Comic Book Review: Captain America #43

Now that Brubaker’s monster story arc involving Lukin/Red Skull has concluded, I am curious to see what Brubaker has in store for us next. I enjoy Bucky as Captain America and I am looking forward to getting to see Bucky finally accepting his destiny and embracing his role as Captain America. I am confident that Captain America #43 will be a quality read. Let’s go ahead and hit this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Pencils: Luke Ross
Inks: Fabio Laguna

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 in 1942 in Shanghai, China. Steve, Bucky and the Human Torch meet up with one of the local resistance fighters. They arrive at a warehouse where a bunch of Japanese soldiers are stationed. The three Invaders suit up and attack the Japanese soldiers. Human Torch starts blasting away at the Japanese soldiers while Bucky whips out a machine gun and starts mowing down the Japanese soldiers.

We snap back to the present with Bucky at his loft staring out the window. Black Widow enters the room and asks Bucky if he ever sleeps. Bucky comments that he has too much rattling around in his head. Natasha answers that she understands how weird it is for Bucky to be Captain America and for the entire world to know that Captain America is back. That Bucky has been proving himself as Captain America for over a month now and is even gaining the respect and acceptance from the other super heroes.

Bucky retorts that it is mostly Sam’s doing. That the Falcon’s word goes a long way. Natasha counters that it is also Bucky’s actions that is getting the acceptance from the other super heroes. Bucky counters that his actions also keep him up at night. Bucky confesses that he remembers every single thing that he did as the Winter Soldier. Natasha snaps that Bucky is not responsible for the Winter Soldier’s actions.

Bucky then states that he needs to go out and get some fresh air. Bucky asks if Natasha will be here when he gets back. Natasha replies that he will be lucky if she is still here.

We cut to the United Nations Scientific Research Facility in New York City. We see Batroc leading a team of soldiers into the facility. We slide to Bucky zipping down the road on his motorcycle. Bucky wonders what is wrong with himself. That he did something that Steve would have been proud of in defeating the Red Skull. Bucky then admits that the victory seems temporary just like it did during World War II.

Suddenly, a police alert concerning a break in at the U.N. facility comes across the police scanner on Bucky’s motorcycle. Bucky then takes off toward the U.N. facility. We cut to the U.N. facility where Batroc and the soldiers are walking out of the building. One of the soldiers informs Batroc that he made a copy of the entire archive. Batroc then orders the soldier to call in their EVAC.

Suddenly, Bucky arrives on the scene and attacks the soldiers. Bucky wonders to himself if he should have been like your typical super hero and given the bad guys a warning first. Bucky then thinks that old habits die hard and that his gut tells him to give no warnings and just attack like he used to in World War II. During the war there were lots of times that they did not want anyone knowing that they were there before they struck.

Bucky plows his way through the soldiers and then squares off with Batroc. Bucky recognizes Batroc. Bucky thinks how Batroc is a master of Savate and gave Steve lots of trouble over the years. Bucky thinks how Steve was faster and a better fighter than Bucky. So, Batroc is clearly a formidable opponent.

A soldier then blasts Bucky in the back. Bucky flies into a nearby car. His jacket is ripped to shreds and Batroc sees the Captain America shield strapped to Bucky’s back. Batroc and the soldier then make a quick getaway.

We see Bucky get back up on his feet and then don his Captain America outfit. The police then arrive on the scene. Bucky then calls Natasha and informs her of what just happens and then asks her if she has any contacts inside of the U.N.

We zip forward two hours later with Captain America and Black Widow meeting with one of Black Widow’s contacts in the U.N. The contact tells the two heroes that Batroc and his mercenaries copied the archives. The contact says that he has an idea what Batroc was looking for. Natasha asks the contact what kind of research facility is this. The contact answers that this is the type of research facility that the two heroes do not want it to be.

We fall back in time to Shanghai, China in 1942 with Captain America, Bucky and the Human Torch blasting their way through the Japanese soldiers. Bucky heads to the main part of the laboratory in the warehouse and finds the Chinese boy genius, Professor Zang Chin. The Invaders were sent here to rescue the boy genius from the Japanese. Professor Chin stares at Human Torch in action and marvels at how astonishing the Torch is.

We shift back to a Chinese restaurant in New York City in the present. We see Batroc meeting with a shadowy figure. Batroc mentions how Captain America tried to stop them and then offers pictures of the new Captain America without his mask on. The shadowy figure says that he does not care about Captain America appearing on the scene and simply asks if Batroc carried out his mission.

Batroc replies that the mission was a success and that they found records of the remains being under examination at two facilities in the past year. Batroc says that it will not be too hard to track from this point. The shadowy figure states that his leader will be pleased by this news.

The shadowy figure then picks up the picture of Bucky that Batroc had given him. The shadowy figure suddenly is interested in the identity of Captain American and is stunned and amazed that this is the man who is the new Captain America. The shadowy figure then mutters in Chinese if this could really be the Winter Soldier. The shadowy figure continues in Chinese that the leader will be more than pleased with this information.

Comments
The Good: Captain America #43 was another strong read. Brubaker keeps the ball rolling on this title. I was worried that this three issue story arc might not be as good as what we have been accustomed to getting on this title. We have seen this over on Brubaker’s Daredevil. Once Brubaker finished up the mammoth story involving Matt clearing his name, there was a noticeable drop-off in the quality of the issues. Don’t get me wrong, I still find Daredevil to be a good read, but it is not as intensely good as it was during the wild story arc when Matt was in prison and then escaped and tried to clear his name.

Luckily, that does not happen with Captain America #43. Obviously, this three issue story arc is not going to be as grand a story as what we just finished up. However, this story arc is going to be important nonetheless as it is clear that Brubaker is intent on performing some serious character work with Bucky during this story arc.

Captain America #43 was properly paced. Brubaker employs his usual slow burn method. Brubaker always takes his time and methodically constructs the foundation for his story arcs. Captain America #43 is also nicely plotted. Brubaker almost always serves up a detailed and complex story that has plenty of subtle clues and hints tucked inside of it.

We get plenty of action scenes which keep this issue a lively read. Of course, Brubaker keeps this a balanced read as we also get plenty of well crafted dialogue. Brubaker also continues to deliver excellent character work. I enjoy how Brubaker is handling the relationship between Bucky and Natasha. These two characters work well with each other.

The World War II flashback scenes were great. I also like the fact that Marvel has been making an effort to establish the Invaders as their answer to the Justice Society of America and the All-Star Squadron. The Invaders have been largely ignored within Marvel’s continuity. The recent effort by Marvel to rectify that has been a wise move. Marvel’s greatest weakness compared to DC is its lack of a long and storied history. Brubaker use of the Invaders helps to establish the Invaders firmly into Marvel’s continuity and help them gain stature and credibility.

I love seeing Bucky kicking ass in these World War II scenes. While the Human Torch relies on his super powers and Steve Rogers relies on his mighty shield, Bucky acts like a true soldier and uses guns and knives. This emphasizes the fact that Bucky is and always was a soldier and not a super hero.

That fact is nicely re-enforced in the present day scenes as well. Brubaker is doing a fine job characterizing Bucky as a solider and not a costumed super hero. Yes, Bucky wears a costume in order to represent the symbol of the American Spirit. But, the fact remains that Bucky is not a super hero. Bucky is a super soldier.

This is why I enjoy Bucky as Captain America so much. Steve was more of a traditional super hero. To me, Steve came across more like a commanding officer than a grunt. Even though Steve certainly fought on the frontlines, I rarely got the impression that Steve was a veteran who pulled heavy combat time.

On the other hand, that is exactly how I view Bucky. While Cap was slinging his shield and serving as a symbol of hope during WW II, Bucky was pulling off covert operations and getting knee deep in blood and guts. Bucky acts, thinks and reacts like a veteran who has seen more than his fair share of blood and death. Bucky has that vacant stare that many veterans possess when they simply have seen and done too much.

I also like the fact that Brubaker has Bucky carry out his role as Captain America the exact same way that he carried out his role as a soldier during World War II. I dig that Bucky gives no warning before attacking the villains in this issue. Bucky attacks super villains in the same silent and deadly manner in which he attacked the Axis soldiers during World War II. This helps separate Captain America from the other super heroes in the Marvel Universe.

I am glad that Bucky is earning the respect and acceptance of the other super heroes as the new Captain America. It is about time that Bucky finally steps out of Steve’s shadow and receives some respect and praise that he richly deserves. At the same time, Brubaker has done a masterful job making sure that Steve’s presence is heavily felt in every single issue. Brubaker continues to do one of the best jobs of handling the impact of a character’s death that I have seen. Steve is almost like Obi-Wan Kenobi in that his impact and reach is even stronger after death than it was when he was alive.

I like that Bucky constantly thinks about what Steve would have done or if Steve would approve of what he is doing or be proud of him. Brubaker always gives the proper respect to Steve by having Bucky admit that Steve was a better fighter or that Steve was stronger or that Steve was faster. This is a smart way to try and win over comic book readers who might still be upset that Bucky has replaced Steve as Captain America.

Brubaker ends Captain America #43 with a great hook ending. I would imagine that the shadowy figure is the young Professor Chin from the flashback scene. I am curious to learn who the leader is. It certainly would make sense that Communist China would know plenty of knowledge about the Winter Soldier as well as a strong interest in his current activities.

I am curious to learn more about what type of research facility the UN facility is. The cryptic statement that it is the kind of facility that Captain America and Black Widow do not want it to be certainly piqued my interest. We also learn that the archived information that Batroc stole contained records of “the remains” being under examination at two facilities in the past year. The question is what “the remains” are? It is possible that they are referencing Steve’s remains. There is no doubt that other governments would like to reverse engineer the Super Soldier serum.

Luke Ross and Fabio Laguna do a fine job with the artwork. They continue the same style of art that Steve Epting and Mike Perkins have delivered on this title. This keeps the look of this title consistent and uniform. I appreciate the conscious effort to keep the same look going on this title.

The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue.

Overall: Captain America #43 was a well balanced issue. Brubaker keeps this train rolling as it appears that we are not going to lose any momentum at all with this new story arc. Captain America is still one of Marvel’s better titles.

1 Comments

  1. The reference to the remains makes me think of the original Torch, since they made a point of having him in this issue when, strictly speaking, there was no need for him to be here, and the Chinese nerd is fascinated by the sight of him.

    A good start to a new story (still feels a bit weird to be on something new after the epic Red Skull arc).

    I’m really liking the New Cap/Black Widow dynamic.

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