Or – “This Just In: Former Captain America Steve Rogers Is Still Dead…”


…but it’s looking less and less like anybody is really going to notice.  James Buchanan Barnes has finally come to grips with the mantle of Captain America.  The Red Skull is inches from taking over the American Government.  Sharon Carter’s will has been at least partially restored.  Aleksandr Lukin is inches from insanity.  Doctor Faustus has turned traitor.  The Red Skull’s daughter Sin has once again botched her mission.  The chips are about to fall, but with the playing field in this much disarray, victory could be snatched from either side’s grasp…

Previously, on Captain America:  Trapped by a cosmic cube accident in the body of a former Soviet CA1.jpggeneral, The Red Skull has once again formulated a plan.  Bringing in Doctor Faustus, the master of the mind, and Arnim Zola, master of the body, he sets in motion a plan to give him his own body back, to murder his old enemy Captain America, and to complete undermine and destroy the American way for which his old foe stands.  The murder is successful, and the other phases of the plan are well under way when a snag appears, in the form of the Winter Soldier.  Formerly Captain America’s partner Bucky during the big war, the Soldier manages to take up the mantle and shield of Captain America, and though not entirely comfortable with the role, thwarts the Skull’s plan more than once.  When the Skull awakens the Captain America of the 1950’s (the Commie-smasher also known as the Grand Director) it’s clear that he’s got more on his mind than killing one spindly blonde kid from Brooklyn.  Thanks to the defection of Doctor Faustus from the Skull’s camp, SHIELD and Bucky arrive just in time to save the presidential candidates from murder at Sin’s hands…

Bucky-Cap is in motion as this issue starts, slamming into Sin and a horde of soldiers like a two-ton heavy thing, finally completely accepting of what the red, white and blue threads mean and what he has to do.  “This uniform…  It carries a WEIGHT, but it’s not a burden.  It’s a responsibility.”  While Buck decimates Sin’s backup soldiers, The Falcon, The Black Widow and SHIELD home in on Sharon Carter’s emergency GPS transponder, beating the bajeezus out of the Skull’s AIM shock-troops as the Skull’s base explodes around them.  It’s a very powerful sequence, and nicely handled by Steve Epting on pencils.  In a hidden sub-basement, Zola and the Skull prepare to do something involving a time machine and Sharon Carter, something that will once again give the Skull autonomy.  “I don’t intend to be trapped by my enemies, or IN THIS BODY any longer,” grouses Skull, as the machinery grinds into motion.

Elsewhere in the complex, the Grand Director Cap screams that they can’t do this to him, that he’s Captain America, dammit, as explosions surround (but pointedly DO NOT seem to consume) him.  Bucky-Cap fights through the cannon fodder to Sin, and Sharon Carter is confused and a little bit horrified to see something inside the time machine.  Is it her child, somehow regenerated?  Is it Steve Rogers?  Is it Ad*lf H*tl*r?  We’ll never know, as Agent 13 steels herself, screams and rips herself free of the machinery, causing the entire mechanism to short out.  The Skull loses it, kicking at the unconscious Sharon, but Zola has another idea, and they both race off through the exploding complex…  At the debate, Sin fires off an RPG, seconds before Bucky-Cap is able to stop her, and B.C. LEAPS IN FRONT OF THE ROCKET!  Even more shockingly, as the Zola and the Skull exit a lab, having done something we didn’t see, Sharon Carter pops up again…

…AND SHOOTS THE RED SKULL FOUR TIMES SQUARE IN THE CHEST.  Zola chides her, “I am afraid you have no concept of how futile… how UTTERLY futile–“  Before the sentence can finish, though, his viewscreen face explodes in sparks and shattered glass.  Grand Director Cap hammers at the false body, ripping away the control box that serves as his “head,” destroying Zola’s body with a look of pure psychosis on his face.  Sharon can barely stand, muttering, “Please tell me you’re one of the good guys now…” as the mad Captain stares at her.  Back at the debates, Sin’s RPG blows up in her face, sending Bucky-Cap flying, crashing into a parked car, but saving the lives of the assembled candidates.  “At least I survived,” he thinks, “exactly according to my half-assed plan…”  The feds and the press immediately embrace him, calling him “Cap,” and cheering his heroic actions, while the Widow and the Falcon recover Sharon Carter.  “The good guys won,” Falcon reassures her, and she collapses.  As the issues close, we find that Sharon doesn’t remember her pregnancy, (the last gift of Doctor Faustus) that the Skull’s puppet candidate is out of the race, and that Bucky and the Widow make an adorable couple.  She teases him about struggling with his new role, and end up making out, and I find myself hoping that they stay a couple for a while.  The issue ends with two cliffhangers, as the 50’s Cap escapes out into the world…  and the Red Skull awakens in one of Zola’s headless robot bodies, his eyes wide with horror.

This is a very good way to cap (no pun intended) the story of the death of Captain America.  We see the beginnings of the new Captain America (no more Bucky-Cap for me, folks) some just desserts for the Red Skull, the beginnings of a new romance, a new career, and a promising new era for the Marvel Universe.  Even Sharon gets something of a fresh start, as the James Barnes era is officially underway.  Lots of excitement and stuff blowing up, and quite a few plto threads in action.  Overall, this was a very effective arc, and this a very effective issue from all perspectives.  There were some issues of clarity with exactly what was happening to Sharon in the Skull’s machine, and I had to reread the moments just before Sharon’s shooting of Lukin to figure out that Zola had transferred the Skull consciousness out of his body while we weren’t looking, but overall it’s a very strong piece of work.  Captain America #42 rates a nicely-done 4 out of 5 stars, and I’m looking forward to what the new Captain is going to do with the role…


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. October 13, 2008 at 3:45 pm — Reply

    I for one have been loving post-Steve Rogers Captain America, but I’m exhausted at this point by all of this political intrigue. I’m glad that Bucky-Cap will finally be able to join the goings on in the greater Marvel U.

  2. Brother129
    October 13, 2008 at 3:57 pm — Reply

    If they don’t bring back by Steve Rogers by issue #50,then maybe I’ll start to believe he’s dead. Netherless, my doubts don’t take away from a great story. I do feel like the last 4-5 chapters sort of dragged on this thing. Bu I supposed the new Captain America needs at least a year to breathe on his own…

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