Review by: Nick Fovargue

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Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Ron Garney
Covers by Ron Garney and Ed McGuinness

Size: pages
Price: 3.99

Reading this issue I couldn’t help but think that while Jason Aaron seems quite at home writing Ultimate Cap I don’t think he could ever be right to pen a story for the 616 Steve Rogers. It is not just simply that Aaron’s stories tend toward a gritty and violent tone, it has been proven that MU Steve doesn’t need to be written as a boyscout. Instead I think the problem is that the main universe Steve is a man almost entirely without flaws. It is writing his characters’ flaws that Jason Aaron is so good at.

Jason Aaron is a writer of noir and tragedy seemingly by instinct and compulsion. His stories and characters are not just hard-boiled or bad-ass but they are also inescapably tragic as well. Scalped, Aaron’s brilliant Vertigo series, is to me a tragic saga, filled with characters who should know better but can’t seem to escape spiraling down to their fates, unable to resist their circumstances and their own worst demons. In an Aaron story the inner turmoil and conflict seem to bleed through in his main characters no matter what. This is something that just doesn’t fit with a Cap that embodies the best and most heroic in humanity. But for Ultimate Cap, a man who represents both the best and the worst of America, it is an approach that holds real promise.

There isn’t a whole lot of story or character development here in Issue 1 but I have come to trust in Aaron’s work . The plot is pretty old hat, a tale around Steve’s origin as a super-soldier and his responsibility for the consequences of the program and process that created him. But what we see is that Steve is at the mercy of this new foe and that this is a foe who will challenge and shake everything Steve is, believes in and stands for. Aaron hasn’t yet delivered a story that delivers on those themes but we can see the stage being set.

Dispite all of my rambling here about Aaron and his work in this issue, the real star is Ron Garney. Garney is a veteran in the industry but I was not familiar with him before he and Aaron began their work together on Wolverine a few years ago. His somewhat sketchy, scruffy style is a perfect fit for Aaron’s writing. His every line seems to evoke the tone of the story, you feel the anger and violence on the page, you feel the impact and pain when Cap takes a knee in the face. It is this grounded quality in his work even when drawing superheroes that makes Aaron’s writing fit into a world of characters wearing technicolour tights.

Here and in his work on Wolverine, Garney has shown himself to be a great storyteller, as brilliant in choregraphing a fight scene as any of the best. The action flows panel to panel and you get a sense of the pace of the action. You don’t see the panels you see the movement and the scene plays out in front of you. What is more Garney is able to lend a sense of gravity to his figures and their actions; you get a sense that these people and events exist connected to a believable world governed by something akin to the laws of physics.

Few people draw anger and pain, bared teeth or a grimace as well as Garney and a Jason Aaron script gives plenty of opportunity for exactly that. When the new Aaron Wolverine series was announced without Garney on art I was disappointed, these two seem so well matched to work together. The best news to me when Ultimate Captain America was solicited was that Aaron and Garney had found something new to work on. We can only hope they continue to find ways to work together as they have the makings on one of those creative teams that we remember and go back to over and over again.

Story: 4 - Very Good
Art: 5 - Excellent

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