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COMIC BOOK REVIEW - Steve Rogers Captain America: Empire Building

As I’m making my way through a lot of these stories I’m realizing that the TV and film genres are limited in their scope of what stories they can adapt. For me, surprising as it may be, it’s led to a sense of boredom with some of these shows and films. So, in order to excite myself, I decided to return to a series that I think did something very drastic to the core of the character. I’m speaking of the Steve Rogers Captain America series that sees him be an agent of Hydra!

‘Empire Building’ is again a story that flits from present to past. We start the story in the aftermath of Civil War II which sees Captain Marvel go up against Iron Man, leading to the latter falling into a coma. Captain Marvel is pushing for her Interplanetary Defence Shield which she believes will protect Earth from alien forces. Steve who has just recently been made Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. wishes for her to abandon her plans. Meanwhile, somewhere else in the world, it appears that Taskmaster and Black Ant have stumbled upon video evidence that Captain America is a H.Y.D.R.A. agent and attempt initially to leak the information to the previous S.H.I.E.L.D. director, Maria Hill. However, just as they are about to meet her with info, they are intercepted by Elisa Sinclair, aka Madame Hydra, the woman who recruited Steve in the first place. She sets about putting together a team of villains who she states will make up the new council of Hydra. She’s not the only one doing some recruiting because it also seems that Baron Zemo, now aware of the experiment at Pleasant Hill, is finding villains of his own, but for what purpose? We see flashbacks of Steve and Helmut Zemo’s friendship and how the former infiltrated American forces to act as a spy for the latter. Both Zemo and Elisa however are pushed out of the leadership of H.Y.D.R.A. back in 1945 by the Red Skull. Although initially, Steve fears that the Red Skull will ruin everything that H.Y.D.R.A. have set out to do, he relents in killing him. We cut back to modern day and Steve meets Red Skull, with the latter believing that he is in charge. But just what does this Captain America have in store for the supreme leader? And who are these new groups of villains being recruited for?

Whereas the first novel in this series had the big moment where we find out that Steve Rogers is a H.Y.D.R.A. agent, it’s been difficult for the writers to continue the excitement. There are certainly big gasp moments in this novel, however, it felt like ‘Empire Building’ was just that; building. Obviously, there is something unexpected coming later in the series, but for me, I was left at the end of this novel feeling a little bored. Now, for me to say that you’ve got to imagine that I find it hard not to like most things I review. Steve as a villain, ironically, seems to be a very uni-layered character and even people like Selvig and Zemo seem to be more interesting. That being said, I absolutely cannot wait for the moment that the world and characters like Sam Wilson find out that their mentor has been a H.Y.D.R.A. spy all this time.

The artwork was variable for most of the novel. I enjoyed the semi black and white pages used to depict the flashbacks, but some of the scenes in the present seemed sloppy. The covers weren’t massively impressive, and overall, I think the novel was just average. I definitely want to see how things pan out, but ‘Empire Building’ seems like it’s filler material!

Favourite Panel:

Say what you will about this storyline. These are words that no one expected to hear from Captain America

Favourite Character:

Tough to say because I hate this version of Cap, but Taskmaster is hilarious and for what? He was wasted in the MCU


  • Story Arc: 12/20

  • Character Development: 13/20

  • Artwork: 9.5/20

  • Enjoyability: 10/20

  • Re-readability: 5.5/20

  • Overall: 50/100

Level: Advanced

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