As the rest of the Marvel universe deals with “Siege,” “Captain America” is continuing its post-“Reborn” storyline that’s a pretty basic story following up on one of the plot points raised shortly after the ‘death’ of Steve Rogers: the 1950s Captain America that the Red Skull intended to use to his own gain. Here, the ‘50s Cap is working with the Watchdogs in an effort to fight against changes to the country that he loves. He remembers a different America and wants a return to that.
In this issue, Barnes faces an odd request from the ‘50s Cap: be his new Bucky or he’ll kill the Falcon who was captured last issue. It’s never made clear explicitly why there’s a desire to make Barnes return to his Bucky persona, but it seems like a good way to gain dominance and tell Barnes that he’s maybe not really Captain America material. The return to that costume also plays into the stories that Brubaker has told since Barnes took up the mantle of Captain America, as he struggles to put his past behind him and become worthy of being Captain America. First, it was the Winter Soldier coming back to haunt him and, now, he’s Bucky again, which is especially insulting after he was given the nod of approval by Steve Rogers to continue being Captain America.
A lot of the issue is devoted to the Falcon, who finds himself on a train heading somewhere with two Watchdogs guarding him and many more elsewhere on the train. He doesn’t stay a captive for long, showing that he doesn’t need his wings to beat up bad guys and how just how skilled a guy who was Captain America’s partner for so long is. A mainstay throughout Brubaker’s run, the Falcon getting the spotlight is always nice since his approach is a little different from either of the Captains America. And, the use of Redwing here is fun, as we get a little bit of banter between the two (though we only hear Sam’s side of the conversation).
Luke Ross’s art on this arc has been great, and this issue is no different. With upcoming artist Butch Guice on inks, the art continues to have a similar look to that of Steve Epting or Mike Perkins’ work, though Ross’ line work is a little stiffer and blockier. He makes liberal use of blacks and shadows, but has a fluid sense of action. There’s a classic, somewhat retro look to his art and he brings good facial expressions and body language to the table, like on the page where Barnes first wears the Bucky costume again. The ‘50s Cap’s body language is just so smug as he has a good time with the situation, while Barnes looks uncomfortable in his old duds. Ross’ art really shines on the pages where the Falcon fights a group of Watchdogs, dodging gunfire and blows, taking them out through swift, effective movements.
Also included in the issue is the third part of the Nomad back-up story, which will presumably lead into the upcoming “Young Allies” title. The story has been pretty simple so far, with Nomad and Araña trying to take down the Secret Empire while fighting a werewolf. It’s a perfectly fine story, but the tone is so different from that of “Captain America” that it doesn’t hold up well in comparison. It’s a lighter book with cleaner art and brighter colors and is only connected to the main story through Nomad and, even then, the connection is loose. But, it’s good enough to rate a look by readers.
“Captain America” #604 is another very good issue of the series that builds on what came before without being beholden to it. The story is interesting and I can’t wait to see the conclusion after the final page reveal of 1950s Captain America’s plan. It’s big and crazy in that classic supervillain kind of way and works perfectly.