Captain America #619 has taught me that we, as comic book fans, must always trust in Brubaker. As the gifted scribe continued to write Captain America with a depth the title hasn’t seen in years, I kept bitching that all of the Fear Itself stuff would ruin it. Matt Fraction unveiled in the last issue of his big event that Bucky dies, or at least he really made it look that way. It seemed grossly unfair that all of Brubaker’s hard work would be undone by the need to try and inject emotional impact into Fear Itself.
Instead, Brubaker has elevated the death of Bucky in Fear Itself and given us a real reason for Steve Rogers to be Captain America again. If that wasn’t enough, Brubaker has also left a back door for Bucky to be alive, and done all of this within an issue that’s heavy on the action. Most comic writers have either big action issues or they make them plot heavy. Brubaker has us follow the rapid-fire journey of Black Widow as she attempt to free Bucky from the Russian Gulag as well as the violent final fight for Bucky within the prison walls. There’s also a jailbreak that would make AC/DC and Thin Lizzy proud. While all this is going on, Brubaker gives us a new slant on Bucky, something that makes him so human that his death is even more tragic.
Brubaker’s reason for lining up Steve Rogers to assume the Captain America mantle again is simple, but wonderful. Nick Fury points out that Rogers is not equipped to be the new Nick Fury, he hates the politics and double-dealings. Fury also reminds Rogers that even if Bucky is innocent, he’s too tarnished to remain the star spangled hero. This not only presents an irrefutable reason for Rogers to pick up the shield, but also sets up Bucky to do other work if he doesn’t die from his wounds in Fear Itself. In one issue, Brubaker has done more to heighten the excitement with Marvel than the entire Fear Itself series. If Bucky dies, it’ll be crushing. If he makes it, then we have an enigma of what he’ll do next.
Again, the art here works to split the stories up. Butch Guice, Stefano Gaudiano, Mitch Breitweiser and Chris Samnee work the art giving the book ends stories a sixties Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D. feel, while the middle story with Bucky has a gritty and violent look to it. All the work here helps to raise Brubaker’s plot as each panel is a tribute to how important movement and tone is to any issue. Though this run of Captain America seems to be coming to end, at least Brubaker will remain through the re-launch. I’m glad for that, because Brubaker has given a new life to Captain America, one that stays true to what Jack Kirby and Joe Simon created but also adds layers to it that make the hero a more well rounded human being.
CRAVEONLINE RATING: 9.5/10