By: Ed Brubaker & Cullen Bunn (writers), Scot Eaton (pencils), Rick Magyar (inks), Guru Efx (colors), and Joe Caramagna (letters)

The Story: Cap finds himself swarmed by brainwashed cable news devotees as Sharon and Dum Dum get to the heart of the smear campaign against him.

The Review: It’s been hard times for the main Captain America book over the last few months as it’s become increasingly clear that Ed Brubaker has been phoning it in.  Sadly, I think that this may be the worst issue of his justifiably legendary run.

At a fundamental level, the writing is simply poor.  The dialogue and cable TV demagoguery of Reed Braxton is actually painful to read.  It’s ludicrously over the top and completely lacking in subtlety.  This isn’t a case of a guy making nuanced or layered arguments against Cap or superheroes.  No, his speeches are ridiculously blunt and completely and utterly hamfisted.  His accusations have zero evidence, he straight up calls himself the savior of America, and he says very little of substance beyond “Cap sucks.”  There’s no subtlety, no smoke and mirrors, nothing.  The most shameful part is that even Brubaker and Bunn seem to realize that Braxton’s dialogue is so clumsy and heavy-handed that no reasonable person would buy into it.  Instead of just, well, writing better, they’ve decided that it would be easier to just use ye olde mind control crutch.  This of course ultimately means that Braxton and everything he’s saying is actually completely unimportant.  He could literally just stand in front of a camera for an hour and say “Kill Cap” repeatedly and it would yield the same effect.

But what still beggars belief is that given how stupid Braxton’s monologues are, it leaves one wondering how he even GOT on television?  Is there a HYDRA News Network cable station in the Marvel Universe that I’m unaware of?

The worst part of the issue, however, is that Brubaker is also completely content with not just recycling his own material, but recycling material that was used TWO STORY-ARCS ago.  Seriously, we end up seeing Cap struggling against an angry, brain-washed mob suddenly turned against him.  Again.  For goodness sake, we saw just about the same exact scenario in the Mad-Bomb arc earlier this year.  Has Brubaker become that lazy and that starved for ideas?  The mad-bomb arc was basic and unoriginal as is, but we’re already repeating that?  There’s even a scene, once again, of a person distracted by his/her iPhone to the point of being unable to notice the exploding wreckage and general Armageddon surrounding them (….yeah), forcing Cap to dive in for the save.  It’s the same exact sequence that we saw just a few issues ago!  How did editorial even approve that?  Not to mention that that scene was stupid enough of the first time.

The Discordians aren’t any better either.  They’re a visually dull group of bad guys whose sole gimmick is saying that America is broken.  That sounds great, it’s a phrase that has a lot of contemporary resonance….but hey, it’s not like that phrase is ever expanded on or explain, so it’s basically meaningless.

Scot Eaton’s art is solid, but unremarkable.  It’s art that leaves nothing to complain about, but nothing really memorable or jaw-dropping either.  It’s solid art, but not stunning, which is what it would take for it to save this issue.  Patrick Zircher managed to do a lot of heavy-lifting in the last arc of Cap, which was also fairly derivative, and Eaton is not quite at Zircher’s level and lacks Zircher’s more distinct style.  And, well, this story is also worse.

Conclusion: I never thought I’d truly say this about an issue of Brubaker’s Captain America: “This sucked.”

Grade: D

– Alex Evans