Comic Book Review: Captain America #25

Captain America #25 is a landmark issue. I mean a huge issue. I was lucky in that I had no idea what was in store for us with this issue. I’m glad, because if the ending had been spoiled then Captain America #25 wouldn’t have had nearly the impact that is was supposed to have. Let’s go ahead and do this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Steve Epting

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10.

Synopsis: We begin with a flashback scene to skinny Steve Rogers signing up for the Super Soldier program. We see the origin of Captain America and how he never stopped fighting for what he believed in or for what he believed his country should be. (Same could be said for Stalin and Castro.)

We cut to a news reporter live outside a Federal Courthouse in Manhattan. Captain America’s trial is going to take place at this courthouse and the trial will be broadcast live on all networks. We see a crowd of Captain America supporters outside as well as Captain America detractors.

Sharon Carter is outside the courthouse. She is talking to Nick Fury through an earpiece. Nick tells her that their plan is risky, but it is going to work. Sharon flashes back to when she first saw the old newsreels of Captain America. Sharon remembered the stories from her Aunt Peggy who worked with Captain America in France as part of the French Resistance. Her Aunt Peggy and Captain America had a brief affair during the war.

Sharon remembers the first time she came face to face with Captain America. She then knew why her Aunt Peggy had fallen in love with Captain America. His kindness behind those eyes hardened by war.

We cut to Bucky standing outside the courthouse talking to Nick Fury through an earpiece. Nick tells Bucky to follow Sharon’s lead. Suddenly, the armored prison vehicle arrives with Captain America. Captain America is led out of the prison vehicle and is surrounded by armed guards. Captain America is in handcuffs.

Bucky then flashes back to when he first met Captain America and became his partner. That Captain America was that sainted can-do-no-wrong older brother that you just can’t help but to look up to. That Captain America was grace under pressure and strong in the face of horror.

We cut back to the steps of the courthouse. Some bystanders start throwing tomatoes at Captain America. Captain America looks up at the buildings near the courthouse and notices the glimmer of the scope from a sniper’s rifle.

We cut to Faustus and Red Skull/Lukin watching Captain America on TV. Faustus says they should call off the plan. That Captain America has spotted the sniper. Red Skull says that Captain America’s abilities won’t save him this time.

We see the sniper shoot his rifle. Captain America tells one of the guards to look out as the bullet nails Captain America in his shoulder. Sharon Carter rushes toward Captain America. We see the barrel of a gun pointed at Captain America’s side and three more shots ring out. The guard yells that Captain America is down. The guard then yells for the location of the sniper. Sharon holds Captain America and yells “NOOOO!”

Captain America tells Sharon to get the crowd to safety. That no more innocents should get hurt. (Oh now you think about the innocent bystanders after waging your personal crusade against the government.) Sharon yells for help.

We see Bucky smashing through the window where the sniper was located. The Falcon streaks into the room and attacks Bucky. Bucky tells the Falcon that he is working for Nick Fury and that he wasn’t the sniper. Nick then radios Bucky to tell him that he spotted the sniper.

We cut to Captain America being placed on an ambulance. Nick tells Sharon to calm down. That Captain America has been shot before. That he will be all right. Nick asked Sharon what happened. Sharon responds that she doesn’t know. That the crowd was going nuts and then she heard shots ring out.

We shift to the Falcon carrying Bucky and flying after the helicopter that Nick spotted the sniper get inside of. Bucky shoots down the helicopter. The sniper is Crossbones. Crossbones abandons the wounded helicopter by jumping out and grabbing Bucky from the Falcon’s grasp. The two men crash to the roof of a nearby building. Bucky and Crossbones start brawling.

We see Sin informing Red Skull that Bucky is fighting Crossbones. Red Skull instructs Sin to stick with the plan and let Crossbones take care of himself. Sin puts on a black wig and enters Mercy Hospital.

We see Bucky kicking the crap out of Crossbones. Bucky knocks out Crossbones. The Falcon arrives and tells Bucky that he has to leave because S.H.I.E.L.D.’s cape killers are going to be here any minute. Bucky asks Falcon to take care of Crossbones for him. Bucky then takes off. The cape killers arrive and take Crossbones into custody.

We shift to the ambulance rushing Captain America and Sharon to Mercy hospital. Captain America tells Sharon that she is so pretty. That she takes his breath away. We see the Falcon arriving at Mercy hospital the same time as the ambulance.

We see the Falcon in the waiting area thinking back to when he and Captain America were a team. That Captain America is his brother. That the Falcon isn’t ready for a world without Captain America in it.

We see Sharon Carter in the bathroom splashing off her face. Sin, wearing a wig and nurse outfit, walks in and tells Sharon that Doctor Faustus wanted her to tell Sharon something. Faustus says “Remember.” Suddenly, memories flood Sharon’s mind. She sees Captain America hit the ground after the sniper shot and the crowd going crazy. We then see Sharon next to Captain America. She pulls out her gun and shoots him three times in the stomach.

Sharon crumples to the floor in tears. She mumbles “No…no…what did I do.” We cut to Captain America lying on a hospital bed with blood all over the sheets. We see Captain America’s eyes wide open in a death stare. Captain America is dead.

Comments
The Good: Wow! Damn, I was not expecting that. See, I managed to stay absolutely spoiler free with regard to Captain America #25. And am I ever glad that I did. Being spoiler free made this one stunning and powerful read. Brubaker did a fantastic job on Captain America #25. Just amazing.

Brubaker managed to create an incredibly emotional read without it seeming too over the top or cheesy. Brubaker gave this issue genuine emotion. This issue grabbed the reader from the beginning and didn’t let go until the end. Brubaker really delivered a work of art with this writing on Captain America #25.

Brubaker did a wonderful job cultivating strong emotional reactions from the various long time supporting characters to Captain America. Bucky, Sharon Carter and the Falcon are three of the biggest supporting characters in Captain America’s history. I love that Brubaker constructed this issue around the flashbacks of these three characters. I dig that each character gave their impression and view of Captain America, the man that he is, his wonderful attributes and why they love him.

This was a really neat way to give the reader some insight into the emotions raging inside of these three characters at such a critical moment. Plus, it enabled Brubaker to effectively eulogize Captain America by having each of the three characters praise Captain America’s greatest attributes. I really liked the three different perspectives that Bucky, Sharon Carter and the Falcon brought to this story.

Brubaker served up his usual well crafted dialogue. Each character had the proper external voice. Captain America #25 was also perfectly paced. Brubaker does a great job moving the story at a steady pace. The constant cutting back and forth between scenes after Captain America gets shot does an excellent job creating tension and a sense of panic in the reader. I was sitting on the edge of my seat from the moment that Captain America was shot to the very end. Brubaker did such an impressive job constructing a gripping story.

The ending was just amazing. My jaw was on the floor when Sharon got back her memories. I definitely didn’t see this coming at all. But, I really liked it. I dig that Brubaker finally tied in Dr. Faustus and his treatments with Sharon Carter into the main storyline. I was really wondering where Brubaker was going with Dr. Faustus and his treatment of Sharon Carter. And it seemed that Brubaker had kind ignored that plotline for a while. But, Brubaker did a wonderful job working that plotline back into the mix and using it to deliver an incredibly dramatic ending.

Red Skull not only gets revenge on Captain America by having him killed, but he also destroys Sharon Carter in the process by having her be the unwitting instrument of Captain America’s death. This plan just further establishes the Red Skull as on of the most evil bastards on the face of the planet.

Killing Captain America isn’t enough for the Red Skull. He has to cause as much pain and trauma as possible. This plan definitely increases Red Skull’s standing as a truly evil and soulless villain. It also gets the reader eager to finally see the Red Skull get what he so richly deserves at some point in the future.

I absolutely loved this evil and delicious twist of having Sharon Carter revealed as Captain America’s killer. This move will serve to have a huge impact on characters like Bucky, Nick Fury and the Falcon. It will also radically alter Sharon’s character. I’m extremely interested to see how Sharon handles this entire situation.

Plus, I think it is kind of cool that the villain actually won. It is a real rarity that the bad guy has a definitive win. Yet, we certainly get that with Captain America #25. The Red Skull finally won. He killed his arch nemesis in Captain America. Of course, we know that the Red Skull hasn’t won the war, yet. Captain America’s allies are going to continue the fight against the Red Skull. And I would imagine that eventually Captain America will be brought back to life to deliver the final blow in defeating the Red Skull.

Brubaker has certainly laid the foundation for what has the potential to be a fantastic story arc. I imagine that until Captain America is brought back to life that his title will center on Bucky, Sharon Carter, the Falcon and Nicky Fury teaming up to take down Red Skull/Lukin, Doctor Faustus and Sin. I’m hooked. I can’t wait to see what Brubaker has in store for us.

Now, let’s address all the gnashing of teeth and complaining that is sure to arise in the wake of Captain America’s death. To all the people who are spitting mad over Captain America getting killed off, take a deep breathe, back away from the ledge and relax. You know Steve Rogers isn’t dead. He is going to make a dramatic comeback probably by next year.

Captain America is as dead as Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Wonder Man, Jean Grey, Professor X, Magneto, Hawkeye and Superman just to name a few off the top of my head. There are tons more to prove that death is just a temporary state of being in the world of comic books. Hell, if Bucky and Jason Todd can be brought back from the dead then absolutely anyone can.

Captain America’s death is most analogous to Superman’s death. It gives Marvel their chance to parade the death of one of their icons through all their different titles. It also gives Marvel a ton of publicity from the mainstream press that hasn’t reported on comic books since Superman was “killed.” It creates plenty of buzz entering the summer blockbuster movie season where Marvel is offering us Spider-Man 3 and Fantastic Four 2.

The death of Captain America is a pure publicity stunt to garner some attention from DC who shocked Marvel by creating more buzz over the events of 52 and Countdown than Marvel was able to create with Civil War. Marvel will ride this pony for as much attention as possible for about a year and then herald the triumphant return of Captain America which will be next year’s huge event and sell tons of comic books. And Marvel can tie Captain America’s return into the beginning of the end of The Initiative storyline.

Marvel is already getting ready to do the very same thing with Thor. They killed off Thor. Then they let him rest for a year or so and then plan on brining him back in spectacular fashion. This builds excitement and anticipation in the readers and garners huge sales numbers for a title that wasn’t a chart burner before Thor got killed off.

So, fear not loyal Captain America fans. Steve Rogers will return at some point in the near future. And I have a good guess how Brubaker is going to bring back Captain America. If memory serves correctly, Red Skull has a cosmic cube in his possession. That cosmic cube would be a rather convenient plot device to bring back Captain America from the dead.

The Bad: Of course, just because I gave this issue 8 out of 10 Night Girls, doesn’t mean I don’t have some serious issues with Captain America #25. I certainly do. I thought the way that Captain America went out was pretty lame. A big time icon and war hero like Captain America deserves to go out in a blaze of glory. Captain America deserves to die with his boots on and not handcuffed and shot while defenseless.

Plus, Captain America’s death had no meaning or purpose for me. When a hero dies, it has to have meaning. He needs to die fighting a hopeless battle against a much larger foe or number of villains. He needs to die saving a bunch of people from a terrible disaster. He needs to sacrifice himself to save a city or an entire planet. He has to die taking out the villain with him. Just anything that gives his death a meaning and purpose.

Sorry, bumping the prison guard out of the way doesn’t count. That is no where big enough. Plus, that sniper bullet isn’t what killed Captain America. Nor is couching Captain America’s death as some sort of philosophical or political statement good enough for me. A martyr’s death isn’t a hero’s death. And Captain America is a soldier. He is a hero. Not a martyr.

And the idea that Captain America’s death is supposed to symbolize the death of America’s soul or the concept of freedom with the passage of the Super Hero Registration Act and the advent of The Initiative is just too lame and cheesy to accept.

I also have an issue with how Brubaker framed the death of Captain America. Now, I praised his usage of the three supporting characters as the framework for this issue. However, by centering the story around the thoughts and feelings of the supporting characters instead of Captain America effectively shut us out from Captain America’s thoughts and feelings.

By not delving into Captain America’s thoughts and feelings, the reader feels completely detached from Captain America. It made Captain America’s death feel cold and remote. I would much rather have a more personal and close connection with the hero and his thoughts and feelings up to his death. Instead, it just felt like we were watching Captain America’s death from afar. That Captain America wasn’t even the center of attention or the star of his own death scene.

What really annoys me with this death is Joe Quesada’s attitude. Quesada made a huge deal about why only a D-list character was killed off during the Civil War mini-series.

Quesada said that if they had killed off a big name like Captain America or Iron Man then the death wouldn’t have much meaning. That everyone would know that at some point in the future that Captain America or Iron Man would be brought back. Therefore, it was pointless to kill off a big name. By killing off a minor character like Goliath, the death would have more impact, because a character as minor as Goliath would likely forever remain dead.

Then I see Joey Q’s chubby ass all over CNN and MSNBC talking about the importance of Captain America’s death. That he didn’t want to kill Captain America if it wasn’t going to have a serious purpose or meaning. Joey Q talked up the impact of killing off such a major character.

It totally contradicted what Quesada said when defending killing off a minor character in Civil War instead of a major character. Now that Quesada is whoring himself out for attention from the mainstream media he is going to play up the importance and meaning of the death of a huge character like Captain America after having basically dismissed those kind of deaths as pointless.

I almost wish Quesada would just look at the camera and wink. We all know this is a huge media ploy. All I ask is that Quesada try to maintain some semblance of internal consistency on his views concerning deaths of big name characters.

And damn it Quesada, could you have held off on the massive media blitz for at least one day? I was lucky that I went right to a Starbucks after getting my new comic books and read Captain America #25 there. This is because once I got back to the office at just 1:00 pm it was already over every single website from CNN.com, MSNBC.com, AOL.com to a whole bunch of other sites. Plus, it was all over TV. That is pathetic that the Quesada unleashed the media blitz just hours after the new comic books hit the shelf yesterday.

Overall: Captain America #25 was a stunning read if you managed to remain spoiler free like I did. Brubaker did a wonderful job delivering an incredibly powerful and emotional read. I am excited to see where Brubaker goes from here. And I certainly look forward to the eventual triumphant return of Steve Rogers.

4 Comments

  1. The death of Captain America is a pure publicity stunt to garner some attention from DC who shocked Marvel by creating more buzz over the events of 52 and Countdown than Marvel was able to create with Civil War.

    I’d have to disagree that 52/Countdown generated more buzz than “Civil War.” In terms of sales and media attention, Marvel far outdid DC.

    The death of Cap was Brubaker’s idea, and already planned in some form before CW (which made him decide to bring it forward).

  2. Marvel got more sales true, but I dunno if media attention matters all that much.

    I think the difference is that most people only talked about Civil War when it was late. People talk about 52 and other stuff because it’s interesting. In terms of critical acclaim, DC is slaughtering Marvel.

  3. 52 was an impressive achievement by any standard, to be sure, but I would say that CW as a whole was bigger, once all the crossover sales boosts are taken into account (Marvel won 11 of 12 months in 2006).

    Buzz is hard to quantify, but it’s been my impression that the web and shops have generally been more hyped for that.

    As for generating hype on the death, no doubt; once they decided to kill him, why not publicize it to increase sales (I’m not saying that releasing the news early, if they did, was a good idea)?

  4. Are you kidding me? His ass better stay dead, cause I shelled out 60.00 bucks last night on ebay for this issue.I seen them going for over a 100.00.Thats insane for a book half a day old. But youre right,he will be back before you know it,although I think it would be better if he didnt. Great review as always Rokk!!

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