by Ed Brubaker (writer), Luke Ross (pencils), Butch Guice (inks), Dean White (colors), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letters)

The Story: Captain America—Bucky’s Cap, that is—must find a way to escape from Evil Cap’s clutches before a heinous act of terrorism is committed. Not far away, the Falcon is working to stop a runaway train while also trying to get to the site of the Cap vs. Cap showdown in time to provide Bucky with some much-needed backup.

What’s Good: I’ll be very upfront here: while I love Bucky and had no problem with him guarding the colors while Cap was gone, he will never be the Captain America for me; Steve Rogers carries that title in my heart now and forever, whether he officially wields the shield or not. That said, Bucky does a great job in this issue—watching him struggle against a villain like Evil Cap, as well as his own self-doubt and demons from the past, is very engaging. Brubaker gives the interaction between our hero and villain all the weight it requires to be effective. The quiet moment at the end between Bucky and Sam is a nice counterpoint to all of the tense, frantic action of the last couple issues (especially this last one) and ends the story on a very nice note. In fact, this is easily the best-plotted and best-written script of this arc, and brings to a very exciting and quite satisfying conclusion.

Ross’ art complements the story nicely, endowing the characters—especially Bucky and Evil Cap—with plenty of gravitas and emotion. This gives the story a solid human center point to work from, and lets us know that the struggle we’re witnessing is as much a war of ideology and philosophy taking place in the hearts and minds of the combatants as it is a physical battle between superhero and terrorist.

What’s Not So Good: Honestly, I don’t have much to pick on in this issue. I’ll admit I’m rather happy to see this arc go, just because I’m not a big fan of evil-doppelganger stories and Evil Cap was starting to get a little irritating to me. Still, Brubaker characterizes him so well in this issue, and sends him out in such style that it’s hard for me to complain. I’m really looking forward to what the creative team has in store for us next.

The book’s second feature, Nomad, is…okay. Rather like the Question feature that backed up Greg Rucka’s run on Detective Comics, I think I would enjoy this far more if it were in its own book. As it is, all I can do is wish they had dedicated the space to Cap instead. The story isn’t bad, it just does not match the quality of the main.

Conclusion: A very solid issue, and a great conclusion to the story. The backup feature isn’t anything to write home about, but the Cap story is strong enough to be worth the price.

Grade: B+

-SoldierHawk

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