Or – “This Just In: Former Captain America Steve Rogers Is Still Dead…”
Previously, on Captain America:Â The murder of Steve Rogers was a carefully orchestrated affair, utilizing the skills of Doctor Faustus, master of hypnosis, the cunning mind of the Red Skull, the influence of Aleksandr Lukin, and an unknown contribution from Arnim Zola, headless geneticist whose claim to fame (ominously) is repeatedly cloning the Red Skull to keep him from actual death.Â Sharon Carter, Steve’s main squeeze, took the worst of it, not only losing her friend/confidante, but carrying the knowledge that she, herself, pulled the trigger.Â Skull and Faustus intended to use the unfrozen madman who called himself Captain America in the 1950’s as part of a plan to replace, and presumably disgrace the name of their greatest enemy, but a sudden return to action by James Buchanan Barnes put the brakes on that plan, giving the public a new Cap to rally behind.Â The Skull, 50’s Cap, and Faustus all escaped SHIELD during the disastrous Tony Stark regime, and since that time, The Falcon and the former Agent 13 have been on their trail…
Sharon Carter’s dreams have been filled with images of death and regret, reliving the moment when she killed the man she loved, and devolving into a horroshow of crimson skulls and slaughter.Â She awakens in her family home in Virginia, once again deprived of a good night’s sleep.Â “It’s been nine months since Steve died…Â Half a year since I broke free of Dr. Faustus’ and the Red Skull’s control.”Â Sharon marvels at the changes in the world, the end of SHIELD, Bucky’s return, and all the crapstorm that has gone through (and also placing this issue squarely in Dark Reign territory.Â She makes her daily trek to visit her Aunt Peggy (who was one of Captain America’s squeezes during theÂ second World War and used to work for the Avengers.)Â Unfortunately, Peggy is now old enough that her memory has been ravaged by what is probably Alzheimer’s disease, and is now living in a retirement home.Â “Aunt Peggy’s memory is like the lost and found.Â It makes me miss her when she’s smiling right at me.”
Meanwhile, Sam Wilson, The Falcon, scours the countryside, tracing the path of “Steve Rogers,” trying to figure out where the faux-Cap is headed.Â He and Sharon have a phone conversation, and hilariously, they have the discussion that I myself am thinking.Â “What’re we calling this guy, anyway?”Â They try a coupld of names before settling on “Bad Cap,” and Sam flies off again to try and pick up something on the cold trail of pseudo-Steve.Â Sharon decides to go for a walk to clear her head, and ends up meeting an old friend who likewise had a near-death experience.Â Wine and confersation ensues, as well as a near kiss, but Sharon pulls back before it gets bad, and crashes on the couch.Â She is awakened by a screaming child, her friend’s son, and has an awkward moment, followed by a mind-melting one.Â A routine restroom visit reveals the reflection of a scar on her lower abdomen, and Sharon freaks out.Â later that day, Falcon returns to Sharon’s home to find her drinking heavily and in tears.Â “So, I was pregnant?” she asks, and Sam tells her the truth, the whole truth about what has happened.Â At the same time, Aunt Peggy has a mysterious visitor, who wants to hear all of her old war stories about Captain America.Â “You know…” says Peggy, “you were there…”Â Bad Cap just smiles, and says, “I want to hear it all.Â Everything you remember about us.”Â Sharon sleeps fitfully that night, the same nightmares, with a whole new twist: remembering what happened in the Red Skulls hidden lair the night the master plan broke free, looking into some sort of time portal.Â She awakens with a start.Â “Oh, god…Â What did I see?” she wonders as we fade to black.
For an issue in which not that much happens, this one works very well, giving us strong character bits with Sam and Sharon, the welcome return of Peggy Carter, and following up on the mystery of what the Red Skull was really up to that night in Washington.Â There’s a palpable sense of foreboding on every page, and Sharon’s recognition that her memory loss and Aunt Peggy’s memory loss are very similar provides some touching moments.Â The art is beautiful throughout, as Luke Ross and Rick Magyar easily portray every emotion Sharon feels with a facility that makes me extrememly jealous.Â There’s no trace of the main character in this issue, but it still works well across the board, and sets up next issue’s #50 extravaganza, which will be followed almost immediately by #600, both of which could be an interesting point to possibly make my post headers for the past two years lies.Â Either way, I’m enjoying the book overall, and this issue is a nice change of pace well-written, well-drawn, well-handled…Â Captain America #49 earns an impressive 4 out of 5 stars, with the reminder that Captain America’s 70th Anniversary is right around the corner, and a movie in the works.Â What better time for a miraculous resurrection and return?