While Brubaker’s epic storyline, "The Death of Captain America", may have wound to a close, there’s really very little to distinguish this arc from that story. Brubaker has segued Bucky neatly into the title role, and in this, the second of a three-part storyline, we’re reminded just what that means for Captain America, given Bucky’s past. It means a whole heap of baggage, in both directions: On one side, Bucky’s time as the Winter Soldier. On the other, quintessential Cap villain, Batroc the Leaper.
Having stuck largely to mad scientists, master manipulators and assassins for a good couple of years, Brubaker’s choice to use Batroc is a refreshing change of context -– that said, it’s presumably also some kind of bet he’s got going that he can take a villain most people consider a joke and make him seem like a credible threat. Even with the character’s design working against them, Brubaker and Ross manage to do so, through a beautifully choreographed fight scene.
Much of this issue is set up as Bucky is tricked into following a trail that Batroc has deliberately left for him. With that knowledge given to readers in advance, Bucky’s confidence -- or perhaps, overconfidence -- as the new Cap is highlighted, as he chooses to believe that it’s his own skill which has him on the fast-track to catching up with Batroc.
The ultimate reveal is perhaps a little less satisfying, however, as Bucky faces down an opponent from his past. Whether or not we’re supposed to know who he is, however, is less obvious. The character design looks a lot like The Void, who readers will know as the Sentry’s arch-nemesis/alter-ego -- but to have him showing up in Cap, now, would be an incredibly strange choice. The lack of any definitive identification means that the cliffhanger is confusing where it should be compelling.
Even so, Brubaker’s work on the title is undeniably worth reading. It’s hard to argue that his “Captain America” run has been anything other than great comics, and will certainly be enjoyed as a classic further down the line -- it’s a lucky opportunity for us, then, that we get to experience it first hand.