Captain America has been white hot lately. Brubaker is doing a masterful job delivering what is possibly the best Marvel title currently on the market. I continue to be so amazed that Brubaker could actually make Captain America an even better read without Steve Rogers. It is a credit to the interesting supporting cast in this title and Brubaker’s impressive writing prowess. I’m positive that Captain America #30 is going to be an excellent read. Let’s hit this review.
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artists: Steve Epting & Mike Perkins
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 Tony Stark talking with a SHIELD search team in Dr. Benjamin’s home. Dr. Benjamin did all the psychiatric evaluations for all the SHIELD agents who have gone off line and is the only link between all the agents. The search team reports that they found Dr. Benjamin’s dead body in a freezer. That it looks like he has been dead for a while. Tony orders the search for the man posing as Dr. Benjamin.
We cut to Bucky kicking ass on Sin and Crossbones. Bucky grabs Crossbones by the throat and is ready to kill him. Red Skull stands there and comments how Steve Rogers would never kill. Bucky then throws Crossbones down and grabs the Red Skull. Bucky says it is Red Skull who deserves to die. Red Skull then says the word “Sputnik.” Bucky immediately falls to the ground unconscious.
“Sputnik” is an old shutdown code that the Soviets had implanted in the Winter Soldier. Unfortunately, it only works once. Red Skull mentions how he was waiting to see if Bucky would kill Crossbones in order to know if Bucky still had any value to him.
We shift to Natasha arriving at the Falcon’s apartment. Natasha tells Sam that they are on a common mission and should be working together. Sam agrees. The two then go off to see if Sharon Carter will agree to work with Natasha.
We hop over to Sharon in her apartment. She is staring at a pregnancy test. She is pregnant with Steve’s child. Sharon is distraught.
We slide to Tony reading the letter from Steve Rogers. Tony curses Steve that he is making Tony want to drink. And Tony says that he knows him drinking wouldn’t make Steve happy. Tony then uploads the video of Steve’s shooting and intently studies the screen.
We cut to Bucky held captive in a room full of TV monitors. Dr. Faustus enters the room. Dr. Faustus says that he looks forward to getting inside of Bucky’s mind. That Faustus has been looking forward to this day for a long time.
We shift back to Sharon in her bathroom. She is thinking about Steve’s death. Sharon says that Steve knew that she killed him.
We hop back to Tony Stark still studying the video of Steve’s death. Tony thinks how the video doesn’t show a shooter at all. How Sharon was right there and didn’t see anything. Suddenly, it clicks in Tony’s mind that Sharon was right there. Tony contacts his assistant and asks her to check if Dr. Benjamin’s list of patients also included any non-active agents, too.
We slide back to Sharon’s apartment where she is slipping on her white jumpsuit and her gun. Dr. Faustus appears in her mirror and tells Sharon that it is time for her to get back to work.
Natasha and Sam then enter Sharon’s apartment and announce themselves. Sharon calls out from the bathroom that she is getting dressed. We cut over to Tony who is armoring up and contacting Natasha. Tony yells that they have a big problem. That there is now a change of plan. That he wants Natasha to take Sharon into–suddenly, before Tony can finish his sentence, Sharon walks in the room and shoots Sam and Natasha with a stun gun.
Tony puts his helmet on and orders a SHIELD strike force to go to Black Widow’s location. Tony thinks how it is all falling apart without Steve here, just like Tony knew it would.
We see the letter from Steve Rogers to Tony. In the letter, Steve urges Tony to take care of Bucky and to not let Bucky drift back into anger and confusion. Steve asks Tony to “Save him for me!” Steve then tells Tony to not let the dream die. That America needs a Captain America. That it has always been bigger than Steve. End of issue.
The Good: Incredible. Brubaker turns in one of his strongest issues yet with Captain America #30. And that is saying something since I have found to be Brubaker’s entire run on Captain American to be nothing short of brilliant.
Captain America #30 moves along at an excellent pace. Brubaker has employed his usual steady and measured pace on this story arc that is designed to create plenty of tension. Brubaker’s plotting on this story arc has been impressive. And Captain America #30 is the culmination of Brubaker’s steady foundation that he has put into place over the past several issues.
Brubaker picks up the pacing with this issue and increases the intensity of the story as we see several of the different plotlines merging together as everything begins to fall into place. Brubaker certainly takes his time setting up his story arcs, but once he starts to hit his stride he delivers some pretty phenomenal climaxes that completely engross the reader.
Brubaker crafts his usual strong dialogue. The dialogue has a pleasant flow and each character has their own unique voice. Brubaker is a master at excellent character work and we certainly get plenty of that in this issue. Brubaker continues to impress me with his ability to flesh out supporting characters like Sharon, Sam, Bucky and Natasha and allow them to carry this title. It is beyond rare for a big name title like Captain America to center on just the supporting cast. And it is a testament to Brubaker’s talents that this title is just as good of a read without Steve and just his supporting cast to carry the story.
I love how Brubaker writes Bucky and I dig that Brubaker uses this issue to emphasis how different Bucky is from Steve. The brawl at the Red Skull/Lukin’s office shows that unlike Steve, Bucky is a killer. And there is no doubt that Bucky would have killed Red Skull if he hadn’t used the failsafe word to deactivate Bucky.
I dig that Steve’s old sidekick is so radically different from him. It makes Bucky that much more interesting. The fact that Bucky idolizes Steve, yet continually conducts himself in a totally different manner is a great source for internal conflict for Bucky’s character.
It appears that Brubaker might just return Bucky back to his former role as the Winter Soldier. Dr. Faustus clearly is charged with the task of re-fashioning the Winter Soldier into a mindless weapon who will carry out the orders of the Red Skull. Personally, that is how I like Bucky the best. I dig him in the role as the ultimate urban legend that slinks in and out unseen while pulling off his kills.
Steve’s letter to Tony urging Tony to not give up on Bucky emphasizes the relationship between the two very different men. The letter shows to the reader the love, and feelings of responsibility that Steve had for Bucky. It is unfortunate that these two men weren’t able to reconcile before Steve’s death. I think that Steve’s gut feeling that Bucky would slip back to the dark side after Steve’s death are going to come true. At least they will if Dr. Faustus is successful in his experiments with Bucky.
And as always, I love it anytime we get plenty of Bucky kicking ass. Brubaker certainly doesn’t deny the reader some quality action with this issue.
Unlike some writers with the initials JMS, Brubaker continues to do an excellent job with Tony’s character. Brubaker actually takes the time and effort to give us a rather textured and well developed Tony Stark. The result is a story that is actually a compelling and complex read that engages the reader.
Brubaker writes an intelligent and heroic Tony who appears to be the knight on the white horse who is going to rush in and save the day. Wow, what a breathtakingly fresh and novel approach in the Post-Civil War era.
Brubaker also does an incredible job handling the relationship between Tony and Steve. Despite what writers like JMS may wish, Tony is a good man with the heart of a true hero. Just like Steve Rogers. And Tony and Steve were best friends. Brubaker understands this fact and that is why he delivers a Tony who is racked with pain over the loss of his best friend.
Brubaker peels back Tony’s ever confident and always in control exterior and shows the reader that Steve was a rock that Tony depended on for support and guidance. That Tony always turned to Steve during a crisis and that Tony completely understands that without Steve, Tony won’t be able to hold everything together.
One of the most powerful lines to this issue was when Brubaker has Tony mention that Steve’s death and the resulting problems is making Tony want to drink. And that Tony drinking wouldn’t make Steve happy. The fact is that despite their differences, each man truly cared for each other. And ever since Steve’s death, Tony hasn’t dwelled on the negative about Steve or their philosophical differences over the Registration Act. All Tony has done is remember what a great man Steve was and what a dear and loyal friend Steve was. Tony only remembers the good about Steve and doesn’t harbor a single bitter thought stemming from the Civil War.
And even after the events of Civil War and Steve’s death, Tony still turns to Steve for strength. The only reason that Tony isn’t taking a drink is that Tony doesn’t want to disappoint his friend even after death. I found this line to sum up perfectly the touching relationship between Steve and Tony. It is far too easy to paint the events of Civil War and the Initiative with broad brush strokes. Steve as an angel and Tony as a goose stepping Nazi. To do so is a serious disservice to both characters and does nothing more than to cheat the reader.
Speaking of Steve’s letter, Brubaker unveils the fact that Steve is urging Tony to not let Captain America die. That it must live on. I have to agree with that point. Even though Steve Rogers is the only one true Captain America, they did replace him after he went M.I.A. during WW II. It isn’t a novel or original idea, but it certainly should be interesting and provide for some incredible drama.
The real interesting twist is that Brubaker has made it clear that the last thing Tony wants to do is to replace Steve. Tony is completely and totally against there being another Captain America. Brubaker has shown that Tony doesn’t believe anyone is worthy to wear Steve’s outfit and carry his shield.
Yet, Tony is going to have to honor Steve’s wishes. Why? Because Tony is Steve’s best friend and will not be able to ignore Steve’s request. Now, you know that Tony won’t tell anyone about Steve’s letter and that everyone in the Marvel Universe will hate Tony. And JMS will write an issue where Tony eats little children and laughs about his new Captain America. But, Brubaker is smart to pull this off in this fashion. Brubaker is showing the reader that Tony will always do what he thinks is the right course of action and then willingly take the abuse from ignorant people who don’t have all the information.
It should certainly be interesting watching Tony agonize over authorizing a new Captain America. But, Tony’s agony will be private. In public he will come across unwavering, resolute and strong. I am interested in finding out if Tony keeps the letter from Steve and his last wishes private or if he mentions it to the public.
Brubaker delivers a hard hitting hook ending to this issue that leaves the reader on the edge of his seat wanting more. First, Brubaker drops the bomb on the reader about Sharon being pregnant with Steve’s child. Wow! Just when you think Brubaker can’t top himself, he goes out and manages to do so. I love this little plot twist and it should certainly make for some interesting reading.
Then we have Tony finally figuring out that Sharon was the triggerman behind Steve’s death. And that Sharon was treated by the person impersonating Dr. Benjamin. And we end with Sharon under the control of Dr. Faustus shooting Natasha and Sam and Tony is frantically trying to locate Natasha and get Sharon into custody.
That is how you end an issue in style! If that doesn’t hook you into wanting to read the next issue then I don’t know what will. That ending was absolutely insane and I am eager to see what Brubaker has in store for us with the next issue.
Epting and Perkins provide more of their excellent artwork. These two artists complement each other very well and make for a fine team.
The Bad: No complaints with this issue.
Overall: Captain America #30 was a fantastic read. Brubaker continues to make this title one of Marvel’s strongest reads each and every month. If you still haven’t given this title a try then you must do yourself a favor and give it a chance. Brubaker treats the reader to an incredible blend of dialogue, drama, character development and action like you don’t see on too many comic books on the market. Captain America is by far and away worth the cover price.