Ed Brubaker's legendary run on Captain America comes to its conclusion!
Captain America #19
(Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting, Frank D’Armata)
And so it ends.
Ed Brubaker, longtime scribe of Captain America, is stepping down from writing the star-spangled super soldier. This issue is very much an epilogue and a farewell from Brubaker and company, so reviewing it may be a bit difficult for someone who has only been following his work for about a year. Still, I shall do my best to pay my respects.
In this issue, Steve Rogers pays a visit to his former comrade in arms William Burnside, the man who wielded the shield in the 1950s. Burnside is in the hospital after being hit by a truck while stopping an attack on a train. Rogers tells Burnside the story of Captain America, all of them. He tells the stories of his own creation, growing up weak and bullied in the Depression. He talks about how he wanted to punch Hitler in the jaw. He even refers to Joe Simon and Jack Kirby receiving death threats for their work “fictionalizing” Cap’s exploits. Rogers then goes on to explain how the mantles of Cap and Bucky were carried on by others after his disappearance, including William Naslund and Jeff Mace from the Captain America: Patriot story, and finally how the shield arrived at Burnside. This made Burnside mad not because he thought he was being replaced by someone else, but because he was being replaced by someone who shouldn’t exist. Still, Rogers says that he is grateful for his service and salutes him, revealing that Burnside had in fact been declared dead and will be relieved of duty. Rogers says that he will bear the burden of the mantle “for as long as [he] can”, until it comes time for someone else to take up the legacy.
A very well written farewell from one of Cap’s best writers, this issue pays its respect to the whole history of the character. It was a little confusing for me, as I’ve only been reading comics actively for about a year or so. Still, it’s nice to see that Mr. Brubaker didn’t spend his last issue glorifying his own works. Instead he made it about Captain America: past, present, and future. Steve Epting’s art, while fitting for the story and gelling with Brubaker’s storytelling greatly as it has so many times before, is unremarkable. It isn’t bad; it’s just a style I find it hard to make comment on. The only thing I can say about it is that Epting's art is at home within the comic.
With Rick Remender and John Romita Jr. taking the helm next month with the Marvel NOW! relaunches, the torch is being passed into good hands . Brubaker’s tenure will be revered for a long time to come, but as George Harrison once said, all things must pass. This issue gets 10 out of 10. Good luck to the incoming creative team, and godspeed to Brubaker.