By Ed Brubaker (writer), Butch Guice (pencils), Rick Magyar, Andrew Hennessey and Butch Guise (inks), Paul Mounts (colors) and VC’s Joe Caramagna (letters)

The Story: Bucky receives a very personal message from Zemo, and immediately runs off to go find and subdue the villain. Steve Rogers, Black Widow and Falcon set out to find him, but it seems unlikely they will be able to arrive before Zemo can claim the upper hand.

What’s Good: It’s very nice to see Bucky being proactive. As ridiculous as it was for him to run off to take on Zemo alone, at least he was doing something rather than moping around acting like a victim. Sure, Zemo is taking advantage of him and revealing unspeakable things to the public…but come on, Bucky! You’re Captain freaking America! You don’t have the luxury of feeling sorry for yourself! Even in his darkest moments of self-doubt, Steve Rogers’ strong moral compass always guided him, and allowed him to take action. That’s something Bucky lacks, and I think it hurts him quite a bit as a credible heir to the shield. Still, even if it was anger rather than a sense of justice that finally kicked Bucky in the butt and made him act (and even if his plan and backup support was nonexistent), it’s nice to see him try to seek out and destroy the source of his trouble.

What’s Not So Good: This is an odd issue. Ostensibly this arc has been about Bucky, and the way he is trying to deal with (or more accurately, escape) his past as the Winter Soldier, and the way Zemo refuses to let him. Given this concept, and most especially given the usually wordy Brubaker as writer, you’d expect this book to be chock full of exposition and character moments. Instead we get… two separate fight scenes that make up 90% of the book? I’m all for action, don’t get me wrong, but I was hoping for more than just standard tough-guy-in-a-fight lines from our heroes, especially Bucky. It’s not what I would normally expect from Brubaker, and while it’s not bad, it does leave the issue feeling rather…fluff-filled, if that makes sense, like watching an action movie. It’s exciting, but there’s not a whole lot going on below the surface. And that’s frustrating to me, because in this case there actually IS a lot going on under the surface, and it feels as if Brubaker has traded mining those depths for a straightforward all-action issue.

I’m complaining about this kind of thing a lot lately, but good grief…three inkers? Is that really necessary? Especially inkers that are so distinct from each other. I don’t have the best eye for picking out this sort of thing, but even *I* can tell the difference between them, and it really does change the look of the art in the various panels quite a bit. Boo, and hiss.

Conclusion: I’m looking forward to the end of this arc, and hoping against hope that Steve will take his shield back after Bucky goes on trial in the next one. If the book continues in this direction, I may just have to get my Cap fixes from trades and back issues in the future.

Grade: C-