This is the end of Brubaker’s legendary (and it was, for 8 YEARS!) run on Cap. It’s a shame they brought in Cullen Bunn, because he’s just not the same caliber. Issues 15-18 2 stars…Issue 19 4+ stars.
Disappointed. Yup. I mean I see where Brubaker wanted to take this, that the new Madame Hydra and Bravo are using psychological warfare to turn the people against Cap, and a commentary about our focus on Talking Heads and the 24/7 news cycle. (there’s some great art showing totally moronic people on their phones not even noticing there’s a super-battle going on, and then getting mad when a Supe saves them)
I see what he wanted to do, but Bunn just isn’t up to task to do a Brubaker.
There’s lotsa fighting, Falcon helps out, Sharon, Baron Zemo shows up in a decent duel with Agent 13. Cap gets his showdown with Bravo and Madame Hydra…
But then…Issue #19 Steve Epting and Ed Brubaker, nearly redeem the whole volume….Nearly.
First off, Epting’s cover art is beautiful.
Seeing as how Epting drew the majority of Cap during Ed’s run, it’s fitting to have him back to close this chapter. This issue runs almost like a summary of the past 8 years, but also I think as a testament to who Captain America is, was, and will be. Like all great writers who really understand their heroes; Brubaker has defined Steve Rogers the man as separate from Captain America the institution. There’s no doubt reading this issue that Ed seemed to be endorsing a new Cap for the future (and we now have Sam Wilson!).
The whole issue humanizes Steve the man, and shows his doubts, fears, beliefs in his time as Captain America, and his belief that the idea of Cap is more important than the man who wears the costume. I’m not American, but you just have to be moved by Rogers here, baring his soul to a man lying broken in a hospital, who idolized Rogers his whole life, and which drove him mad. (William Burnside or Cap of the 50s)
Talking about how his legacy had been tainted by those who would use men like Burnside for their own government agendas, and the realization that he could never control what people THOUGHT Cap stood for, even if Rogers wished he could.
“The mission isn’t just mine…the mission goes with the symbol. And if I don’t wear this uniform, then someone else will…someone else always will…because that’s the hardest thing about being Captain America…Understanding that the mission is Too Big …and it’ll never end.”
Only someone who’s lived and breathed this character for nearly a decade could get inside his head and pull this off without sounding corny or cheesy. Bravo Ed.
And so, both Steve Rogers and Ed Brubaker ride off into the sunset to bring this epic chapter to an end. Ed includes a thank you note at the end, and you almost get a tear of sadness, knowing he’s going to miss Cap almost as much as we’re going to miss him writing it.