Monday, September 29, 2008

Captain America #42 Review

Creative Team
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artists: Steve Epting and Luke Ross
Inkers: Rick Magyar, Steve Epting and Fabio Laguna
Colorist: Frank D'Armata

Issue Rating
Story: 8.8/10
Art: 8.6/10
Overall: 8.7/10

Issue Summary
Captain America (Bucky) bust into the communication room and stops Sin and her crew assassination "attempt" on the Presidential candidates. As Senator Gordon Wright, Red Skull's secret candidate, is helped out the building Bucky makes quick work of Sin's crew as she is able to make her escape to the roof of the building. Before Sin can make her escape all the cops arrive at the building putting an even bigger wrench in her plans to get in her fathers good graces again.

Outside of Red Skull's base Natasha and Falcon are their way through AIM members with the help of some SHIELD soldiers in order to make it inside the base.

Inside of Red Skull's base Red Skull and Professor Zolo prepare an operating table and drag Sharon Carter's body onto the table after knocking her out with a stun gun. It seems that Red Skull and Lukin are finally tired of sharing the same body and with Steve Roger and Sharon's unborn baby's death Red Skull plans to use Sharon Carter as his new host body. When Sharon comes to Zolo's body transfer device is already active.

Elsewhere in the same building a capture Grand Director, who still believes himself to be the real Captain America, is shouting at the top of his lungs to let him because he is Captain America. Suddenly an explosion is set off inside the building by SHIELD.

Back at the building were the Presidential debate was broken up by Sin's assassination attempt Bucky continues to mow down Sin's crew while Sin prepares to shoot a parking lot filled with people, cops, and cars with a rocket launcher.

Shifting the scene back to Red Skull's base the Skull's transfer into Sharon's body is going according to plan when the explosion that hit the room with the Grand Director finally hits them and machine they were using is destroyed. In the aftermath of the unsuccessful body transfer Red Skull is yelling at Zolo that he cannot believe he has to continue to share a body with Lukin. Zolo tells Red Skull to follow him to activate his backup plan.

Finally reaching the roof of the building Bucky gets their in time to see Sin preparing to lauch her rocket launcher at the crowd. Bucky starts to run at Sin in order to stop her from killing all those people.

Meanwhile, in the now destroyed Red Skull's base Natasha and Falcon are finally able to track down Sharon's abandoned GPS tracker wondering were in the hell she is. Sharon on the mean time is wandering the destroyed base halls and grabs one of the knock out guards gun in order to find and shot Red Skull with.

Speaking of the devil, it seems that Zolo was successful in seperating Lukin and Red Skull with Lukin back in control of his body telling Zolo he is a genious. As Lukin praises Zolo Sharon appears and shots Lukin three times in the chest not knowing Lukin and Red Skull are not sharing a body anymore. As Lukin is dying Zolo is about to berate Sharon for what she has done Zolo is stab through his robot by the now escaped Grand Director. Sharon than faints before she can ask Grand Director a question due to all the drugs Zolo and Red Skull pumped in her body.

Back at the roof of the Presidential debate building Bucky is unable to stop Sin from shooting her rocket laucher. With no other choice, Bucky jumps in front of the rocket headed towards the crowd hoping his shield and the suit Tony gave him protects him from getting seriously hurt by the blast. The rocket explodes upon making contact with Bucky's shield and aftershock of the explosion launches Bucky into a cop car and Sin against a wall. A knocked out Sin is arrested by some SHIELD agents. As Bucky comes to he is greated by a SHIELD agent a bunch flashing cameras with people asking questioned by the crowd. Bucky starts to think back to how this is how it used to be when Bucky and Steve were partners.

Elsewhere Falcon and Natasha finally find Sharon and wake her up. As Falcon is holding Sharon, Sharon starts crying and admits to Falcon that she is the one who killed Steve. Falcoon tells her it will be alright as he continues to hug her.

In the aftermath of Red Skull's failed plans we get three epilogues that show us where the main characters of the story are. In the first epilogue Tony confirms that Sharon indeed had a miscarrage to Sam as Sharon sits in the next room. It also seems that Doctor Faustus made Sharon forget that she was even pregnant in the first place. Sam tells Tony that he will take care of Sharon while she recupperates from these events and will hold off in telling Sharon about her miscarrage until she is ready.

In the second epilogue Natasha is in Senator Wright's office telling him that if he does not drop out of the Presidential race all of his dirty secrets of working with Red Skull and Kronas and will be labeled a traitor if he doesn't drop out. With no other choice Wright agrees to drop out. Later at Bucky's apartment Bucky and Natasha are suggled infront of the TV watching Wright's official announcing his withdrawl fro the Presidential race and Bucky as Captain America's first national appearace. As Bucky turns off the TV Natasha tells Bucky to enjoy the spotlight while it last because while Steve made being Captain America look easy it will be a while before Bucky can do the same. Bucky and Natasha then start to make out as we see the Grand Director walking through New York City in a trench coat and hat wondering were he is headed.

In the finale epilogue we see what happend to the Red Skull. From the looks of things Zolo transfered Red Skulls brain into a similar robot Zolo himself is in. The issue ends with Red Skull's disbelief in his new body.

Highlights of the Issue
"Honey I'm home!"

"I'm the Goddamn Captain America!"

"You know that is going to hurt in the morning"

"First impressions are everything and Bucky definietly made a splash as the new Captain America."
"Who says the good guys don't get the girls."
"I don't think this is what Red Skull had in mind for a new body"

Captain America #42 was another great issue by Brubaker and Epting that brings "closure" to the "Death of Captain America" arc that has been going on for the past year and a half. I know that many people may be upset that this did not bring an actual end to Red Skull but the way Brubaker decided to end this long story arc is a fitting way to end this great story and leaving open the eventual return of Red Skull in future stories.

Now before I start praising this issue lets me just say this that for those who are expecting a big ending that resolves all the plotlines that have been building since the first issue than you are going to be disappointed. Because while Red Skull, Zolo, and Faustus plan of destroying the USA from the inside fails all three villains are still alive in some form. Also because Bucky never actually got to fight or even come face to face with the Red Skull many people are expecting for a story of this magnetude there is no actual final resolution to Bucky getting revenge on those that were behind the death of Steve Rogers.

But again for anyone that has been reading Captain America, and to the same extent Daredevil, should trust Brubaker enough to know he has long-term plans to were he wants to take the various characters. But if you are someone that is not satisfied with getting an actual ending to every plotline than I recommend getting this story when it comes out in trade paperback form since Captain America is read much better in one sitting.

The great thing about this story has been how Brubaker has developed Bucky from being the Winter Soldier to Captain America in a way that it feels natural. Like many people I was hesitant of the idea of someone other than Steve Rogers being Captain America but Brubaker has shown that my hesitation of a new Captain America was for nothing. Brubaker has shown that Bucky as Captain America is much more interesting than Steve being Captain America and I know that some long time Marvel purest may think this is blasphemy but that is how great Bucky has been in his new role.

What makes Bucky a great Captain America is that what Natasha told him that even today he was succesful in taking down Red Skull and his crew and is now in the spotlight that times will not always be that way and he is still going to have to grow more into his role as the new Captain America. Bucky along with the reader knows this and there will be a time were Bucky will fail as Captain America and it will be interesting when his first failure happens and how he will feel he let Steve down. But right now it was nice to see that Bucky does get a victory because since he has returned he never has had a victory and it was nice that in the end he was able to spend time with his girl after all the crap he went through.

Outside of Bucky, Brubaker has also done an excellent job building up the supporting cast of this title specifically Sam and Sharon. Before Steve's death Sam has been a D- or C-list hero but not anymore and he has now gone to being a B-list with potential in being A-list if his character development continues in the pace it is going. And Sam taking care of Sharon after all the Red Skull put her through not only shows how good of a friend Sam is with Sharon but also just how much respect he has for Steve to take care of his girl.

After all the torture Sharon has been through she will need friends like Sam to pull her through. I hope that Sharon does not turn all emo for several arcs because that will get old fast. I want to see Sharon return to her Sharon Carter Agent of SHIELD persona and not someone that is a shell of herself. But with Sharon having her memory of the death of her and Steve's unborn baby being wiped out it place Sam, Tony, and Bucky in an interesting spot when the truth is revealed to her and who it will be that actually tells her. In any case I expect we will see a little emo Sharon before Brubaker returns her to her old self.

Enough of our heroes lets talk about the other side of the what made this story great: the villains. It is amazing that for the past 42 issues of Captain America their has been really only one villain behind everything and that is Red Skull. I can't rememeber if their has ever been a story this long that has used the same villain for more than 8 issues. And for Brubaker to use Red Skull as the main antagonist for 42 issues shows how great of a story teller Brubaker has been. It is only fitting that Red Skull does not die and that he will return in some form or fashion.

And even though I was expecting a big brawl between Bucky and Red Skull I actually think it is smart that Bucky first victory as Captain America is not against the Red Skull but against his daughter Sin. Because for all the skills Bucky has it seems to soon for Bucky to take down an A-list villain like Red Skull. It would make the Red Skull look a bit weak to be taken down by a "rookie" Captain America. Seeing Red Skull ending up like Zolo is a fitting end to all of Red Skull's master planning that still leaves open Red Skull to gain a new body and torture everyone close to Steve after rethinking his strategy.

I kind of feel bad that Lukin died only moments after getting rid of Red Skull from his head. Even though Lukin is an evil bastard like every villain it was to bad that we may not see what a Lukin free of the Red Skull would be like. If he would have continued to be a villain or find redemption for what Red Skull made him do. But now we will never know.

It is interesting to see that the the Grand Director is still alive after this story. Now that he knows that he is not Steve Roger's or even the real Captain America it will be interesting if he will accept that or take revenge on everyone close to the Captain America name as revenge for what he has been through. Seeing him walk through New York City makes me feel bad for the guy and I hope that in some way he does find happiness and who he actually is.

This issue brought another partner for Steve Epting to help in the art chores in Luke Ross. I didn't even realize that Ross was actually helping out Epting on the art and I thought Epting drew the whole issue. It's amazing that almost every artist that helps Epting with the art chores is able to channel their inner Epting and mirror his artwork were you do not notice Epting is getting help or not even doing the art for the issue. It has been Epting's dark and gritty art that has made Brubaker's whole story so great and mixes with Brubaker's writting style perfectly. The Bucky action scenes in this issue were some of the best action scenes I have seen this book. Great work by Epting and Ross on this issue.