CAPTAIN AMERICA #697: A Moderately Thrilling Hunt

CAPTAIN AMERICA #697 continues the understated yet powerful run from creators Mark Waid, Chris Samnee, and Matthew Wilson. Kraven the Hunter sets his sights on the Sentinel of Liberty, which leads to a mostly enjoyable venture.

This is probably the weakest issue of the series thus far, but it’s not at all bad. The pacing is just a bit clunky. Besides that, though, this is still a pretty exciting installment. I mean, how often do you see Captain America fight a leopard?

CAPTAIN AMERICA #697: Cap vs. Kraven (Sort of)

CAPTAIN AMERICA #697 stars Kraven the Hunter as the villain. Kraven is easily one of Spider-Man’s most versatile foes. He’s also shown up in other series from time to time. He played a minor role during the AVENGERS: STANDOFF event, teaming up with Baron Zemo to capture Kobik, the sentient cosmic cube.

For Kraven, Captain America represents the next “ultimate challenge.” I say “next” because I’m pretty sure Kraven’s ultimate challenge changes almost every time the guy appears in a comic. That being said, Kraven does bring an interesting bag of tricks and traps with him this time around. He tests Cap and views him very much as prey. Steve quickly rebuts the idea of being treated as such.


CAPTAIN AMERICA #697 page 6. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

The challenges presented by Kraven are unique in that they aren’t as over-the-top as you might expect. Given his extensive history with trapping and hunting, they’re pretty tame. There are spike pits, camouflaged snakes, rock slides, and landmines. Normally, when you think about Kraven the Hunter, you imagine some pretty gruesome stuff. I mean, just look at “The Gauntlet” and “Grim Hunt” storylines from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. In CAPTAIN AMERICA #697, the creativity comes from the simplicity. The potential backstab towards the end of the issue is probably the most fun of them all, though it’s short-lived.

Kraven’s Had Better Days

I only wish there could have been more fighting between Cap and Kraven. They both excel at hand-to-hand combat. It would have been great to see them go at it for a page or two. What we get here is a bit lackluster by comparison. Still, for the sake of the story, it works. Also, again, Captain America fights a leopard in this issue. Need I say more?


CAPTAIN AMERICA #697 page 8. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Waid, Samnee, and Wilson Continue to Impress

The writing and artistic styles of Mark Waid, Chris Samnee, and Matthew Wilson are extremely understated. Waid is able to adeptly infuse a great deal of meaning into his books while also making sure the story flows naturally. He’s also great at throwing in little surprises and fun twists. CAPTAIN AMERICA #697 starts out in a bar, with Steve and a woman just playing billiards. The issue spends two pages on this, then quickly jumps into the action. It caught me off guard, and I absolutely loved it.

Chris Samnee’s pages are absolute eye candy. In the same way that Waid’s writing style is understated, Samnee’s artistic ability is much the same. It’s a very simplistic style, but it does everything right. Character emotions come across very well, and action sequences flow perfectly. Need proof? Go back and look at the leopard fight again. Matthew Wilson’s colors aid in bringing the pages to life.

There’s very little this creative team does wrong. However, as I mentioned before, the pacing of this issue is kind of uneven. It’s difficult to get a sense of how much time passes in CAPTAIN AMERICA #697. Cap and the other wanderer in the jungle go through several traps, and then Cap mentions he’s feeling dehydrated. How long have they been there, then, if that’s how he’s feeling? It’s tough to tell.

Proving Why Captain America is a Great Hero

Slight hiccups aside, Waid, Samnee, and Wilson have had no trouble making Cap feel like the hero we all know he is. Again, this is part of how understated the story is. For most of this series, Cap has been performing very down-to-earth feats of heroism. He hasn’t been running off with the Avengers or patrolling through New York City. He’s looking out for the little guy.

Steve protects David (the other guy in the jungle) with great fervor. Though he may come across as a little demanding, it’s only because he wants to keep David safe. Steve’s forceful demeanor can be forgiven, considering the very hostile environment. He’s still just as valiant and noble as you’d expect him to be.


CAPTAIN AMERICA #697 page 10. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Even without his shield, Cap knows how to be a hero. Steve is a resilient guy, but he’s no Thor or Hulk. Yet, he runs headlong into danger to protect others. Cap is caught without his shield when David accidentally causes a rock slide. However, Cap rushes over and covers David up with his own body, taking the full force of the falling rocks. Of course, they both turn out okay, but you can assume it was a painful impact. Regardless, Cap threw himself right into the situation to protect someone else.

Even that first interaction between Cap and Kraven speaks to Steve’s good-heartedness. It very much mirrors a moment from CAPTAIN AMERICA #696. When Kraven first lets Cap know David is on the island, Cap asks who it is. Kraven responds with: “Does it matter?” It certainly doesn’t, as Cap jumps out the window and rushes off to save this complete stranger. Yet another great Captain America moment from the creators.

A Curious Close to the Hunt

I still wanted more by the end of CAPTAIN AMERICA #697. Though there was a lot going on and tons to keep me engaged in the story, I thought a longer fight with Kraven would have been fitting. The issue spends too much time jumping from trap to trap that by the end you might feel a bit cheated.

The ending is pretty surprising, though. It’s a sudden occurrence that you might not expect. Kraven didn’t just decide to take on Cap for his own pleasure, after all. He apparently made a deal with some familiar faces. Thus, the next arc of CAPTAIN AMERICA, “Man Out of Time,” will soon begin. Talk about a true Marvel Legacy storyline!

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