LOOSE NUKE PART 2 Nuke on a rampage! The Weapon Minus program revealed! Meet Dr. Mindbubble, the unbelievable Super Soldier created in the 1960s! Written by Rick Remender with artwork by Carlos Pacheco.
The second arc of Marvel NOW’s Captain America is in full-swing in this issue, with some solid scripting from Remender and compelling art from Pacheco. Shifting gears for a moment, Remender pulls back the focus on Steve’s struggle to resume his old life for some exposition. The story opens in China in 1968 to tease some background information on the Weapon Minus program, setting the stage for Nuke’s psychotic, politically-fueled rampage in Nrosvekistan. This apparently plays into a larger arc surrounding Dr. Mindbubble that Remender’s working on for another book, but, at the moment, it’s all a bit vague. Back in 2013, Steve is still reeling from the deaths of Ian and Sharon, trying to reconcile his twelve years in Dimension Z. A friendly visit from Falcon ends in a confrontation with Jet, who’s staying with Steve until she adapts to life in his dimension, as Sam tries to reach out to Steve. After a sparring session, Steve finally breaks down and tells Sam the truth about his experiences in Dimension Z, talking about his son for the first time.
A definite break in tone from the last arc, this latest story is unfolding nicely so far, balancing the mystery of Nuke and Weapon Minus with Steve’s personal story. Remender manages to strike an interesting equilibrium with this issue, moving the plot along and still giving Steve some space to grieve. I imagine some readers might find the slow pace of the issue a bit trying, but I’m enjoying watching this story play out as Steve comes to terms with everything that happened in Dimension Z. It’s heavy on exposition, from the Mindbubble monologues book-ending the issue to Nuke’s ranting, but for me the pacing works. If I had to find fault with this one, it’s the usual soft spots in Remender’s dialogue, which aims for a more dramatic execution and fall shorts as hokey and long-winded at times. Otherwise, it’s a good script.
Pacheco’s artwork has become a nice addition to this book since beginning this storyline, helping to really establish the tone shift from Romita and Dimension Z. The aerial sequences across New York City during Falcon and Cap’s sparring session are particularly visually pleasing, making the most of some dynamic framing and panel transitions. While the action is quite well-executed, Pacheco’s pencils, with the complement of White and Rosenberg’s color palettes, do the script a service by enveloping Steve’s storyline in an appropriate sense of melancholy. For me, this makes Steve’s emotional journey all the more immediate, and I enjoy this visual exploration of his internal state.
Overall, this is another strong issue in an otherwise interesting storyline. Despite the usual pitfalls, this arc is coming along nicely. Remender seems to be gearing up to something much bigger with his peculiar choice in antagonists, and Pacheco continues to please. Solid stuff all around with this one.