I’m not gonna lie. When I saw the preview for the cover of Captain America: Sam Wilson no. 2, the prospect of a Sam and Steve rift story didn’t sound at all appealing to me. “Are we really gonna play the Civil War card yet again?” I said to myself. I resolved not to add the series to my pull list largely (though not entirely) on that basis.
Then came the Fox News uproar. For those who may have missed it, on an episode of Fox and Friends, the show’s hosts decried the terrible decision to politicize Captain America and show him fighting anti-immigration extremists. Plenty of people took Fox to task for their poorly researched and overly histrionic claims (including, most recently, the author of the series himself), so I’m not going to bother with that low-hanging fruit. But the fact that Fox News hated the book made me want to throw some dollars at it. (I’m petty that way.)
So I stopped in at my LCS last Wednesday, added issues 1 & 2 to my weekly purchase, and dove in.
And I was pleased. Because Nick Spencer and Daniel Acuña are doing the rift story right.
The danger with stories about two friends who wind up on opposite sides of an issue is that you run the risk of forcing the audience into choosing between them, of designating one of the two parties as the bad guy, when what you want is for the audience to see both of them as flawed but good. This, for me, was a major stumbling block in the original Civil War series, and I have to admit that I worry it may be a stumbling block to the upcoming film adaptation as well. (That, of course, remains to be seen.)
But Spencer and Acuña shoot that idea down right away:
Here we see the illustration of an important component of Sam and Steve’s conflict: that this is not a situation that has developed as a result of Steve Rogers taking a less than admirable stance. Despite the conflict now existing between these two men, there is no escaping the fact that they are motivated by very similar beliefs. The problem is not that they have differing beliefs; the problem is that they have differing views over the best way to honor those beliefs:
Sam and Steve are not having a disagreement about what is right; they are having a disagreement about what methods are appropriate to use in defense of what is right. And that is a vital distinction. In the original Civil War crossover, Steve and Tony had a disagreement about what was right. Their argument was not methodological but ideological, and it fractured their friendship in ways that Sam and Steve have not (yet?) been fractured. They are still friends, and they both quite obviously still want very much to be allies—even though it is presently unclear whether or not that is possible. This is a type of dispute in the nature of the conflict that existed between Charles Xavier and Magneto; a fight over the means rather than the ends between two people who mutually respect one another. And it has the potential to be really compelling.
I’m extremely excited to see how this story develops.