by Ed Brubaker (writer), Patrick Zircher (art), Paul Mounts (colors), and Joe Caramagna (letters)
The Story: The identity of Scourge, and the man pulling his strings, are revealed.
The Review: With this second issue, this arc is really starting to seem a like a “righting of the ship” of Captain America since the relaunch. Really, it feels like Brubaker going back to doing what he does best with Cap and much of what’s made his run such a wild success. What with HYDRA looming in the background, undercover villains, and secrets aplenty, this is a return by Brubaker to that cloak-and-dagger, espionage style that has served him so well in past Cap runs. The old school, more bombastic, though perhaps generic, superheroics of the last couple of arcs has been abandoned for a more grounded, shadowy, winding comic that is much more in line with the best loved Brubaker Cap comics. It’s a story of a serial killer and government secrets, not a time-travel hullabaloo and, as such, it’s much more in Brubaker’s wheelhouse and this comic is slowly but surely feeling revitalized as a result.
Patrick Zircher’s art also recalls the prime of Brubaker’s run, as his idea of a Captain America comic clearly falls in line with the aesthetic Steve Epting established for Captain America. Zircher’s work is also shadowy with a constant sense of tension and mystery and thus, it falls perfectly in line with Brubaker’s script.
My main criticism of the previous issue was that the plot was overly basic. This is somewhat addressed this issue, as Brubaker does complicate things a bit. Rather than have it simply be a case of HYDRA manipulating and pulling the new Scourge’s strings, Brubaker instead inserts a “middle man” between the two, a character with significant name value but who certainly isn’t someone you’d expect to see in a Captain America comic, which piques interest significantly, particularly given that his being a pawn of HYDRA seems not to be his choice. Overall, Brubaker does a good job this issue in giving us clear answers that only lead to more questions.
If there’s one main problem with this issue, it’s that the reveal of Scourge’s identity is pretty anticlimactic. In fact, the reaction of most readers is probably just going to be “who?” It’s a pretty obscure/unfamiliar character. That said, Brubaker’s done well in the past in resurrecting and refreshing characters, so while the reveal is underwhelming, I don’t think it’s something that will damn future issues.
Conclusion: Slowly but surely, Captain America is returning to what we expect from the book, which is a very, very good thing.