Comic Book Review: Captain America #36

I don’t know how much more I can praise Captain America. This title is the pride and joy of Marvel Comics. Brubaker continues to amaze me with how consistently impressive he is with each and every issue. I am positive that we will get yet another strong read in Captain America #36.

Creative Team
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artists: Butch Guice & 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 Captain America battling Sin and her Serpent Squad. Bucky thinks how he is being overconfident and that he is really outnumbered in this fight. However, Captain America doesn’t back down at all and takes the fight to the villains. During the brawl, Captain America distracts Sin and Eel by throwing his shield at them and then whips out his gun and shoots both of them. Natasha tells Captain America that she is on her way to help him. Captain America responds that he doesn’t need her help. Natasha ignores Bucky’s bravado.

We see the crooked Senator who is working for the Red Skull watching the fight and muttering that all of this just isn’t right. Suddenly, Crossbones appears on the scene and is pissed that Captain America shot his girlfriend, Sin. Crossbones starts pounding away on Captain America. Captain America battles back and whips out his knife and stabs Crossbones in the leg.

We cut to Red Skull being informed by Arnim Zola that Sharon Carter is pregnant with Steve’s child. Faust then enters the room and informs Red Skull that there has been a complication with their plans for the Senator.

We cut back to Crossbones still brawling with Captain America. We see a couple of guards grabbing the Senator and telling him that he has to come with them. That the video footage will be edited. We see Crossbones throw Captain America out a window.

Luckily, Natasha is outside the window in a SHIELD flying car. Captain America lands on the hood of the car. Captain America then pulls out his gun and blasts several bullets into Crossbones’ chest. Captain America and Black Widow go back into the building and check on Crossbones. Crossbones is still alive. Black Widow calls in for SHIELD team to clean up the fight scene and to interrogate Crossbones and the other two members of the Serpent Squad that were left behind. Captain America then tells Natasha that he has to go do something.

We shift to King Cobra and Sin in a helicopter heading back to the Red Skull’s base. King Cobra informs Red Skull that there is a new Captain America and that he shot Sin. Red Skull begins laughing and tells Faust that he knows exactly who is playing the role as the new Captain America. That it is almost too perfect.

We see Captain America head back to the rioting crowd outside of the Capital. Bucky attempts to give one of the impassioned speeches that Steve always gave when controlling crowds of people. Unfortunately, Bucky doesn’t have the same cult of personality that Steve had that got people to do what he said. The crowd jeers Bucky as not being the real Captain America and ignores him. The riot police then proceed to subdue the rioters.

Captain America trudges off with his head down realizing that while he is more than capable of handling the fighting part of being Captain America that he still has a long way to go to live up to Steve’s high standards when it comes to the other aspects of being Captain America.

We cut to Tony Stark watching a news report that shows the guards from Kane-Meyer Security rescuing the Senator from the members of the Serpent Squad. We also see video footage of Captain America addressing the rioters. We see Tony informing the Vice President that Tony knows absolutely nothing about this new Captain America.

We slide over to Natasha and Bucky meeting at Steve’s old warehouse condo. Bucky asks if there are any leads on Sharon. Natasha says that the Falcon may have found something to help them track her. But, that SHIELD’s credibility has been damages and that all of their ops on U.S. soil will be going under a microscope. Since Captain America is now front page news, Black Widow won’t be seeing as much of Bucky since SHIELD needs to maintain their distance from Captain America.

Bucky seems depressed over that prospect of not seeing Natasha that much. Natasha asks Bucky what he remembers from their time together. Bucky says he remembers all of it and that it was the only one good thing that came from him being the Winter Soldier. Bucky says that he has to be Captain America not just for Steve but also for those years that he committed so many bad things.

Black Widow then gives Bucky a kiss and says that it is a little something to let him know that she hasn’t forgotten either. (After all the men that Natasha has slept with I am surprised that she even remembers her affair with Bucky.) Natasha leaves and Bucky smiles. (Dude, Bucky, wise up. I know you have been out of the loop for several decades, but that girl has been around the block a million times. Just make sure to triple wrap your junk before you do anything with her.)

We cut to Sharon trying to find an escape tunnel out of Arnim Zola’s lab. Sharon is determined to not let Red Skull do anything to her baby. Sharon then stumbles across a containment unit that has Steve Roger’s body inside of it. Sharon is stunned. End of issue.

Comments
The Good: Captain America #36 was another phenomenal read. Honestly, I am practically speechless at how incredible Brubaker’s run on this title has been. Once again, Brubaker doles out another well paced issue. Brubaker has been employing his trademark slow burn approach to this story arc, but he certainly cranks up the pacing and intensity with this issue.

Captain America #36 was well plotted as Brubaker continues to weave such an impressively complex web consisting of multiple intriguing plotlines. The story unfolds naturally as plotlines are resolved and then organically and seamlessly transform into yet another even more fascinating question.

Brubaker has so many complex and intriguing plotlines simmering at once. We have the crooked Senator plotline. We have the Red Skull planning something nefarious for Steve and Sharon’s baby. We have Tony denying any knowledge of the new Captain America. We have our heroes searching for Sharon. We have Sharon trying to escape. We have Red Skull claiming that Bucky as Captain America is perfect. Brubaker gives the reader so much to chew on.

The reader gets treated to Brubaker’s usual finely written dialogue. The flow to the dialogue between the characters is incredibly natural. Brubaker continues to pull of quality character work as all the characters are well rounded and quite realistic. Brubaker’s wonderful character work helps make it easy for the reader to get completely lost in Captain America’s world.

Even though Brubaker’s strength on Captain America is amazing character work and well crafted dialogue, don’t be mislead into thinking that Brubaker can dish out quality action scenes when he wants to. And Captain America #36 certainly proves that point as we get a sweet action scene between Captain America and the Serpent Squad.

I know that Steve Rogers is “the” Captain America. I know that Steve is the fearless leader that inspires awe and respect in everyone he meets. I know that when Steve talks everyone else shuts up and listens with deference. However, when it comes to which Captain America do I want to read about on a monthly basis the answer is simple: Bucky.

Why would I choose Bucky over the legend himself Steve Rogers? Because Bucky is ten times the ass-kicker that Steve Rogers is. I loved seeing Captain America acting like a true soldier. Captain America uses his fists, his shield, his gun and his knife in fighting the Serpent Squad. Bucky is more than willing to use his full arsenal when facing overwhelming odds. It was awesome seeing Captain America whip out his pistol and start blowing away villains.

I also am attracted to the underdog quality of Bucky’s character. Bucky can’t rely on the Super Soldier Serum to get him through a tough situation or power his way through a rough fist fight. Instead, Bucky has to employ an iron will, a steel jaw and intestinal fortitude that you average person completely lacks in order to win his fights.

Bucky’s brawl with Crossbones really showcases the allure of Bucky as Captain America. After already battling the entire Serpent Squad, Bucky doesn’t flinch at taking on Crossbones. And Bucky is able to take a serious beating and at no point does he ever lie down or give up. Bucky knows that nothing is going to come easy for him so he simply just keeps battling and never surrenders. Bucky brings a whole new definition of toughness to Captain America’s character.

Brubaker does a masterful job juxtaposing Bucky’s success at replacing Captain America the soldier but failing at trying to replace Captain America the inspirational and revered figure. Bucky is more than capable of handling the fighting aspect of being Captain America. However, he completely fails in his effort to inspire people with his words which was one of Steve’s greatest strengths.

And this is why I like Bucky’s character more than Steve’s character. Bucky is more human. Bucky is full of flaws. However, that doesn’t mean Bucky gives up and doesn’t try and inspire the rioting crowd to stop their destructive actions. It is much more intriguing to watch a man struggle with himself and have to deal with failure than it is watching someone who is almost too perfect.

I enjoyed how Brubaker handled the relationship between Bucky and Natasha. The scene between them when Natasha broke the news that they wouldn’t be seeing as much of each other was perfect. The reader got a wonderful sense of Bucky’s disappointment at the prospect of not seeing Natasha all the time. And I like that Brubaker emphasized how close of a relationship the two had with each other and how it was pretty much the only bright spot in Bucky’s life. And Natasha giving some love to Bucky was cool. With all that Bucky has had to go through it is only fair that he get some happiness.

Brubaker unloads a stunning hook ending on the reader as we see Sharon stumble across a containment unit housing Steve’s body. Is it a clone? Is it the original body? Is it just a hallucination? Damn, that Brubaker! Just when I thought he couldn’t outdo himself he goes ahead and does it! I cannot wait to see what Brubaker has in store for us with the next issue.

Guice and Perkins crank out plenty of fine artwork. The two artists complement each other so well that the reader doesn’t get that dreaded artwork by committee feel while reading this issue.

The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue.

Overall: Captain America #36 was another extraordinary issue. I don’t know what else I can say to convince people to run out to their local comic book store and immediately purchase this title. Without a doubt, Captain America is well worth your hard earned money. If you don’t have the extra cash to get this title then I urge you to rob a bank, start dealing drugs or pimp out your girlfriend/wife in order to get the extra money so you can start reading Captain America. (Legal Disclaimer: The Revolution neither condones nor advocates the illegal and illicit aforementioned activities. Such statement is purely designed for dramatic purposes.) Yes, Captain America is that good.

4 Comments

  1. In a stunning plot twist, Bucky actually smiled at the end of this issue; long-term readers of this book will know that any character smiling is a remarkable development (seriously, though, this book should by all rights be morbidly depressing, but it isn’t).

    I enjoyed having Mike Perkins back to do art one more time, since he’s now landed a regular gig on Ultimate Fantastic Four for the next little while. The transition between all the various artists on this series is practically seamless (aided greatly by D’Armata’s colours).

    My favourite of the many, many theories being floated around about the identity of “Steve?” in the basement is that it’s the Grand Director, the Evil 50s Cap (Jack Monroe, killed in the first arc of this series, was his Bucky) who looks exactly like Steve, and was driven (even more) insane by Doctor Faustus into becoming the head of the fascist National Front, before being killed (back in the 70s). It probably relates to that time machine they got from Doom in some way, anyway.

    I’m glad that Sharon is up and moving now; her story was verging a bit on “The Perils of Pauline” after so much time in captivity.

  2. I would think that Steve Rogers being wanted by his own government and then shot by his girlfriend would kind of quash all the “too perfect” complaints. I like Bucky and all, but he just ain’t Captain America in my book.

  3. Whatever happens, that was the most stunningly shocking reveal I’ve seen in quite some time, ending an already excellent comic. I concur with you Rokk, Captain America is the crown jewel in Marvel’s stable of comics. Er, sorry about the mixed metaphors

  4. This is nitpicking, but as a longtime Cap fan I just want to point out that the super-soldier serum does not give Cap any type of super-powers. Yes, it reduces his fatigue, but by the same token Bucky has a robot arm, so physically I’d put them on the same level. It all comes down to spirit.

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