By Ed Brubaker (writer), Steve Epting (pencils, inks), Ink Perkins (inks), Frank D’Armata (colors)
After seeing Sharon Carter stumble upon a burned, but fully thriving Steve Rogers last issue, I thought that Ed Brubaker would let this mystery play out for another issue or so. Many people thought this new guy was a clone or the real deal, but anyone who’d spent some time doing some research on Captain America would figure out who this person is with minimal effort. My hat goes off to Brubaker for doing his homework and throwing this twist into the story. Because the person behind this incarnation has a storied past and Brubaker wastes no time revealing who he is or the part he originally played in the Marvel Universe. This is Captain America… just not the one you were expecting.
This issue stands out as a bit of an oddity. Don’t get me wrong, the writing is still top notch and the ending is definitely on point, but for perhaps the first time in many, many issues, I didn’t gasp at the issue’s cliffhanger. The story, while progressing methodically as it always does, reads very quickly – and I don’t know how I feel about that. Other than the fantastic backstory that was explained in the first few pages of the book, we’re given little to no progression in the actual story. Yes, it’s great to see Bucky progressing along with his new role, and sure, Doctor Faustus’ new Captain America is being groomed to eventually face off against Bucky (I appreciate the historical irony behind it all, too), but as far as Bucky and The Falcon’s investigation is concerned, they’re not really any closer to getting their hands on the Red Skull than they were last issue. One could say the bonding moments between Bucky and The Falcon is where the real progression is taking place, and I’ll give them that. But that’s just not what I wanted to see in this issue. Then there’s Sharon Carter, who while discovering the mystery of this new Steve Rogers, has taken yet another step back by being subdued by Doctor Faustus. The nod Brubaker throws to the Third Reich is very clever, however. Scary stuff.
In a nutshell, most of this issue feels like a retread of events we’ve been seeing for months now. It’s like a dog chasing its tail. Or maybe I’m just getting a little impatient. Whatever the case may be, there’s no slighting the excellent storytelling by Steve Epting or the story arc as a whole. It’s still firing on all thrusters and I’m still dying to see what happens next, but it’s really time for this story to pick up steam. (Grade: B)
– J. Montes