Comic Book Review: Captain America #42

Brubaker’s Captain America is one of Marvel’s best titles. Brubaker has done a masterful job with the current story arc. Captain America #42 is the finale to Brubaker’s current story involving Red Skull/Lukin and Kronas. There is no doubt in my mind that Brubaker is going to deliver a fantastic ending with Captain America #42. Let’s do this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Pencils: Steve Epting & Luke Ross
Inks: Rick Magyar, Steve Epting & Fabio Laguna

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Captain America breaking up the assassination attempt by Sin. Captain America plows his way through the Kane-Meyer guards. Sin kicks Captain America and then Sin makes a quick getaway. The Kane-Meyer guards then attack Cap once again.

Captain America thinks how he is not going to fail. Not today. Cap thinks how this is how Steve must have felt. That the uniform carriers a weight, but it is not a burden. It’s a responsibility. Captain America then takes down the Kane-Meyer guards.

We cut to Sin on the rooftop of the building. Sin is panicking that her father is going to kill her for screwing everything up. Sin decided that she must do something to redeem herself in her father’s eyes. Sin then looks down to the alley and sees the limos for the Presidential candidates and the police escorts getting ready to leave the area. Sin then says that it is time for a contingency plan.

We slide over to the Red Skull’s base and see Black Widow and the Falcon beating up some AIM soldiers. Falcon comments that the Red Skull must have set off the base’s self-destruct program. The entire base is exploding and collapsing. Black Widow says that Sharon’s GPS signal is coming from down the hall.

We cut to Arnim Zola’s lab where Zola zaps Sharon and then hooks her into his machine. Zola comments that this procedure will definitely hurt Sharon. Red Skull tells Zola to hurry. The Red Skull states that he does not plan on being trapped by his enemies or being trapped in Lukin’s body any longer.

Zola then fires up the machine. Sharon wakes up and wonders what they are doing to her. We see a white energy glowing from the machine and around Sharon.

We cut to the 1950’s Captain America strapped into a chair in a room full of monitors. He yells out that he is Captain America and that they cannot treat him this way. Due to the self-destruct program, we see the room collapsing on top of the 1950’s Captain America.

We shift back to Captain America still kicking ass on the Kane-Meyer soldiers. Cap thinks that he is wasting too much time on the foot soldiers and that he needs to catch up to Sin quickly. We see Sin on the roof with a rocket launcher.

We hop back to Zola’s lab where Sharon is still bathed in the bright white energy beams. Sharon wonders what she is seeing in the light. Sharon thinks that she is seeing something alive and that it is growing. Sharon then wonders “Is that my…is that…” Sharon then says “No.”

Sharon then manages to break free from the machine. Sharon then collapses to the ground. Zola comments that Sharon broke the connection which shorted out the machine. Zola says that he could repair the machine, but that they do not have enough time. That the SHIELD agents will make their way to the lab at any moment.

Red Skull snaps and yells “Stupid, stupid woman!” and kicks Sharon several times. Red Skull spits that his plans are ruined. Zola answers that Skull’s plans have simply been delayed. Red Skull counters that he now has no way out of Lukin’s head. Zola answers that that is not true. Zola tells Skull to come with him.

We cut to Captain America arriving on the roof of the building. Cap sees Sin with the rocket launcher and about to fire it at the limos of the Presidential candidates. Sin tells Captain America that he is too late and she fires the rocket launcher. Captain America screams “NO!”

We slide back to Red Skull’s base. Black Widow and Falcon find Sharon’s GPS tracker on the floor of the medical bay where she was being held. Falcon wonders where Sharon could be.

We then shift to Sharon walking down the hall of Red Skull’s base. Sharon grabs a gun off an unconscious AIM soldier. Sharon thinks how she cannot let the Red Skull get away with all of this. Not after all that the Red Skull has done.

We cut to Red Skull and Arnim Zola hurrying down a hall of the Red Skull’s base. Red Skull tells Zola to wait a minute and let him get his bearings. Skull says that he just cannot get over it. Lukin then pulls of the Red Skull mask. Lukin says that Zola is a genius. Zola answers that Lukin is overstating the obvious.

Lukin begins laughing. We then hear a “blam” from a gunshot. Lukin turns around and sees Sharon standing there. Sharon then shoots Lukin three times in his chest. Lukin falls to the ground. Lukin mumbles “But…but…but…I was…but…I…” Lukin then dies.

Sharon then whispers “Okay…good enough…I’m done now…” Sharon looks like she is about to pass out. Zola states that Sharon has “No concept, girl…of how utterly futile…how utterly futile…”

But before Zola can finish we see a piece of metal come ripping through Zola’s torso. We see the 1950’s Captain America standing over the fallen Zola. The 1950’s Cap spits “Fascist freak…psycho!” Sharon mumbles for the 1950’s Cap to please tell her that he is one of the good guys now.

We cut back to Bucky thinking how he is about to do the stupidest thing he has ever done. We see Captain America leaping in front of the rocket that Sin just launched. Cap thinks that he hopes that Stark was right about the impact resistance on Cap’s new uniform. The rocket hits Cap’s shield and explodes. The blast takes down Sin. Captain America then falls off the rooftop and falls down to the ground and lands on top of one of the limos.

Captain America slowly gets up off the limo and gets his bearings straight. The Secret Service agents then get control of the situation. They Secret Service agents find Sin unconscious on the rooftop and they proceed to arrest her. The Secret Service agents then tell Captain America “Nice work, Cap. Good save.”

Captain America stands up and looks around. Suddenly, the media are surrounding Cap and taking pictures of him and asking him to smile for the pictures and then to give a statement. Bucky thinks how for a second he remembers when it used to be like this all the time. All the soldiers cheering on Steve and him. Bucky thinks how for a second it does not feel all that long ago. Just for a second.

We slide back to the Red Skull’s base with Black Widow and Falcon finally finding Sharon collapsed in the hallway. Black Widow wonders if Sharon took out both Lukin/Red Skull and Arnim Zola. Sharon wakes up and hugs Falcon. Sharon tells Sam that she did it. Sharon says that she killed Steve. Sam answers that Sharon was under the control of the Red Skull. Falcon then says that it is okay. That the good guys won.

We shift to Epilogue One two days later on the SHIELD Helicarrier. We see Tony tells Falcon that Sharon does not remember being pregnant with Steve’s child. Tony says that Sharon deserves to know about the pregnancy, but that he does not want to unload that on her at this critical moment. Sam agrees and decides that he will take care of Sharon and when she has recovered and is strong enough then he will tell her about the pregnancy. But, not today.

We cut to Epilogue Two with Black Widow meeting Senator Wright. Senator Wright says that he was being controlled by Dr. Faustus. Black Widow counters that Wright was deep in Kronas’ pocket well before Faustus implemented his mind control on Senator Wright. Black Widow tells Wright to resign from the Senate and pull out of the Presidential race or else she will expose him and Wright will be publicly branded as a traitor and linked to domestic terrorism.

We shift to Natasha at Bucky’s loft with the two of them on the sofa watching the news. We see a news report of Senator announcing that he is resigning from the Senate and pulling out of the Presidential race. The news report then shows footage of the new Captain America saving the Presidential candidates.

Bucky quickly turns off the TV. Natasha comments that Bucky is a star and that the people love him. Natasha tells Bucky to enjoy it while he can. Bucky comments that he cannot believe how close Red Skull got to having his own President in the White House.

Natasha smiles and says that she likes seeing Bucky like this. Struggling with this Captain America thing. Natasha says that she does not think that it is supposed to be easy. Bucky answers “No, Steve just made it look that way.” Natasha states “You will, too…someday.” Natasha straddles Bucky and then they start kissing. (You better triple wrap it before you hit that, Bucky. Seriously, there are two people in the 616 Universe that I would never council anyone to sleep with: Tony Stark and Natasha.)

We cut to Times Square in New York City where the 1950’s Captain America is walking around and staring at everything. The 1950’s Cap thinks how it is not easy being Captain America. That it never was, but at least back in his day the world made sense. But, that this place does not make sense. It is so fast, so decadent, so wrong. That this is not his America. But it will be someday. (Oh, lord. Unoriginal. Brubaker is going to screw the pooch with this character. I can just feel it.)

We slide to Epilogue Three where we see Zola on one of his computer screens in one of his bases. Zola says that one day “he” will forgive him. Zola says that there was no other choice. There was no time for options. Zola promises that it is only temporary. Zola says that he always remains loyal to his oaths. Zola states that he swears that he will be back for Red Skull soon and that he will fix the this.

We then see the Red Skull inside of one of Arnim Zola’s robotic bodies. The Red Skull stammers “No…no…no…” End of issue.

Comments

The Good: Captain America #42 was a fine ending to Brubaker’s epic story. Brubaker treats the reader to what is actually a rather fast paced issue compared to what we normally get on this title. Brubaker cranks up the intensity and crafts an issue that has plenty of energy that makes this a rather furious ending to a story that has been moving at a slow burn for most of the time.

Captain America #42 was masterfully plotted. This continues to be Brubaker’s greatest strength. It is impressive how Brubaker can craft so many detailed plotlines and allow them to blossom and grow in an interesting fashion and then tie them all together in a logical and entertaining fashion.

All the various plotlines slide together in a neat fashion in this issue. And equally impressive is how seamlessly and deftly Brubaker puts into place the new plotlines for this title. The new plotlines sprout nicely from the ashes of the old story that concluded in this issue.

This is proof that Brubaker has a clear direction and purpose in mind with where he wants to take this title over the course of the next year or two. Brubaker’s long term vision is fantastic. Especially in a day and age where many writers seem to be just making up the story as they go along with no clear master plan in mind at all.

Brubaker continues to deliver strong character work. Each character is nicely fleshed out and have their own unique personalities. The dialogue is well crafted as always. The dialogue has a great flow and creates plenty of nice chemistry between the different characters.

Brubaker does a fine job with Sharon Carter in this issue. It was nice to see Sharon finally kicking some ass. After having to play the role of the helpless victim and get abused over and over, it was great to see Sharon grabbing the spotlight and reminding the reader that she is a very deadly and capable SHIELD agent.

I liked that Sharon was able to summon the strength and willpower to break free of Arnim Zola’s machine and ruin the Red Skull’s plans. However, what I loved the most is that Brubaker let Sharon deliver the killing blow to Lukin. That was an absolutely fantastic scene. I liked how Lukin was celebrating finally being freed of the Red Skull only to get taken out by Sharon. Sharon displayed some true grit as she got her revenge against Lukin.

I enjoyed seeing the 1950s Captain America suddenly busting onto the scene and saving Sharon by taking out Arnim Zola. I liked seeing the 1950’s Captain America resolute in his belief that he is Steve Rogers. I dig this character and think that he has so much potential. Brubaker can do some interesting things with this character. Unfortunately, it appears that Brubaker is going to go the lazy route with the 1950’s Captain America.

Of course, in any finale you need more than just good character work and nice dialogue. You need plenty of cool action. And we certainly get that as Bucky delivers some pretty bad-assed action scenes. Bucky’s ballsy move to protect the Presidential candidates from the rocket that Sin fired was pretty sweet.

Brubaker continues to do a wonderful job growing and nurturing Bucky’s character. In Captain America #42 we see the maturation of Bucky as he finally fully accepts his destiny and the duty that has been placed upon him to carry on the mantle of Captain America.

Even though Bucky has been wearing the Captain America uniform for a while, before this issue we have simply been reading about Bucky. Bucky never viewed himself as Captain America. The reader really did not view Bucky as Captain America. In Captain America #42 we finally get Captain America. This is the moment where Bucky truly becomes Captain America. And the reader completely buys into this transition and finally allows the mantle to be rightfully passed from Steve to Bucky.

It was great to finally see Bucky fully accepting the role of Captain America. The light bulb finally goes on inside of Bucky’s mind as he actually gets “it” and experiences “it.” And that “it” is what being Captain America is all about.

Bucky stops struggling with the Captain America suit and shield that have felt so heavy on his body up until this issue. Bucky realizes that even though the suit is heavy that it is not a burden. It is a responsibility.

For the first time, Bucky stops thinking how unworthy he is compared to Steve Rogers. Instead, Bucky actually feels what Steve must have felt every time Steve put on the Captain America uniform and picked up his shield. Bucky’s epiphany was perfectly crafted by Brubaker and had quite a powerful impact on the reader.

The reaction from the media and the Secret Service agents after Captain America’s daring rescue was perfect. I loved Bucky standing there receiving all this love from the agents and the media members. Bucky has been through so much during his stint as the Winter Soldier. Bucky, a patriotic hero, was perverted and used as a tool by America’s enemies.

Bucky has suffered enough trauma so it was nice to finally see Bucky getting some much deserved and needed love from the public. I liked the touch that it reminded Bucky of what it was like during World War II when he and Steve would soak up the cheers from the soldiers.

Brubaker does a wonderful job tying up all the loose ends and putting a bow on this story with the three epilogues at the end of this issue. The reader learns in epilogue one that Sharon really was pregnant and did suffer a miscarriage. Sharon’s character has been through so much and it looks like she still has some dark days ahead of her still.

Epilogue two neatly took care of Senator Wright. It was also nice to see Natasha and Bucky together. I actually dig these two as a couple. And after all of Bucky’s years of isolation as the Winter Soldier it is nice to see him experience some happiness and companionship with Natasha.

Brubaker was also wise to have Bucky pay his proper respect Steve in this scene. Bucky compliments Steve on how easy he made being Captain America look. Brubaker has done an incredible job every since Steve death of making him a continuing strong presence on this title. This is one of the few instances in comic books where the death of a character actually increases that character’s presence on a title.

Bucky’s statement that it is not easy being Captain America is echoed by the 1950’s Captain America as he walks around New York City. Brubaker does a nice job contrasting the two men who will be vying for the role as the one true Captain America. The inevitable showdown between Bucky and the 1950’s Captain America has the potential to be very intriguing.

Epilogue three was awesome. Brubaker swerves the reader by revealing the Red Skull in one of Arnim Zola’s robot bodies. That was pretty cool and I did not see that coming at all. This was a neat twist that allows Brubaker to place the Red Skull on the back burner for a bit before bringing him back out and heating up this plotline once again.

The Bad: Captain America #42 had a few flaws. The use of the 1950’s Captain America in epilogue three did nothing for me. I was hoping that Brubaker was going to do something unexpected with this character. Instead, the direction that Brubaker appears to be taking with the 1950’s Captain America is predictable, unoriginal and boring.

Seriously, do we need yet another Golden Age character who views America as prurient, decadent and immoral? Are we so insecure in modern day America that we need to pat ourselves on the back by constantly wrecking and deconstructing previous generations and their views of America? I have already had my fill of this type of writing on titles like The Twelve.

Now, even though I enjoyed the twist with the Red Skull being placed in one of Zola’s robot bodies, I understand that some readers might not be so impressed. I would imagine that the fact that there was no resolution with the Red Skull plotline will irritate some readers.

We go from Red Skull being trapped inside of Lukin’s body to Red Skull being trapped inside of a robot body. And we still have the Red Skull depending on Arnim Zola to some how come up with a plan to give him his own body. This means that there was essentially no progression of this plotline. This might not be enough of a pay-off for readers who have been patiently waiting for some type of interesting resolution to this long running plotline.

Overall: Captain America #42 was a strong finale to Brubaker’s wonderful story. Brubaker delivers a balanced issue that provides for plenty of entertainment as well as mysteries for the reader to mull over. It seems that Brubaker is not going to let up on this title and that we have many interesting stories still to come on Captain America.

3 Comments

  1. I liked the ending to the Red Skull plot, because he’s Cap’s big villain, so a “no, seriously, he’s dead” ending wouldn’t fool anybody (and Brubaker already ‘killed’ him once in this run).

    Luke Ross’ pages on the first two epilogues looked great; he looks to be a fine addition to the art team on the book.

    Regarding 50s Cap, he definitely embodies (through no fault of his own) many of his era’s worst aspects (which, at the time of his original stories, were thought to be virtues, even; “Commie-Smasher Cap”, indeed), but the book overall is dominated by guys like Steve and Bucky (who I’m trying to call James now because that sounds more serious), who’d be the best of any era.

    I really enjoyed that Lukin was finally free of the Skull and then got gunned down seconds later.

  2. When bucky (or james) for the first time is called “Cap” by a stranger, and then again at the end of the book when he finds some happiness in the arms of natasha were two really big “aw shucks” moments for me.
    -hobosk8er

  3. This is hands down Marvel’s best book. Anyone who disagrees hasn’t been consistently reading it or is in deep denial

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