Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Luke Ross
I actually made fun of the solicit for this issue when it made the usually outrageous claims of "the most important issue of Captain America since issue 25". I'm going to have to apologize for my incredulous remarks in the previews as, well, this was the most important issue since Cap died and easily one of the best issues of the consistently stellar title since Bucky took over as Cap.
The issue actually takes a break from the Bucky oriented stories and focuses on Sharon Carter and, to a lesser extent, Falcon. We haven't seen Sharon in any real capacity since she was rescued from the Red Skull and Arnim Zola and this marks the first time we really get to see what's going on inside her head and how the realization that she killed Steve Rogers affects her.
As such, the issue is a true character piece, which are typically my favourite stories, and Brubaker goes the extra mile in helping us get inside Sharon's head. I really enjoyed the subtle parallel drawn between her and her Alzheimer's riddled aunt - both are trapped in their own memories, unable to escape save the few lucid moments afforded them. The difference, however, is that Sharon's memories are filled with nothing but guilt and anguish while her aunt's are of her better years, such as her short lived love with Captain America.
I was tempted to say that Sharon's reaction to finally realizing she had been pregnant with Steve Roger's child and that it was killed during her abduction by the Red Skull was the biggest moment of the issue, but, then, I'd be lying to you. The biggest moment came in the final pages as Sharon wakes from a dream from the time the Red Skull and Arnim Zola attempted to open Doom's time platform during her captivity. We glimpse the shaded form of man that is heavily implied to be Steve Rogers to the point even Sharon is questioning if she saw Steve again.
I'm not sure what to make of this final sequence. On the one hand, this is comics and resurrections are, sadly, to be expected, especially when the character has a movie in development. On the other hand, Cap's death and Bucky's seamless return and taking over of the Captain America role has literally made for the best comic on the stands for the past several years. I don't think I'm willing to accept a contrived resurrection at this point in time. However, this is still being written by Ed Brubaker, the man responsible for everything good that I've liked about the book since he relaunched it. I'm just going to have to have faith that this is all part of his plan and not some editorial mandate possibly forcing Steve Rogers back into the book, if that is, in fact, what this is setting up.
One thing that disappointed me with the issue was Luke Ross' artwork. He's a much better artist than this and I think the problem with it stems from his attempt at mimicking Steve Epting's linework. He does an admirable job, but I think I would have preferred he use his own style as opposed to this obvious imitation.
Verdict - Must Read. Brilliant character piece that is potentially setting up some major bombshells for the back to back anniversary issues / renumberings.