Out today, Act III begins with part one of “The Man Who Bought America”. I’ve been a little harsh on the last few issues of Captain America, what can I say, I hold these guys to a high standard. Let’s just be clear right off the bat then: this is a 5 Star book, hands down. It’s exponentially better than #35 and #36 for a number of reasons. 1) Steve Epting is back. Man, did I miss you, Steve. 2) There’s more plot development here and less decompressed action scenes. Don’t get me wrong, I loved seeing Bucky in action as Cap, seeing him make mistakes and pull off his killer moves (talking about you, Mr. Luger). But, the engine of this book runs on intrigue, not action. Of course, being the first part of this arc, it has more setup than usual… hopefully, that’s less the case this time and we get more plotty intrigue in the months to come. Because of sheer greatness, I’m going to go page by page with my review.
Page 3: Great use of the flashback by Brubaker. It’s always nice to see your villain’s motivations recapitulated.
Page 5: Red Skull finally spells it all out. On that page and the next, he reveals the master plan. 1) Kill Captain America. 2) Destroy the US economy, thereby inciting riots across the country. 3) Step in like a messiah with the answers that will fix everything. 4) Setup a puppet to take control of the country. 5) Burn it all to the ground. WILDCARD: Who’s that guy on the last page?
Page 8: Tony Stark is such a bag, but a fun bag. Love it.
Page 9: Gonna need a montage… MONTAGE! I can’t help it, it was a cool scene dammit!
Page 10: As always, hot-headed Barton lets his fists do the talking for him. And as always, he ends up putting his fists in his own mouth.
Page 12: Bucky finally stands up for himself. It’s fitting that the first real challenge to his taking up the mantle of Captain America comes from the superhero community, especially from Clint Barton, the man who would be Cap. All kinds of jealousy issues here.
Page 15: At first, I thought that “internet” line was a lame call-back to the scene from Frontline where that dumb reporter makes fun of Steve for not knowing what MySpace is. But… this sequence turns out to be a dream. SIDE NOTE: I’d like to point out how stunning this panel is. So happy to have you back, Epting!
Page 17: Man, Cap is such a dick in Bucky’s dreams. He’s almost as bad as Superman. Seriously though, this dream sequence was haunting. I can’t wait for the payoff in a few months. What payoff? Keep reading!
Page 18: So, Falcon shows up to test Buck’s chops as well… but not to fight. Sam isn’t as big a blowhard as Clint, so Brubaker knows it would be completely out of character for him to throw punches first and ask for help later. Good call, Ed.
Page 21: Sharon breaks into a secret portion of Red Skull’s base where supposedly, the real Captain America is being held.
Page 22: So, if Sharon doesn’t think this is Steve… then who is it? Or, is she just in denial? Also, what’s up with the charred areas of this “Steve” guy’s chest? Are those from the bullet wounds he suffered at the hand of Crossbones and the brainwashed Sharon Carter? Could this be the real Cap? Did Red Skull switch the bodies? Cap and Bucky on a collison course?! WTF IS GOING ON!??!!?!?
See ya’ in thirty!!!