CAPTAIN AMERICA #698 begins the newest arc, “Man Out of Time.” It’s a familiar tale, but it’s retold in a far grimmer way. At least, that’s how it’s looking so far. In the previous issue, Cap was frozen solid by those jerks in Rampart. Now, Steve’s wide awake in the year 2025, and boy does the near-future look crummy.

Unfortunately, those same Rampart bastards have taken over. There are no more heroes, and everything sucks for anyone who isn’t an elite member of society. There’s a small faction actively standing against the Rampart, but their numbers aren’t too great. But, hey, they’ve got a dog person on their side, so that’s cool.

Mark Waid, Chris Samnee, and Matthew Wilson really unload a lot in this issue. It’s a drastic departure from the first three issues of their run on CAPTAIN AMERICA. It’s surprisingly thrilling and highly entertaining. Though it’s a lot to take in, it’s not at all challenging to do so. It neatly lays out the groundwork for what promises to be a fun story.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #697: A Moderately Thrilling Hunt

CAPTAIN AMERICA #698 Sets the Stage for Something Awesome

CAPTAIN AMERICA #698 wastes no time getting into the action. Cap finds himself unfrozen and in an unknown land right away. Since Steve’s been through this crap before, he knows exactly what he’s dealing with, and immediately figures out his surroundings and shakes off the effects of being frozen. Waid handled that moment very well; he didn’t waste time making Steve look confused and whatnot. Instead, we get right to the action.

We also learn very quickly who the enemy is. The white supremacist group known as the Rampart are responsible for the takeover of the United States. Apparently, they caused a massive nuclear fallout. Many, if not all, superheroes died trying to contain it. Now, the wealthy and powerful live lavishly, and the poor and meek live in squalor. It’s got a Hunger Games vibe to it.

Waid delivers all of this information with sharp storytelling. CAPTAIN AMERICA #698 has to fill the reader in on a lot of details, and as Cap learns everything, so does the reader. Cap’s new ally, a strong-hearted woman named Liang, has to bring him up to speed on a lot of history. But, again, none of this comes off as bland or boring. It’s actually pretty intriguing to hear about the rather succinct downfall of the States. The world that Waid sets up is grim, but it’s very well thought out. It presents a real challenge for Cap, while also opening the doors to see him undergo some meaningful character development.

Painting a Bigger, Darker Picture

The gritty nature of this near-future is evident from the get-go. We see average citizens living in the wreckage of ruined cities and towns. Any who oppose the Rampart are immediately put to death. Cap is held back from saving a man’s life because Liang knows it will put the lives of her people (which includes a dog person) at risk.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #698
CAPTAIN AMERICA #698 page 3. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Seeing this play out is great; Steve is furious with her as we hear the man put down by gunfire. It’s a strong way to make a statement about how Cap isn’t one to easily give up on people. It’s also a great moment that helps build the violent tone of this near-future.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #698
CAPTAIN AMERICA #698 page 10. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

A Darker Threat for a Darker Picture

In CAPTAIN AMERICA #698, the current run presents its first extremely imposing threat. As part of trying to rebuild his reputation, Steve Rogers has essentially been fighting injustice wherever he finds it these past few months. So far, he’s done a good job with that, taking down minor nuisances across the country.

Now, we’re finally getting to the bigger threats, both physical and moral. The Rampart isn’t just a tyrannical group, it’s a white supremacist group, too. This is something Steve Rogers actively stands against. Not to mention, Cap fighting against such a thing will probably help his image a ton, especially after all the shenanigans that Hydra Cap pulled.

It’s Great to Have Captain America Back

Seeing Cap dealing with threats like this again does feel good, but it could have been handled better. Rather than just dumping Cap into the thick of things, the buildup could have been a bit more gradual. Still, the threat as a whole presents a far more compelling moral argument than it does a physical one. That’s why this arc is already shaping up to be something awesome.

The Beauty of the Bleak

As always, Chris Samnee and Matthew Wilson deliver pitch-perfect pages. It should really go without saying at this point that these guys can do no wrong. The simplicity of Samnee’s style contrasts the complexity of the scene he’s drawing in a beautiful way. It’s clear that there’s a lot going on, and Samnee captures all of it so easily. Wilson’s colors only heighten the quality of the scenes we’re seeing.

The bleakness of the ruined world is a stark contrast from the lavish lifestyle of the upper crust. The top one percent live in a world of bright colors. The Rampart is depicted with darker colors, such as deep shades of red, coupled with black, white, and grey. All of these different styles come together to make this a dynamic looking issue.

Once the action kicks in, the colors really start to pop. Watching Cap fly across the page, destroying robots and taking down Rampart thugs is a treat in this issue. Given that the vast majority of this issue is expository, set to a bleak backdrop, it’s nice to see some classic robot smashing and goon punching.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #698
CAPTAIN AMERICA #698 page 19. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

So, once again, Samnee and Wilson manage to deliver a fantastic combination of pages. They capture Waid’s apocalyptic near-future perfectly, and I’m eager to see them build upon what they’ve already done in the next few issues of CAPTAIN AMERICA.

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Eager for More

CAPTAIN AMERICA #698 is probably the most exciting issue of the series thus far. Waid and his artistic team have been playing it pretty safe. This issue takes risks that pay off. Though the jump to this more dramatic material was sudden, it’s fitting and fun.

Waid, Samnee, and Wilson are building a very dreary setting. It’s a world that really needs someone like Captain America to give people hope. Not to mention, it’s gonna be great to eventually watch Cap kick the crap out of these Rampart punks.

It’s a shame this series only releases once a month. For the first few issues, it was nice to just pick it up and read it for its pleasant storytelling. CAPTAIN AMERICA #698 changes all of that. Now, I’ve never been more eager to continue reading the adventures of Captain America. “Man Out of Time” promises to be a great arc, so stay tuned!

CAPTAIN AMERICA #698 by Mark Waid, Chris Samnee, and Matthew Wilson
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Characterization
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Summary
CAPTAIN AMERICA #698 is a great start to the "Man Out of Time" arc. It sets the stakes and the playing field, informs you of all the players, and gets you excited for the battle to come.
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Things are Picking Up

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