Written by Scott Gray, Roger Langridge, Paul Tobin, Todd Dezago and J.M. Dmatteis

IDW Publishing, p/b, £12.16

Reviewed by Matthew Johns

Captain America – the First Avenger, Cap to his friends, Winghead to some, Steve Rogers to others. Most people know him, and he’s been around for a while. This collection of Cap stories has been pulled together for younger readers, but hasn’t been dumbed down and loses none of the charm that the thrilling tales of his derring-do offer.

It’s a pocket-sized graphic novel (measuring just 14.5cm wide and 21.5cm high for fans of the metric system) containing 9 different Cap tales. It’s full of bright, primary, hopeful colours as you might expect to be associated with the lead character, and as it is aimed at younger audiences has easy to follow panes leading left to right across the pages. As is often the case, the villains are drawn in muted colours (the Grey Gargoyle and Rhino being great examples), while Cap himself is always shining in his red, white and blue. Being drawn by many different artists, the styles are very different from tale to tale, but this never detracts from the reader’s enjoyment of Cap’s adventures.

The writers bring in a variety of other Marvel heroes and villains – some better known than others, such as Spider-Man, Iron Man, Nova and even the Rhino. One of the notable lesser-known characters (for this reviewer, at least) is Chat or Sophia Sanduval to her family. A 16-year-old girl who can speak to animals and happens to be Spider-Man’s girlfriend, she finds herself in the middle of a battle between Cap and some heavily armed Neanderthal soldiers and her mutant ability to talk to animals proves to be much more impressive (and useful in a battle) than a certain Doctor Doolittle’s!

Captain America’s stories always have a hopeful and positive note – despite resorting to violence, Cap always looks for the route of least damage and injury. These are no different – Cap saves a baby rhino from a laboratory and is assisted by one of Spider-Man’s foes, the Rhino. The previously mentioned Neanderthal soldiers lay down their arms when Cap defeats their scientist overlords. Cap even ends up helping Spider-Man with his social studies essay and defeats an otherworldly, Cthulhu-like monster by being an all-round good chap and the personification of dignity and decency.

If you’re new to the world of Captain America, or a long-time fan, this is a nice little collection of tales that are easy to read and help pass some time in an enjoyable way. In the world we live in today, we could all use a little injection of Cap’s positivity and can-do attitude to help put (and keep) a smile on our faces.