Or – “Former Captain America Steve Rogers? Still Dead… Mostly.”

It’s very clearly his LEFT arm…

Previously, on Captain America: Steve Rogers is gone, shot down in the street, a victim of a plot hatched by Arnim Zola, Dr. Faustus, and the Red Skull. His friends have tried to make the best of the situation, with The Falcon looking for the killer, Iron Man wishing he had done everything differently, and Sharon Carter dealing with having been brainwashed into doing the deed. Most affected of all (strangely, since they haven’t interacted in over half a century) is James Buchanan Barnes, the former Bucky, the erstwhile Winter Solder, who now wields the shield in the hopes that all his enemies will yield, but also carries a knife and a gun for those times when a Flexible Flyer isn’t the most useful of weapons. The Red Skull is very surprised to see a new Cap in action (for a couple of reasons, one of which may be more sinister than even I suspected) but quickly uses the diversion to further his evil plans. Meanwhile, Sharon Carter finds a body that looks VERY familiar in a cryogenic stasis in the Skrull’s hidden lair…

Okay, here’s the real story on why I’m late with this title: I honestly thought that someone else had already covered it, or was about to do so, and so stuck it on the bottom of my review pile, and only just now recovered it and realized I’m kind of an idiot. So, mea maxima culpa, and at least we’re getting to it AT ALL, right? Seeing as how I never seem to get to the comic store until Friday most weeks anyway, it’s probably for the best. Bygones! Moving on…

We start out with a flashbck to V-E Day, as Captain America and the U.S. Army enter Paris, enjoying the accolades of the citizenry as they liberate the city from Nazi control. In a darkened building, overlooking the festivities, the sinister Roten Schadel (my German is a bit rusty) watches, as plots bubble about in his evil mind. Flashforward sixty year, as we see Senator Gordon Wright (one of the Skull’s pawns) declaring his intent to run for President, and using Kane-Meyer security forced to keep the peace. The Skull watches the screen, marveling at how simple it was to setup his latest takeover of the United States. “Soon, Kane-Meyer Securities will be protecting every city in the nation,” he crows, “My hand will wrap around the throat of the United States.” Doctor Faustus reminds him that it’s “OUR hand,” and the Skull ignores him, instead remarking how “He” will be conscious soon, and then it won’t just be Bucky trying to fill the pirate boots of Captain America.

High above New York, Sam Wilson (The Falcon) berates Tony Stark (Doctor Doom Iron Man) about his decision to give Bucky the famous shield and a Captain America costume. Iron Man asks if he’s so damn concerned, why Falcon doesn’t just go out and help Winter-tain Buck-Merica. “And NOW you’re trying to manipulate ME?” replies The Falcon, and I wonder what comics HE’S been reading for the past five years. In a loft in Brooklyn, Bucky works out with his shield (and as much as I like and respect Jacin B., one of my fave-rave customers, his arm remains on the left throughout) until it’s snatched out of the air by a practiced hand. “You REALLY want to drop that shield right now,” Bucky snarls, and Clint Barton smirks back, “I was just about to say the same thing to YOU.” The former Hawkeye attacks, but Cap-inter Amer-ucky blocks his every move, going so far as to grab his fist in mid-punch, John Wayne-style. “He taught me that move, too,” says Buck, and the two men grudgingly talk. Hawkeye hears him out, and agrees to let the Winter Soldier play Cap… for now.

Meanwhile, Agent 13, aka Sharon Carter, is in a hard place. She murdered her long-time boyfriend, is also pregnant with his child, is partially in the thrall of a fat Austrian bastard, and now she’s found what looks like her beloved’s body in the freezer. It’s enough to break a girl’s mental conditioning free, y’know? Luckily, Sharon’s been a spy long enough to know how to play along, pretending to still be in Faustus’ clutches. At the same time, Bucky has a bizarre nightmare about Captain America confronting him, and wakes up with a start, only to find The Falcon in his kitchen. “You aren’t here to fight, I hope?” he asks, but Falcon doesn’t know what he’s talking about. They decide to go save the damsel in distress, while, in the Skull’s lair, Sharon gets into more distress… She finds a man who looks like Steve Rogers on a table in an operating theatre, and tries to wake him up. He opens his eyes, and Sharon is horrified to realize it’s not her man. But the corpse nonetheless slurs “Steve… Steve Rogers… Yes. That WAS my name. But… who are you?” Ladies and gentlemen, I’m going to spoiler this right here, right now.

Say hello to The Grand Director, also known as the commie-smashin’ Captain America of the 1950’s. He had the plastic surgery to look like Steve, changed his name to Steve, and also “died” in a fiery blaze, explaining what look like burns over half of his body. You heard it here first… Well, actually, you probably didn’t. Either way, this issue is a quick and entertaining ride, with nice character moments, and a reveal that implies bad things are on the way. I’m loving Brubaker’s Cap run, with lovely art by Steve Epting and some of the best Cap writing since Mark Gruenwald had the government fire Steve back in the 80’s. It’s a 4 out of 5 star effort, a very well-done piece of storytelling on both the writing and visual level, and I’m very much looking forward to the next issue (which, due to my lateness, ought to be out in the next half-hour.)

4stars.jpg


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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3 Comments

  1. May 1, 2008 at 2:35 am — Reply

    [i]the best Cap writing since Mark Gruenwald had the government fire Steve back in the 80’s.[/i]

    I love that storyline! One of the classics.

    I knew that there was a Cap replacement who had been burned, but I could not remember the name!

  2. Sanlear
    May 1, 2008 at 7:02 am — Reply

    “James Buchanan Barnes, the former Bucky, the erstwhile Winter Solder, who now wields the shield in the hopes that all his enemies will yield”

    Bonus rep points to you for knowing the Captain America song. This is one of my favorite Marvel comics out there right now. Can’t wait for the next issue.

  3. May 1, 2008 at 2:30 pm — Reply

    Looked like it switched to me …

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