Or – “Why It’s Best Not To Rile Ex-Nazi Jerkwads…”

Thanks to the efforts of Helmut Zemo, the secret of the new Captain America is out, and the world knows that Bucky has graduated to the role of his mentor.  They’re also privy to all the horrible things he did as the Winter Soldier, official assassin of the Soviet Union for many years.  The world isn’t thrilled with a killer in the ranks of the Avengers (at least one not named Howlett, anyway) and the authorities would like to have a few words with the former mascot of Camp Lehigh…

Captain America #611



Previously, on Captain America:  Baron Heinrich Zemo finally had his foe, Captain America, in his evil clutches, and had chained both the hero and his kid sidekick to an experimental “buzz bomb” plane.  Launched into a kamikaze attack on their own forces, Captain America was able to pull loose, leaving Bucky to try and defuse the bomb.  The boy failed, and Cap was frozen in Arctic ice for decades, eventually getting thawed at the dawn of the current age of Marvels.  Bucky, for his part, lost an arm and was remanded into the custody of Russian General Lukin, who had him brainwashed and rebuilt as a cyborg killer called the Winter Soldier (not to be confused with Winger Soldiers, fans of Kip and his band back in the late 80’s.)  His conditioning was finally broken in recent months, just in time for the sidekick to watch his mentor die on the steps of a courthouse.  A few complicated things have happened since then, but Bucky’s life has been turned upside down as his activities as Russian assassin have come to light, thanks to the machinations of a second Zemo, the son of the original.  What do you do when your sentinel of liberty is a stone cold killer?

Well, if you’re the media in New York City, you surround the Avengers Mansion with a 24-7 siege of schmucks with camcorders and digital audio tape, hoping that a hero falls into your clutches.  Sadly for them (and, kinda, for the Avengers) what they get is Hawkeye, the loose cannon loudmouth who isn’t afraid to speak his mind:  “Vultures!  Yer all vultures!” cries Clint as he arrives for a super-secret briefing.  Steve “Not Captain America” Rogers, Tony “Still Iron Man Whether You Like It Or Not” Stark and Natasha “Scarlett Johanssen Was So Hot They Forgot To Give Me A Codename, How Sexist Is That $#!+?” Romanov have convened to discuss the truth of the situation.  Hawkeye rightfully (and entertainingly, thanks to writer Ed Brubaker’s dialogue) rakes his pals over the coals for trying to hide the fact that the man in the clothes of Captain Freakin’ America is a former Soviet assassin, but Natasha has the last word:  “Did James not deserve a second chance?  Are you or I or ANYONE in this room in the position to say that?”  It’s a strong point, and one that I loved for it’s bluntness, for the knowledge of Marvel history (Remember:  Ex-Russian Spy, ex-supervillain, ex-government strongarm and Steve “I quit being Cap again, must be time for lunch” Rogers, here) and for the subtle acknowledgement of Natasha’s feelings for Bucky.

While being the center of attention and conversation, the Captain America breaks up a neo-Nazi ring in Manhattan, all the while brooding about what is and what should never have been in the first place. When Steve arrives to talk to him, Bucky refuses to run or hide from the eyes of the public.  “It’s time for me to face the past…  No matter what,” says Bucky, and we cut to the next morning, as the media firestorm erupts again, this time showing Captain America turning himself into the authorities.  It’s a very strong piece of characterization for Bucky, and really shows the change in his nature, but it’s disturbing to think what could happen.  After all, he’s also responsible for the terrorist bombing of Philadelphia back in issue #7 or so, and this is not the kind of world where that sort of thing goes away unpunished, even in the Marvel U.  Steve Rogers got a promise from the President that they’d try and give Bucky a venue where the truth can be brought to light, but the issue ends with the cackled of Red Skull’s daughter Sin, indicating that she or her Daddy might still possibly have something to say about Bucky’s perceived innocence in all of this…

First off, this issue is a stunning visual experience, thanks to the work of Daniel Acuna (can’t do the little ~ thing for some reason, sorry Mr. A) who makes the nighttime spectacle of Cap fighting skinheads a thing of beauty, and even gives us a tense scene between Mr. Rogers and Mr. Obama that I kind of love.  In the political climate of today, this book has to skirt a thin line (after all, nobody is allowed to be a moderate anymore, you have to be a lunatic hating somebody on the other side) without actually taking an alienating stance, and this issue is very well handled in that regard. Ed Brubaker has been building this story for over six years now, moving organically from point to point and giving us some fine comics reading in the journey, and this issue is a lovely one.  One wonderful bit of dialogue reveals the truth about the JFK assassination in the Marvel Universe (think Secret Invasion), the kind of touch that allows tiny bits of humor to show in even the most dramatic scenes, something I greatly enjoy.  Even though there’s a lot of talky-talky-lip-flappin’, it’s productive talking, reminding us of salient points of continuity and setting a strong tone for the trial to come.  Captain America’s been torn apart, folks, and he’s a court jester with a broken heart, a cyborg arm, and gritted teeth, but it’ll take more than determination and grit to pull him through.  Captain America #611 is a complex issue, using the main character sparingly, but making it all about him in the long run, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall.  I sincerely hope that this doesn’t end with Steve simply picking up his shield again…  That’s far too easy, and a cheap copout move to boot.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  Can Bucky be held responsible in a court of law for actions under Lukin’s mind control? 

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. averijjoe
    November 1, 2010 at 6:06 pm — Reply

    I’d say that any sort of mind control would pretty much null and void any crimes you might have committed. Bearing in mind that the concept is entirely fictional, if you had no control over your own actions, I seriously doubt you could be held accountable.

  2. Navarre
    November 1, 2010 at 7:01 pm — Reply

    I agree that one could not be held responsible for actions if their mind was being controlled. Such a thing would have to be proven first, however, and that could be difficult.

    I think it is good that even the heroes are held responsible for their actions. I think it is even better that the message to the reader is one of redemption.

    Although, honestly, almost every time a hero does something “bad” it’s because he was mind-controlled or some such. I’d prefer to read a more relatable story where a good person did something reprehensible of their own volition and now has to live with that burden.

    The ‘The evil mind-control made me do it.’ is a cop-out on true morality, redemption, and hope.

  3. Armaan
    November 1, 2010 at 8:36 pm — Reply

    They’d have to call in a psychic consultant into court to confirm things, to search for traces in Bucky’s mind. Heck, they’d need a court psychic, period.

    And that opens a whole new can of worms. Bring back She Hulk in a title where we try to figure out how the legal system works where half the superheroes are being mind controlled, cloned or impersonated and the other half have passed on their mantles of younger proteges!

  4. seneca
    November 2, 2010 at 6:35 am — Reply

    There was an issue of Young Avengers where they and cap’n bucky invade Hydra (or was it AIM?) and I was a little shocked to see Bucky ventilating henchmen with his pistol in front of these kids, so not all his killing was done during mind controll.

  5. Navarre
    November 2, 2010 at 7:43 am — Reply

    Like police officers or federal agents, there would be an investigation on whether there was reasonable necessity to “ventilate henchmen” during times when he was not mind controlled. Such things may happen somewhat often in the real world.

    The issue with costumed heroes is their legal right to enter the situation, armed, at all. But that part has surely been addressed by comic book courts by now and heroes are still around.

    It does seem reasonable that mind control experts would be brought in to testify on the effects of such things. In the real world this wouldn’t likely happen because the whole idea of mind control is considered too far fetched.

    But in comics, where even the guy at the hot dog stand has seen Thor fly overhead or call lightning, such testimony would probably be accepted. I would like to see more of such things in comics. Seeing James Barnes on trial for his crimes, out on bail paid by Stark and represented by Jennifer Walters, would be great comic book fare.

    But, of course, that kind of character exploration, interaction, and drama would only get in the way of the “greatest cosmic threat of all time” that is coming in the next Event-of-the-week.

    • seneca
      November 2, 2010 at 9:49 am — Reply

      I am not questioning his legal right to shoot henchmen (As he is not even a police officer) I was refering to the morality of someone who blows his enemies brains out in front of a group of teenagers.

  6. Armaan
    November 2, 2010 at 1:08 pm — Reply

    You do know what happens when you try to slap legal rules on Marvel Superheroes, right? They start Civil War and fuss like babies until only the bad guys follow the rules and cause crossover events after crossover events until somebody destroys a mythological heaven so everyone forgets things again.
    Five gets you ten Bucky gets a full pardon while he saves Ameeeeerica from an evil madman with a deep voice.

  7. Navarre
    November 4, 2010 at 8:25 am — Reply

    There are a lot of things that have to be overlooked in comics, like aging and the legal system. It is interesting when the law is brought into the story but it generally has to be done in “comic book fashion”.

    Approaching costumed adventuring from a real world perspective would be a comic about law suits, court hearings, and jail time. I’m not sure how much that says for our world, really.

    Personally, I’d be glad to have a few Captain America (Steve Rogers) and Spider-Man types running around in the world. (not so much the Punisher though)

    • Obsidian
      November 4, 2010 at 10:38 am — Reply

      I, too, would totally be thrilled to see someone set out to fight crime in the spirit of Captain America (post war) and Spider-Man. Hell, I’d even be okay with someone like Batman but I fear that the good deeds of a few people would end up inspiring many Punisher-types to come out of the woodwork…

  8. BringbackBUCKY
    November 23, 2010 at 8:10 pm — Reply

    Bucky should be free of any crimes BUT he has to give up the captain uniform. Honestly he’s good as cap but he’s so much more badass as “bucky”. Plain clothes with a gun or the winter soldier look, now THAT I WANT. Plus he needs his own series where he can kill and Ed is perfect for this. Love more one shots too, more bucky!

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