Mark Waid’s ‘Captain America: Man Out of Time’ is a Modern Classic [Review]
In case you aren’t aware, there’s a movie coming out later this summer called Captain America: The First Avenger. It’s based on the legendary Marvel Comics superhero created by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, and that means Marvel has to publish a smorgasbord of standalone projects to capitalize on the film, one of which, inevitably, must be an origin story.
Under normal circumstances, if you told me there was an excellent five-issue miniseries recently collected that expands on Captain America’s acclimation to life in our modern times, I’d tell you that everything you need to know about that is in Avengers #4 and that I can’t imagine any good reason to go back and retell that story. Mark Waid writing Captain America, however, is not a normal circumstance. That origin story is Captain America: Man Out of Time. It’s on sale now as a handsome collected edition, and it’s one of the best Captain America stories we’ve ever read.
Mark Waid wrote two long runs on the Captain America title, both in the ’90s and both of which, I’m ashamed to say, I haven’t yet read. However, I’m a huge fan of Waid’s work on basically everything else, and I couldn’t resist Waid’s continuing claims that Man Out of Time was “unquestionably the best thing [he's] written in years.” Well, guess what: it is. I really enjoyed his work on Amazing Spider-Man, Irredeemable and Incorruptible, but Man Out of Time is the best thing Mark Waid’s released since the infamous “wicker Sue” issue of 52, and that’s because it has one thing in spades: heart.
The best comparison I can make to Man Out of Time is Waid’s last superhero origin story, the superb and criminally ignored Superman: Birthright. Waid achieves the same almost impossible balance here that he was able to handle there: the story of a man coming to terms with being a symbol and embracing his own humanity despite the fact that millions of people expect him to be more. This isn’t just the story of how a frozen-in-time Steve Rogers was found and thawed out, it’s the story of how Steve Rogers realized that he couldn’t go home again, and that his place was in indeed in the future with the Avengers.
Waid pulls off his story playing a lot of tricks with the events of Avengers #4, the 1964 issue that first depicted Captain America’s rediscovery by the Avengers. But Man Out of Time isn’t just a continuity patch-up tale, this is a vital, excellent Captain America story. The script is nearly perfect, and the only real fault I can find with the book is that Frank D’Armata’s typically muddly coloring is at odds with the tone of the book (despite his pedigree on Brubaker’s run), and Jorge Molina – while perfectly serviceable – doesn’t bring the stylistic flair this book could have used to shoot it over the top. This isn’t enough to stop Man Out of Time from being one of the best superhero comics of 2011, and one of the best Captain America stories in years.
Below you can check out the first nine pages of Man Out of Time as well as assorted scenes from throughout the book, courtesy of Marvel.