Or – “Former Captain America Steve Rogers Still Dead, But His Clone Looks Fabulous.”


The plot thickens, a family continues to disintegrate, two men wrestle with the burden of wearing the flag, a villain defects, a hero shows his defects, while Sharon Carter gets a bit of mercy from an unlikely source.  The penultimate chapter of the Death of Captain America is here, let’s not waste time with preliminaries…

Previously, on Captain America:  The Red Skull, along with Nazi geneticist Arnim Zola and bohemian CA1.jpgpsychiatrist Doctor Faustus, finally did the unthinkable:  He murdered the man known as Captain America.  But Herr Schmidt had more than just the death of a man in mind.  Knowing, as Steve Rogers did, that Captain America is as much a symbol as he is a human, the Skull dredged up the Captain America of the 1950’s, an unhinged superhuman with a fear of communists and a tendency to try and immolate himself.  With Agent 13 of SHIELD (also known as Steve Rogers’ main squeeze, Sharon Carter, currently pregnant with a living legend spawn) in his clutches, the Skull is within inches of putting his own candidate in the White House.  Luckily, The Falcon, The Black Widow, and James Buchanan Barnes, the former teen sidekick known as Bucky, have stepped up to stop them.  While Bucky, as the new Captain America (a role he’s really uncomfortable with) fights 50’s Cap, Falcon and Widow try and find the lost Sharon Carter.  Unfortunately, thanks to Red Skull’s idiot daughter, Agent 13’s life (and Daddy Skull’s plan) has been put in grave jeopardy…

We open in a cheap fleabag motel, with new Cap and Falcon playing poker to kill time during their stakeout.  Bucky shows that he’s a new breed of Captain America (“Dollars?  No way, Sam.  We’re playing for EUROS.  I read the papers, y’know?”) while Falcon uses his telepathic link with his namesake pet to keep tabs on the former Grand Director, 50’s Cap.  The bird tells him that there’s an AIM goon squad on the way, and Bucky-Cap is angry that they’re using this relatively innocent stooge as a pawn in their larger game.  G.D. Cap lays into the AIM agents, but even his super-strength isn’t enough to overcome their weaponry, and the goon squad “captures the flag.”  Back at the Skull-cave, the villain gets the news that his brainwashed living weapon is in custody, and Zola points out that, once again, Doctor Faustus screwed up.  The Skull reminds the headless socialist that without Faustus, none of this would have happened, and removes his mask.  Aleksandr Lukin, whose brain matter is the current hideout of the Skull’s mind, comes back into control of their shared body, and order Zola to start the final phase.  “Or your leader and I will BOTH go insane…”

Down in the infirmary, Doctor Faustus meets with Sharon Carter, and the fat man is in a strange mood.  He quickly takes control of Sharon’s mind, and is pleased to see that bits of the real Sharon are still in her mind.  He asks her the burning question, querying if she intended to die during her fistfight with Sin last issue.  “Anything to keep [the baby] safe… and away from him,” she replies.  Faustus muses over her words, and amazingly AGREES with her!  “I hope you make it thorugh the coming days,” says Faustus in an almost fatherly tone, handing her her lost SHIELD transmitter, and another gift…  “Forget your grief.  You were never pregnant.  I was all a bad dream…”  I almost find myself liking the master manipulator, as he tells her to be strong…  “You’ll have control of your mind again when I’m gone…  Use it wisely.”  Sharon stares at her trasnsmitter, and sets off it’s homing pulse…

The next morning, Falcon and Bucky-Cap takes to the road/air to track down the lost Grand Director, having pinpointed his location in Albany, New York.  They’re surprised to be intercepted by a SHIELD contingent led by the Black Widow, who reveals that Faustus sent them an anonymous tip identifying Skull’s base, and gave them a heads up on the Skull’s secret plan.  Back in the city, Doctor Faustus shaves off his beard, telling Senator Wright (Skull’s presidential pawn) that everything will still be the same, but the Senator says that he needs Doc’s backup, his support to be president.  “I’ll see you again…” says Faustus ominously, “Be sure of that.”  Skull’s plan seemingly centers on the presidential debate, where Senator Wright gets to speak.  Back in the Skull cave, Zla has finally cracked the secret of Doctor Doom’s time machine, though he doesn’t trust it.  “And the other device?” asks the Skull.  “To separate me from Lukin?”  That machine, Zola knows will work, “since I designed it with my own hands.”  Just as his triumph seems inevitable the Skull gets a message from a minion.  “We can’t find Doctor Faustus, sir…”

We see Sin at the debate, undercover, as the crowds and press gather for the name-calling, while at the same time, Arnim Zola interrogates Sharon Carter about the whereabouts of Faustus.  Just as he realizes that she has armed her transponder, allowing SHIELD to locate them, the wall blows in, and SHIELD, Falcon, and Black Widow come in shooting.  Zola calmly walks Sharon away for the final portion of the plan, knowing that his cannon fodder will keep SHIELD at ay long enough to finish whatever he’s planning.  At the debates, Sin climbs into an empty control booth, and assembles a sniper rifle, preparing to assassinate the Senator, while muttering under her breath about her father’s shortcomings as a parent.  “The hell with you, father,” she whispers as she pulls the trigger, but the bullet is deflected… by Captain America’s shield!  Bucky-Cap leaps into action, commanding the security forces to get the candidates clear of the line of fire, and one of them asks who he is…  “What does it look like?  I’M CAPTAIN AMERICA!”

It’s a good ending, a good scene, and really the first point where I believe that Bucky is mentally up to the task that has fallen to him.  This issue is taut, and suspenseful, and I was amazed how easily Brubaker made me feel for Doctor Faustus, even like him, just a little bit, while maintaining his manipulative aura.  It’s a well-done bit, and his “gift” to Sharon, shows that the fat man has a surprising level of compassion.  Steve Epting is back on art, and it shows, as this issue was very well done, from the clear distrust on the face of Sharon Carter while speaking with the Doc, to the obviously exhausted Lukin, to some spectacular action sequences.  Thankfully, we don’t have a chance to focus on the loss of Steve and Sharon’s baby (another annoying example of endangering a child to up the stakes) for long, but I’m still wondering what evil doings the Skull is up to with his final endgame.  It’s a pretty awesome issue, not perfect, but very well done, and earns a mighty fine 4.5 out of 5 stars.  Captain America #41 is a great example of what we’ve been seeing from this book since the relaunch several years ago:  good storytelling, clean, concise art, and stories that wouldn’t work for any hero other than Captain America…  The way it should be.


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. smith Team Uno
    September 7, 2008 at 12:16 pm — Reply

    Again, Captain America proves that there IS a reason to keep reading comics. Brubaker and Epting are crafting a run that i think will always be remembered fondly by Cap Fans… and the majority without Steve! I do agree with you Matthew that this is the first time that Bucky has truly seemed comfortable in his role as Captain America. As such it feels like yet another turning point in his continued evolution as a character.

    Now I just wonder if the day will come when he is longer referred to as “Bucky as Cap” and just becomes, “Cap”?

  2. Ricco
    September 7, 2008 at 2:35 pm — Reply

    Just how Bruce Wayne will always be Batman, no matter who picks up tha cape at the end of R.I.P, or how Sean Connery will always be james Bond, Steve Roger will always be Captain America.

    It will always be “Bucky as cap”… at least in my book.

  3. Lifeisaglitch
    September 7, 2008 at 2:43 pm — Reply

    You might want to remove Connery=Bond from that simili ;)

  4. hermit
    September 7, 2008 at 3:30 pm — Reply

    i can’t wait for all of this to come out in TPB.

  5. September 7, 2008 at 4:08 pm — Reply

    Hermit: Check out The Captain America Omnibus #1 that collects the first 25 issues.

  6. September 7, 2008 at 4:29 pm — Reply

    omnibus looks tempting but price is always something that made me hesitate with omnibuses. I’ll have to seriously think before I drop 60 dollars on that bad boy

  7. hermit
    September 7, 2008 at 7:11 pm — Reply

    i already have the omnibus, and all the little hardcovers that came out after. i just can’t wait to see what happens next. this one of the greatest series ever.

    and the omnibus is really worth it, buy it.

  8. September 8, 2008 at 1:58 pm — Reply

    I have to agree w/ Matthew on this one. I started reading Cap for the first time at issue 36 and so far have been completing blown away by the them. I find myself not being able to put them down. I am definatly going to pick up the omnibus soon so I can check out 1-25 then try and fill in 26-36 at the local shop.

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