Waiting for the Trade
by Ed Brubaker; illustrated by Steve Epting, Mike Perkins, Javier Pulido and Marcos Martin
Why I Bought This: This is the second of the Ed Brubaker Cap trades. Once I finally read the first one I was like ‘hell yea, give me more.’ It also features the reintroduction of Crossbones as a major antagonist and I always liked him in Gru’s run.
The Plot: The Red Skull is dead but Crossbones and Skull’s daughter Sin intend to carry on his legacy and make the world pay.
Chapter 1 – Sin has been turned into a teenager and given false memories by SHIELD. Crossbones kidnaps and tortures her until she remembers her origin. Then they hook up.
Chapter 2 – Crossbones and Sin are in
robbing banks and killing cops when
they stumble upon an AIM agent, which apparently was part of Crossbones’ plan.
A week later Sharon Carter calls in Steve to help capture them since the
villains have been killing their way across Kansas all week. Kansas Sharon
also says they can stop by a town in
where Bucky may have been spotted. Steve and Sharon notice the town in Iowa may be a little too
perfect. The official story is an unknown drifter’s car crashed into a building
and blew up and then he stole a truck and tore out of town. Through
investigating Steve and Sharon learn Bucky as Winter Soldier fought a giant
robot in town and that’s how the building was destroyed. Steve is so happy to
learn Bucky is alive he kisses Iowa
and they fall into bed together for the first time in years. They are awoken
when AIM agents break into their room claiming to need their help. Sharon
Chapter 3 – So the AIM agents explain this town is a front for an underground research lab of theirs. Last week Bucky uncovered and destroyed a bunch of their prototypes. Then on the heels of that Sin and Crossbones arrived and took over the lab by force. They intend to use weapons of mass destruction found therein to do bad things and the AIM guy wants Cap and
stop them. Sharon
radios in more SHIELD agents and they decide to raid the base. However we see
the villains were monitoring the whole thing and wanted to draw the attention
of SHIELD. We get a firefight that includes Sin turning on a group of hive-mind
soldiers known as MODOC but Cap takes them out single-handedly because he’s
awesome like that. In the aftermath Sharon
learns Crossbones & Sin did not steal a single AIM weapon but they did
kidnap a SHIELD agent in the melee. Back in the town Cap figures out why Bucky
came here: the inn he and Sharon stayed at is owned by the daughter of a woman
Bucky loved in World War II. Cap learns Bucky asked to see the mother’s grave
“before it’s too late” and realizes Bucky is going to try to kill Alexander
Lukin (the man who controlled him as Winter Soldier) and does not expect to
survive the attempt. Crossbones and Sin meanwhile torture the SHIELD agent into
revealing that Lukin is the one who ordered the hit on the Red Skull and they
too decide it’s time for payback. Sharon
Chapter 4 – A flashback World War II issue shows how Bucky gets wounded in action and left in the care of the girl whose daughter we met in the last chapter. Meanwhile Cap and the Howling Commandos have to stop the Red Skull from excavating a weapon that we learn was built by a mysterious Baron 500 years ago. The legend is the Baron came to this small German town from a foreign land, where he ruled over them in a castle and built marvelous farming machines, primitive flying machines and a giant robot to guard the town from harm. Skull unearths the robot which proves to be the very first Sleeper. Cap destroys it, blowing up the castle in the process though of course there is no trace of the Skull’s body. In the present we see Lukin is overseeing a similar excavation as he has the Baron’s plans the Skull stole back in the War, and at the bottom of the plans we see the mysterious Baron was in fact Dr. Doom.
Chapter 5 – FYI Lukin and the Skull are sharing a body right now. Two months ago Skull recruited a neo-Nazi who we learn is a descendent of an unnamed WWII era ally of the Skull. In the present Cap arrives in London to fill in former Invaders teammates Spitfire (super speed, still young) and Union Jack (British super soldier, a descendent of the original) about Bucky being back from the dead and Lukin. Bucky is also in
Chapter 6 – Lukin is watching everything and this is a new Master Man: the neo-Nazi recruited by Skull last issue. Lukin has also set a bomb on his boat that Cap and Master Man are fighting on so even if Cap survives it will like he is pursuing an illegal vendetta against Lukin. Master Man has Cap and Jack on defense though when Jack gets punched through a wall he finds the bomb. Cap radios Spitfire in to assist and she evacuates the entire boat before it detonates. Lukin releases the security footage of Cap and Jack breaking into his boat to the media. The heroes are ordered to stand down by MI-5 until
arrives and pulls rank. Cap is shaking down leads on Bucky, who meanwhile tails
learns what the heroes are up to. Sharon Sharon tracks
down the security force from last night only to find the dead bodies of both
the neo-Nazis and a bunch of RAID agents along with plans for an airstrike on . Red Skull lets
Master Man know Cap finding the plans is part of his master plan. London
Chapter 7 – Crossbones & Sin arrive in
and decide to load their small plane with explosives and crash it into
during the charity event. Cap wants all air traffic in London grounded but
being the plans they found are half burned and have no date on them all MI-5 can
do is increase airport security; Cap however is sure the charity event is the
day of the attack. Bucky investigates a lead in the Kronas Tower subway and is horrified by what he
finds. At the Charity event Lukin has spotlights and bi-planes circling his
building which Cap says is meant to distract the heroes so they will publically
fail again. Cap decides a blimp in the Kronas air show is the real weapon. On
the blimp Master Man and his thugs have killed the crew. Cap, Spitfire and
Union Jack confront him but in the melee the blimp catches fire. Winter Soldier
is about take a shot on Lukin but when he sees the blimp going down he drops
his gun to see if he can assist Cap. Steve orders the Invaders to bail out
promising that he can take down Master Man and steer the blimp into the London
on his own. Steve successfully diverts the blimp but Master Man throws himself
and Steve out of it though Cap catches the edge of a building to save himself.
Just then Crossbones and Sin arrive and Lukin is worried as their kamikaze
attack is not part of his or Skull’s plan. However he presses a contingency
button and wakes up a Sleeper robot (which is what Bucky apparently saw in the
subway last issue). The robot takes out the plane (Crossbones and Sin had
already parachuted to safety) as Cap and Bucky look on in awe. Thames River
Chapter 8 – The Sleeper starts blowing sh*t up including the Kronas building once Lukin is out of it. Cap attempts to take the fight to the Sleeper while
Critical Thoughts: This is excellent. The only thing to really be said is everyone tells you Brubaker's run is great. And then you read it and it’s even better than everyone says.
I love this trade. In some ways I like it even better than the first “Winter Soldier” trade. Sure that one is the bigger more important historical story and its pushes Cap on a personal level like few stories ever. I have not a bad thing to say about it. But for visceral action this story is better. Bru’s spy espionage style works so well on this title and that tone pervades every page of this but this time its being combined with a lot of traditional comic book action elements and Silver Age Cap foes and it all blends together perfectly so that if you are a longtime Cap fan it feels like you are reading a timeless Cap story that also feelis fresh and modern.
This is best seen in those two final chapters which are just everything I would ever want in a Captain America comic. I think Master Man has always been a strong second tier villain for Cap so it’s good to have him back. I love the Sleepers. My love of Captain
is directly tied to Stan Lee’s original Sleeper story which I had a big giant
oversized coloring book of when I was a kid. I love Crossbones. He is one of
Gru’s better creations, and Brubaker keeps the spirit of the character the
same: ruthless, brutal and if anything more deadly. Lukin meanwhile remains a
compelling new villain and the gimmick of him and Skull sharing a body works
well. The suspense of all these different players converging on America is palpable in
chapter 6 and the two issue fight scene that follows is a classic. London
In the first chapter I really like Crossbones narration when he is watching old WWII newsreels of Cap. Although I will say the SHIELD can turn people into teenagers thing is a WTF moment, especially since it is just casually mentioned as something that happened off camera.
The two follow up chapters in
with AIM are another really good use
of Bru’s espionage style. Idaho
also has never been written better than she is by Bru. Sharon
The WWII flashback adventure does nothing for me, but then I don’t think I’ve ever read a Cap and Bucky in WWII story that I’ve liked from Stan Lee through Mark Waid. In a lot of ways if you’ve read one, you’ve read them all and none of them are very interesting. Though I will say I like the Dr. Doom time-travel twist. I think that’s a fine way of explaining how the Skull later built his own Sleepers at the end of the War.
Grade: A Nuff Said.