Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Steve Epting
I want to praise this comic and gush about how great it was and the shock ending and everything that happened in between, but I can't help but think that this is also a prime example of what's been wrong with the title since Bucky took over as Captain America and that is the pacing.
It's as if Brubaker has these spectacular moments mapped out, such as the Cap vs Cap fight, but he's either being forced or has decided on his own to write for the trade, as they say, resulting in several issues where, while still enjoyable reads, we are subjected to what amounts to filler before we hit an issue, like this one, where it's non-stop balls to the wall action and story progression.
I'm sure most of these concerns would be moot if I was reading this in a trade or omnibus, but, on a month to month basis, this is quite disconcerting, to say the least.
Now, let me just dispell all that doom and gloom preamble by saying that I still love this book and there hasn't been a bad issue in the entire 40 issue run. It's more of a "you're hardest on the ones you love" type of deal where I want this book to be as good as it is in this month's offering every single month, which is probably asking a bit much of any book, even one as good as Captain America.
To talk about the actual book for a minute, this issue features the 1950's Captain America versus Bucky, in his shiny Cap costume, in a shocking fight that sees the Grand Director Cap laying a beat down on Bucky. It seems the Director is much stronger than I thought and Bucky even comments that he's faster and hits harder than Steve Rogers ever did. I have no experience with the 1950's version of Cap, so this came as a shock to me. I figured he was similar to Bucky since he lacked the Super Soldier serum.
Not only is the 50's Cap stronger and faster than Bucky, but he can take a licking and keep on ticking, as evidenced by him taking one of Bucky's bionic arm powered haymakers to the face and shrugging it off like it was nothing.
The only thing that saves Bucky is what appears to be a running theme in this title lately - mainly Dr Faustus' mental programming failing. The Grand Director believes this "fake" Captain America was responsible for killing Bucky and is out for revenge. However, when Bucky reveals who he is, the mental programming of Faustus' breaks down and the Red Skull is forced to recall the Director immediately, which results him the Director, disoriented by the mental lapse, sending Bucky flying off the building with a single punch. Fortunately, Bucky was saved by Falcon, who expected Bucky to disobey and confront this fake Cap.
The rest of the issue focused on Sharon Carter and her attempt to escape from the Red Skull - again. This time she has Sin as her hostage and plans to use her to voice activate the final set of doors and to help guarantee her freedom. Unfortunately for her, she's still not fully recovered from the drugs in her system and Sin manages to break free of her.
Sin pulls a Rambo-sized knife out in an attempt to take revenge on Carter. As expected, nothing came of it and Sharon quickly knocked it out of her hands as the two girls continued to grapple with each other. However, after a quick scene switch to the Red Skull and the Grand Director's mental breakdown, we are quickly informed that there's been a problem with Sin and Sharon Carter. As we cut back to the duo, the issue ends with Sharon lying on the floor with the knife stuck in her stomach and the Red Skull and his men scrambling to try and save her, most likely only for the Steve Rogers child she was carrying. Shocking? To me, it was almost as shocking as Captain America being killed back in Cap #25. This came out of nowhere and I hope Brubaker isn't resorting to a cheap "abortion" tactic to take care of the baby Cap subplot.
Verdict - Must Read. This issue was amazing in everyway and, despite my little tangent to start the review off, I cannot recommend this issue enough. It's issues like this that cause everyone to call Captain America one of the best books on the market.