It feels odd to talk about a Captain America “family” of books, but between massive critical success, the return of Steve Rogers and a movie ready to hit, Marvel appear to be doing their best to create one. And Nomad is an experiment in that vein.
The book uses a spin on the Captain America “man out of time” concept, as Rikki Barnes – the female Bucky from the Heroes Reborn universe – finds herself stranded on the Marvel Universe Earth. Out of place, rather than out of time. Or, indeed, without a world. The first issue re-introduced the character and started weaving her into the Captain America cast, culminating with an anonymous benefactor bestowing the “Nomad” identity upon her.
For a book that has its roots in legacy heroics and alternate universes, Nomad tries its best to work at street level. The whole “teen super-hero at school” concept isn’t done anywhere in the Marvel Universe right now (only in Ultimate Spider-Man) so Nomad does fill a niche. It’s arguably an unusual choice to do so, but under McKeever’s skillful pen, it works far better than you’d expect – two issues in, it really looks like this series is going to be a critically acclaimed one.
McKeever juggles traditional super-heroics with teen angst, which in this case is caused by Rikki befriending this universe’s version of her brother who, on her home world, was a neo-nazi – and might just become one on this world too. As well as involving appearances from Cap’s supporting cast, both heroic (Falcon) and villainous (a new Flag Smasher), Nomad mirrors Captain America’s political focus, only on a smaller scale – we’re talking student elections rather than governmental ones. The approach works bafflingly well, tying Nomad into Cap’s world while giving her a distinct, independant role.
Artistically, the book is fairly strong too. Fantastic covers never fail to make the interiors look wanting, and Nomad has had some particularly good covers – so the Immonen-influenced artwork Baldeon produces is particularly pleasing. The interior school scenes are generally very strong, and although some of the standard superhero poses seem a bit stiff, the choreography in the action scenes is fantastic. There’s a fresh-faced energy to it all. This issue is stronger than the first, and hopefully this trend will continue. If the series continues in this vein, I’d be glad to see the mini become a series. It’s unusual to see a character rescued from the backwaters of late-90s continuity so convincingly, but as someone who remembers her from the first time around, well, I’m both surprised and glad that her time might have come.