 1941 which thrust America into WWII, and the role of the Black solider was greatly expanded, yet he faced the same discrimination as the non-military black; sometimes worst. It is not a stretch to believe that the Super Solider serum would have been tested before unveiled, and given the attitude of the day, and the very real Tuskegee experiments, it is not a stretch to believe the test would have been conducted on black soldiers. This issue sets up the characters. We see that all three have had very strong and negative experiences dealing with whites in authority, and we will see how this plays out through the story.
Art- the art has an abstract look to it. The straight lines give the faces a hard-look, and since the story itself has a noir-esque feel, this plays right into the story. there is not a lot of detail, but this is not distracting.
Marvel Universe Continuity- It is said that Isaiah Bradley is the inspiration for a good majority of black super heroes; particularly those in the northern cities. Isaiah Bradley was the special guest at the wedding of Black Panther and Storm, and his son Josiah X has appeared in comics, particularly the book “The Crew”, and his grandson Eli Bradley, also known as The Patriot, is currently a member of the Young Avengers. His entire being is to serve as a reminder that the government/military complex has long buried secrets, and no one; not even the sentinel of liberty, is immune.
Art- The abstract look may throw off readers, but the panels are clear without a lot of shadows.
This is definitely a book that every comic book collector, no matter their ethnicity, should have on their shelves. Very rarely can you add on to a character with a mythos like Captain America, and pull it off, but that is exactly what Robert Morales did. 5/5
Review submitted by Black Heroes member Marcus .H. Roberts