Updated: Dec 17, 2019
Previously, in the pages of Captain America:
Steve Rogers has been going around the country trying to do what is right like Captain America should; fighting the homegrown terrorist group Rampart, the new Swordsman, and overall bringing out the true spirit of America in everyone in lieu of the fact that he just finished almost taking over the world in Secret Empire (or was that his evil doppelganger, I forget). Where will Cap’s journey take him? Which villains will he meet next? Let’s find out.
As the comic opens, we find Steve shooting pool at a bar with some random girl, who turns out to be the bait of Cap’s next run-in when she scratches him with a poison ring. As he wakes up, Cap finds himself suited-up, wearing a shock collar and in the presence of Sergei Kravinoff a.k.a. Spider-Man villain extraordinaire, Kraven the Hunter. Wait, did Kraven or his henchwoman undress Cap and put him in his suit? ...weird.
Anyway, Kraven explains that he wants to hunt the Star-Spangled Avenger because he’s the “world’s most perfect physical specimen” and “represents the ultimate challenge”. Cap’s not having his bullshit though and says that he’s not afraid of Kraven. Unfortunately Kraven’s got an ace up his sleeve, an innocent college student about to be attacked by a jaguar. Pretty random, but being that Steve’s a hero and won’t let an innocent person die by jungle cat, he jumps in to rescue the student by wrestling the jaguar.
After rescuing the student, Cap helps him traverse and survive the jungle and the multiple traps that Kraven has set up. At every turn the inept student seems to find himself in a different situation, an avalanche, snakes, wires, boulders, and even a landmine. As Cap tries to figure out how to get him off the mine without killing them both, the “innocent” college student unsuccessfully pulls a gun on Captain America. Of course Cap was expecting this and knocks him out. Not to be one-upped, Kraven was expecting him to expect this and shoots him with a tranq dart, stating that he was hired to capture Rogers alive. Cap is still able to get the upper hand on Kraven while he’s hanging off a cliff, seemingly dooming them both because he is about to be knocked out by Kraven’s tranq. Unfortunately for both parties, Kraven is too proud to help the Captain and both fall off the cliff. While Kraven is nowhere to be found, Cap emerges from the water and is found and captured again by Rampart, the new terrorist organization created by Mark Waid, who proceeds to refreeze Steve Rogers in an iceberg, ending the issue.
Okay, that’s not true. The actual ending of the issue is the Wolverine “after-credits scene” that’s a part of the Infinity Countdown event coming up. In case you don’t know, in the pages of Marvel Legacy #1 the original Wolverine, James Howlett, or Logan (whichever you’d prefer) of the main Marvel Universe, Earth 616 came back to life. Now Marvel has been putting these “after-credits scenes”, a-la their movies, at the end of select comics. Lucky for us, the first one is at the end of this issue of Captain America. In this scene Logan walks into the bar from the beginning of the comic asking the barkeep if he’s seen a “tall, beefy blond guy”, but the man says no, leaving Logan to have to meet up with him later.
Captain America issue 697 is nothing particularly special or jaw-droppingly important but it was a fun adventure, reminiscent of some older, simpler comic stories of the past. Mark Waid is doing his usual work and it’s pretty good, much like the past two issues. He understands the character very well and knows how to portray him as the Sentinel of Liberty that Kirby and Simon first created back in 1941. Chris Samnee’s art is beyond great and captures the essence of what a Captain America comic should be. My only problems with this comic are that Cap and Kraven don’t share that much panel time together, which is sad as it would really be fun to see the two truly face-off against each other. Other than that, this was a fun, comic book-y adventure that any comic fan can pick-up, read and enjoy. The after-credits scene was neat, I guess. Speaking as a long-time Wolverine fan, I can say that these are kinda unnecessary. They’re nice little moments but unneeded.
I give this issue 7.5/10 vibranium shields.
Stay tuned for Captain America #698 for the beginning of the “Out of Time” story arc, to see what will happen to Cap next.