Captain America #19 Review

Before all the gushing, a minor quibble. If Master Man can survive a ship exploding, then surely he is too powerful to be sent flying from a punch from Captain America, no? Minor quibble done.

Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting's Captain America continues to excel, with this second part to Captain America's visit to England to find his old partner, Bucky (now the Winter Soldier), who is in England tracking down his old master, General Lukshin, who, unbenownst to everyone else, now shares his mind with the Red Skull. And, well, the Red Skull is a bit more dominant of a personality, so by the end of the issue, Lukshin is wearing the mask. It's such a remarkable piece of writing by Brubaker, the way he has changed things without REALLY changing things. John Byrne writes about this a lot, and I think it's a fair point. The illusion of change is what you want in serialized fiction, and Brubaker has achieved that in his Captain America run.

Brubaker continues to have a lot of fun with his British guest-stars, Union Jack and Spitfire, giving them each cool moments. In addition, he does a nice job of splitting his characters into two groups of two, allowing us to see Sharon Carter and Union Jack interact, which results in some interesting dialogue.

I suppose you could make the argument that while Union Jack is totally as he's always been, Spitfire is treated a bit more like a blank slate. She works as Cap's "bad cop" later in the comic, and Union Jack makes a comment about her having a crush on Cap, but the crush really isn't present IN the comic, so I suppose we could have used some more character work with Spitfire.

But Union Jack and Sharon have so much personality, you really don't miss it.

The opening action bit is a lot of fun, with some cool use of superpowers (superpowers generally just seem COOLER in Brubaker comic books), but the rest of the issue is a bit more like a Tom Clancy novel, with backroom deals with government officials seguing into backroom deals with criminals. It's handled quite well.

Of course, Frank D'Armata's colors give the book such an authentic action feel, that it isn't hard for the book to feel like a Clancy film. D'Armata's skills also allow any change in artist to be hidden quite nicely, which has helped this title in the past with the flawless changes from Epting to Perkins to Epting, and so on.

Most of the issue is basically a chess game, with the Red Skull attempting to arrange the pieces in such a manner so as to win, and part of this lays in allowing the good guys to learn of a plan of his - and the plan is a great idea for a comic book story.

Very nice issue, I would recommend it without reservation (unless the above minor quibble counts as a reservation).

One cool point to the person who can tell me the last appearance of Master Man prior to this storyline!

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