Or – “This Just In: Former Captain America Steve Rogers is STILL Dead.”


In a way, it was kind of nice to not write this weekend… I went to the pumpkin patch with my daughter and picked a gourd, then made a Jack-O-Lantern. Still didn’t do any laundry, but a flying tent smashed my windshield, which was kind of exciting. ‘Course, it should be noted that the cracks in my glass are nothing compared to the cracks showing in the psyche of one James Buchanan Barnes. (See what I did there?) Now that the Winter Soldier has been captured by the Red Skull, I suspect that there’s some unpleasantness afoot (and this in a book where a woman is pregnant by the man she murdered under hypnotic suggestions, folks.)

CA1.jpgPreviously, on Captain America: I would like to register a complaint! This Captain America, which I purchased not ‘alf a century ago… e’s dead, that’s what’s wrong with ‘im! He’s stone dead! The only reason ‘e ‘ad that shield on at ALL was that you’d NAILED it to his arm! He’s bleedin’ demised! ‘E’s passed on! This Captain America is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed a shield to ‘is arm, ‘e’d be pushing up the daisies! Vis a vis the metabolic processes, ‘e ad his lot! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket! ‘E’s shuffled off this mortal coil! ‘E’s run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisibule!! He’s $#&#ing SNUFFED IT!



We now join the ongoing torturous existence of SHIELD Agent 13, Sharon Carter, already in progress…


Something is really wrong with Sharon, and if there’s any justice in the world, Doctor Faustus will get every ounce of that pain back with interest. Jackass… Elsewhere in the world, The Winter Soldier remembers the days of his youth… “Your full name is James Buchanan Barnes. But the only thing the kids on the base EVER called you was Bucky.” Once again in the battlefields of Europe, the teenaged Bucky follows Captain America into battle, leaping away from a hail of bullets and flanking around on a nest of Nazis. As they sneak down the stairs into a Nazi emplacement, Bucky and Steve mark their targets and leap into action…


The Winter Soldier screams as his teenage self is torn to bits by a hail of gunfire, and Doctor Faustus watches with interest. “I expected you to break easily, after what they told me about you…” Bucky pulls himself back to reality, taunting Faustus with a whispered “Get out of my head, fat man…” Faustus smirks back at him, “I understand more about the human mind and its working than anyone on this planet, boy… Do you TRULY think I care if you call me fat?”


The Winter Soldier goes under again, as Sam Wilson wakes up in a SHIELD base across the city (marked with the ever-so-very-helpful caption “Elsewhere”) Sam is a little surprised (and half-angered) to see Tony Stark first thing when he wakes up, but not as surprised as when he finds out that Sharon shot him. Tony Stark doubles that shock by telling him that he’s quite certain that Sharon also shot Cap three times in the chest…


The Falcon puts two and two together, realizing that this DOES explain how Crossbones got away, and also how the SHIELD detail on the prisoner transfer was so badly botched. He asks Tony if he caught the psychologist, but Tony explains. “Not exactly. We found his frozen corpse in his own basement… but we know who was pretending to be him.”


I’ll finish that thought… It might be an indicator that Sharon is able to fight the conditioning, at least to a limited degree. Elsewhere, General Aleksandr Lukin/Der Roten Schadel prepares to address his troops, 2000 strong, including the brainwashed SHIELD agents. “I come here to tell you the great days your general has waited for… The days you ALL have waited for are nearly upon us! Soon, your great general and the Red Skull will lead you together into the paths of history And none shall EVER forget what is to come… when we write America’s epitaph in its own blood!” While the demagoguery gets hip-deep, the psychobabble reaches eye-level and continues to rise, as Faustus tries to break Bucky’s mind again, this time taunting that while the Invaders were gods, Bucky was barely even human, nothing but a killer in a domino mask…


“Nice try… but it ain’t gonna work… Can’t make me think those guys were anything but heroes.” Faustus is once again impressed by Winter Soldier’s resolve, but redirects him again to the past, this time to the day that Baron Zemo’s robot plane took Cap and Bucky out over the English Channel. He remembers a skewered version of those events, where Cap orders him to stay with the plane, to hold on and defuse the bomb, leaving him maimed and floating in Russian waters. “If only Steve had allowed you to leap free of the blast…”


“…was when they called you the Winter Soldier.” Suddenly, the drugs and conditioning seem to kick back in, as Bucky blinks and seems to awaken. “What am I doing in these restraints? And why the hell are you looking at me like that?” He frees Bucky from his restraints, and Faustus moves on to the next phase of the plan. Handing Winter Soldier a pistol, he asks a simple favor. “I want you to take this gun and kill your nurse.”


Uhhm… I sure hope that he just shot Faustus in the kneecap. Or the spleen. Whichever hurts more. Have I mentioned that I hate manipulative schmucks like Faustus? I did? Okay, then… This is another awesome chapter in the ongoing wonder that is Brubaker’s posthumous Cap run. With the bizarre and shiny Alex Ross revamp suit in the wings, I strongly suspect that we’ll have The Winter Cap before long, but it’s still nice to see some attention given to Mr. Barnes, showing us what he’s all about as a person, rather than as Marvel’s universal watchword for ‘dead.’

The subplots regarding Sharon and Lukin’s strikeforce are ominous and scary, and unlike many of Marvel’s ongoing plotlines, the decompressed storytelling strengthens the overall effect of the drama rather than scraping every last possible delay out of fighting Ultron… theoretically, I mean. Steve Epting’s art is once again excellent, evoking past Captain America artists (Kirby’s Dr. Faustus, Buscema’s Falcon, even a bit of Steranko in Bucky’s flashbacks) and the overall package is a fine one, ranking 4 out of 5 stars, and making the journey to Captain Chromerica as much fun or more as the destination itself…


The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. Roy
    October 23, 2007 at 9:49 am — Reply

    I love Month Python. Flying Circus is still one of the best shows on TV, whenever BBCA decides to air it.

    BTW, am I the only one who thinks that Bucky REALLY DID shoot the nurse?……..just to integrate himself into Faustus’s plan so he can take it apart from the inside?

  2. Roy
    October 23, 2007 at 10:38 am — Reply

    Oops, that should have said “Monty Python”. My spelling is, not so much.

  3. Salieri
    October 23, 2007 at 11:14 am — Reply

    “Is there any Captain in this America at all, Mr. Rogers?”


    “I am goign to ask you that question again, and if you say ‘No’, I am going to shoot you in the gut. Is there any Captain in this America at all, Mr. Rogers?”



    “Oh what a senseless waste of a 40-Year-Old character.”

  4. Dr. Strange Cubicle
    October 23, 2007 at 11:36 am — Reply

    My guess is that Bucky shot the nurse (Sharon!), but the gun has blanks. Regardless of who he shot, I can’t imagine Faustus would be so stupid as to give him a gun with real bullets.

  5. ykw06
    October 23, 2007 at 3:35 pm — Reply

    “Steve Epting’s art is once again excellent, evoking past Captain America artists (Kirby’s Dr. Faustus, Buscema’s Falcon, even a bit of Steranko in Bucky’s flashbacks)”

    Not to mention an amazingly huge chunk o’ Don Heck in that first Tony/Sam page re-presented above…

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