Honestly, I don’t understand comics. Who was demanding this series? Were people really clamoring for a feature on Jeff Mace, the Captain America of the 1950’s? I just can’t make myself believe there were many people who wanted this. Maybe Marvel was trying to clarify their continuity and timelines? I honestly can’t figure it out.
That’s not to say this isn’t a good series. Mitch Breitweiser’s art is gorgeous from start to finish, and Karl Kesel’s story hits all the required notes. I just can’t figure out why this book was made. Am I forgetting some crossover into Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America?
Jeff Mace was active as the Patriot, dealing with New York street villains while Cap fought the good fight in WWII. After Cap’s disappearance, Mace steps up when the world needs another Captain America. It is pretty fun seeing Mace try to fill Steve Rogers’s shoes, especially when Namor won’t give him an ounce of respect. Namor is constantly belittling and doubting Mace’s abilities, even when the rest of the team is trying to give him a shot. It’s easy to root for Mace when he’s got a bully like Namor gunning for him.
As I said, Kesel hits all the required notes. There are some All-Winners Squad fights, but most of the interactions we see with the other heroes are personal and character-driven. There are allusions to the Red Scare. There is a nice subplot with Mace trying to figure out his love life. His co-worker and erstwhile partner Mary Morgan clearly loves him, but he has the hots for his FBI handler Betsy Ross. I felt like the Mary Morgan story was a tad unresolved at the conclusion of the series, but I did like Mace getting a happy ending.
Breitweiser’s art is a rare treat. Someone this good should get more work. His work has a lot of similarities to Dougie Braithwaite, only a tad more dreamy. The costumes on the heroes and villains are all nice designs, including new characters like Night Witch or redesigns like Red Guardian. He can clearly handle drawing a large cast; why doesn’t he do more work?
This is a FAIR comic; I don’t know why Marvel wanted it made, but it is fun seeing a forgotten chapter in the Marvel U get a few panels in the sun.