Comic Book Review: Captain America #21

The Revolution has never been shy about the fact that we are big fans of Ed Brubaker. If he writes a comic then we are sure to give it a try. Captain America is consistently a solid read. I have never really liked Captain America, but Brubaker has made this title an excellent read. I fully expect Captain America #21 to be a good issue. This is the final issue of a four issue story arc. I’ve got the Arsenal-Manchester United game on the TV and am ready to do this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Steve Epting

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10.

Synopsis: We begin with the Sleeper robot rampaging in London. The Sleeper robot destroys the new Kronas building. This is all part of Red Skull’s plan to make Kronas look innocent. Captain America locks horns with the Sleeper robot while Spitfire and Union Jack take on Master Man. Bucky joins Cap in the fight against the Sleeper robot. Spitfire and Union Jack trick Master Man launching himself at them in a blind rage. Master Man misses them and smashes through the head of the Sleeper robot.

We cut to Sharon Carter having left the scene of the battle with the robot. Unfortunately, she crosses paths with Crossbones and Sin. Crossbones is about to kill Sharon when a person from off panel tells him to stop. That killing Sharon Carter is not part of their plans.

We shift back to Bucky taking a grenade from Captain America and jumping on the Sleeper robot. Captain America distracts the robot while Bucky climbs up to the head to throw the grenade inside the hole of the head that Master Man created. As Bucky throws the grenade into the robot, the robot blasts off Bucky’s bionic arm. There is a huge explosion as the Sleeper robot blows apart.

We see Bucky standing behind Captain America. Captain America tells Bucky that they did it, just like the old days. However, when Captain America turns around, Bucky is gone. Captain America whispers that Bucky doesn’t have to run anymore.

We then cut to a TV news report with video footage of the Red Skull gloating that he is still alive and was responsible for the attack on London. We then see video footage of Lukin stating that Kronas was attacked and was a victim of masked metahumans. Lukin continues to say that the British should follow the United States’ lead and create legislation requiring the registration of all super humans.

We see Steve Rogers back at Spitfire’s apartment along with Union Jack and Sharon Carter. They are all watching the news report. Steve thanks Union Jack and Spitfire for their help. Steve and Sharon then catch a cab to the airport. Sharon asks Steve how it felt to work side by side with Bucky again. Steve said it felt good. It felt normal. Right. Sharon reassures Steve that Bucky will come back at some point.

We cut to Bucky on a pay phone with Nick Fury. Bucky tells him he wants to come in. Nick plans an extraction from France for Bucky. Bucky then tells Nick that he is going to need a new bionic arm.

We shift to Lukin talking to the Red Skull. The Red Skull says it is time for him to introduce Lukin to his daughter, Sin and his loyal soldier, Crossbones. We see Crossbones and Sin waiting for Lukin in his den. End of issue.

The Good: Captain America #21 was another good read. Brubaker delivers an exciting finish to his 4 part story arc and continues to build on his over all storyline by turning up the tension a notch with the combination of Lukin and Red Skull with Sin and Crossbones.

Many authors struggle with maintaining a strong long term vision for their storylines. It isn’t often that you see a writer able to deliver solid and well paced smaller storylines that connect and build off each other to form a much larger storyline that is focused and has a clear direction. Brubaker has done an excellent job weaving his smaller story arcs within his overall long term storyline. Captain America #21 concludes a four part story arc that succeeds advancing several plotlines and setting the foundation for the overall storyline and the next story arc.

Kronas now appears to be an innocent corporation thanks to the Red Skull’s plans of having the Sleeper Robot attack Kronas’ new building and by then appearing on TV and claiming responsibility for the attacks. We now have the combination of Lukin and Red Skull with Sin and Crossbones, These two plotlines have now been rolled into one and it should be interesting to see how Lukin handles working with Red Skull’s daughter and right hand man.

Brubaker also advances the Bucky plotline. We finally get to see Bucky and Captain America fighting side by side against a common enemy just like the old days. It was pretty cool to see these two characters in action again. I loved how Brubaker wrote Captain America after the battle was over and Bucky disappeared. You could tell that Steve was crushed. That Bucky is one of the few people that Steve can relate to. Steve feels like a displace man in present day America, and Bucky returning gave Steve a feeling that the good old days had returned.

Steve’s comments to Sharon at the end of the issue were touching. Fighting Bucky was more than just the good old days. It felt more than just good. It felt “right.” That is the essence of the relationship between these two characters. Brubaker has really seized on a part of Captain America that I think most writers have often overlooked. Steve is a man totally displaced. Imagine going to sleep in the early forties and waking up in present day America. That would be a massive culture shock. Friends and family would be dead or very old, while you are still young. Your way of thinking, morals and values are now the kind that modern day people laugh at. You would feel so awkward and out of place. Bucky is a strong connection to Steve’s past. To his glory days. Bucky begin alive does more than make Steve happy. Bucky makes things “right.” I like that.

Brubaker throws a little twist into the Bucky plotline by having Bucky call Nick Fury and telling him that he wants “in.” Just what in the world is Nick up to? What is Bucky’s connection with Nick? It is going to be very interesting to see where Brubaker goes with this plotline.

I am glad that Brubaker continues to keep Bucky and Captain America separate. I don’t really ever want to see Bucky resume the sidekick role to Captain America. It would be like Nightwing returning to Gotham as Batman’s side kick. It is ok that they occasionally team up together, but not as a team as the role of a side kick. I think eventually, seeing Captain America and Bucky pull a few missions as a team of equals much like Cap on a mission with the Falcon would be very cool. However, I like Bucky being separate from Captain America for now. I like Bucky in the shadows working behind the scenes. I’m glad that Brubaker is keeping Bucky there. Bucky should stay as more of an urban legend.

Brubaker has impressed me with his handling of the Red Skull. I was shocked when he killed off the Skull, but thought it was well done and provided for a quality story. Then how Brubaker has been able to bring back the Red Skull through Lukin has been brilliant. Brubaker writes a deliciously evil Red Skull. Here is a villain that has never appealed to me before, but Brubaker has made me rather intrigued by this character.

Brubaker serves up his usual excellent dialogue. Each character is nicely developed and has their own voice. The chemistry between the characters is just right. The pacing is wonderful. Brubaker knows how to speed up the pace and then slow it down, finessing it like a finely tuned machine to give his story an enjoyable flow. Brubaker not only is delivering an entertaining story, he is also pulling of technically sound writing. Brubaker has structured a solid foundation for his story with excellent vision and discipline to keep the story on target moving along toward a specific goal.

As always, Epting provides quality artwork that is the perfect match to Brubaker’s mood and tone. Brubaker and Epting are a wonderful team and they truly compliment each other.

The Bad: No complaints at all.

Overall: Captain America #21 was a fantastic read. Brubaker has made this title an absolute must read. I highly recommend giving this title a try. You do not have to be a Captain America fan to enjoy this brilliantly written comic book. Quality character development, compelling plotlines, first-rate dialogue and a great mix of drama and action make this one of Marvel’s better titles.