Graphic Novel Review: Captain America: Living Legend

10:38 25 February 2014

Captain America: Living Legend

Captain America: Living Legend

Archant

Cap comes face-to-face with an alien menace with its origins in the Cold War

(Panini Books)

The sliding timescale of Marvel history, which establishes the formation of the Fantastic Four as around 11 years ago, means the length of time Steve Rogers spent frozen in ice from the end of WWII has grown exponentially larger.

So whereas chronologically he made his return to the modern world in Avengers issue 4 (cover dated March 1964) at the peak of the Cold War, nowadays he can be considered to have been operational for about a decade, putting his resurrection in the midst of George W Bush’s presidency.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it opens the door to a whole range of new stories for the character, something writer Andy Diggle celebrates in this mini-series exploring the legacy of the Soviet Union and its attempts to win the Space Race.

In the dying days of the Second World War, Cap joins forces with a squad of Russians to take out a Nazi fortress, in the process saving the life of ruthless and idealistic soldier Volkov.

Flash forwards to the 1960s, and Cosmonaut Volkov is set to become the first man to land on the Moon, until something goes drastically wrong when he orbits the satellite’s hitherto unexplored dark side…

In the present day, Cap witnesses the destruction of a space station experimenting with new forms of energy, and reveals a link to the long-lost Volkov. How is the Cosmonaut still alive decades after his original space mission, and why have the Russians been keeping him prisoner since 1968?

The sentinel of liberty must forge an uneasy alliance between East and West for the sake of the entire planet, as the truth behind Volkov’s transformation is revealed at last…

Despite losing celebrated artist Adi Granov after the first chapter, the quality of artwork doesn’t suffer at the hands of replacement Agustin Allessio, with both creators crafting a chilling tale of alien infiltration which owes much to John Carpenter’s classic The Thing.

There has been an increasing trend for Captain America stories of late to bridge different time zones, drawing on his experiences during the Second World War to shape his present day activities, something this story taps into while also recognising the socio-political changes which occurred during his time in suspended animation.

A self-contained adventure tinged with science-fiction horror and cross-cultural conflict, and a worthy release to celebrate Cap’s return to our cinema screens next month.

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