World Without Cap: Who Can Save America?

Can anybody step up and fill the void left by Steve Rogers?

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By Eric Drumm

CAPTAIN
AMERICA #32
cover by
Steve Epting

Steve Rogers is not coming back. And while friends such as Falcon and Black Widow (among others) try their best to carry on his legacy, they seem to keep coming up short. Cap's former partner Bucky has fallen under the manipulation of the evil Dr. Faustus, his girlfriend Sharon Carter also finds herself mind-controlled—forced to commit murder—and S.H.I.E.L.D. under Tony Stark has no idea how to stop the madness. With a mysterious new Captain America set to take up the mantel in CAPTAIN AMERICA #34, will he be in time to stop the machine the Red Skull has put into motion? Cap met his demise back in CAPTAIN AMERICA #25, and seven issues later he remains buried. With the CAPTAIN AMERICA banner still blazing across the cover, it seems that a sniper's bullet can't kill the Super Soldier's legacy, and Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort credits this dedication to the readers.

CAPTAIN
AMERICA #32
interior art by
Steve Epting

"The overall reaction has been overwhelmingly positive," says Brevoort about fan response so far. "It's almost a cliché now for a reviewer talking about the latest issue to say something along the lines of 'Cap is still dead, and the series just keeps rolling along.' Readers seem very much invested in the story, even beyond their love for Steve Rogers or Captain America." The Red Skull accomplished his goal of killing Cap once and for all, and has since moved on to the next stage of his plan—destroying America itself. Using his friends like pawns on an evil chessboard, the Skull, via minion Dr. Faustus, has transformed S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Carter into his personal avatar, delivering the killing shot to her lover and taking out anybody else in the way. So far, Sharon's body count holds at one with Cap's death, as she merely incapacitated her other victims. Could she be learning to break free of her psychic chains and do some good again? Perhaps, says Brevoort, provided she can stay alive.

CAPTAIN
AMERICA #32
interior art by
Steve Epting

"Well, Bucky may have just killed Sharon at the end of #31," reminds Brevoort of the shocking final panel. "But assuming she survived, she's definitely bristling at Faustus' mental control. By that same token, Faustus is a master at mental manipulation, and was able to get Sharon to shoot Steve, so it seems unlikely that she's going to be able to get out from under his thumb without some outside help." While Cap's friends and allies scratch their heads trying to make sense of the events around them, the Skull remains busy. Building a private army using the resources of his alter ego Aleksander Lukin, he now has incredible manpower under the flag of the Kronas Corporation. Operating in secret while our heroes wander directionless, who can stop the Nazi fiend? "The new Captain America, of course! But we won't get to him until #34…" Brevoort warns mysteriously.

CAPTAIN
AMERICA #32
interior art by
Steve Epting

The new Cap aside, don't count Bucky out quite yet. Freed of his life as the Winter Soldier, Bucky has fought hard to redeem himself as well as exact his revenge for the death of his friend. However, Bucky's overzealousness led to capture by the Skull and subsequent mental torture by Faustus who has used false memory implants to turn his victim's mind to fragile glass. Given his delicate psyche, will Bucky be turned back into a living weapon and kill on command once more? "I'd think that Bucky would be relatively easy to brainwash at this point, given the decades of mental conditioning he went through as the Winter Soldier," explains Brevoort. "His mind is already hard-wired in a certain direction, so it shouldn't take much to push him over the edge in that direction." The question remains if his desire to be a hero once again will provide the shield against his own darkness. In this deadly game of minds and armies, one player hasn't

CAPTAIN
AMERICA #32
interior art by
Steve Epting

entered the court yet: the aforementioned new Captain America. This new Cap could be the one to put this whole mess to rest while ushering a new age for the Star Spangled Avenger. His identity shrouded in mystery, it will remain that way until January's CAPTAIN AMERICA #34. Like all good mysteries, there will be clues along the way, and Brevoort says that readers should keep their eyes open. Wide open. "I think I can say, though, that by the time you read through #32, you'll have seen him, whether you know it or not," promises the editor. Things look dark, but the memory of Captain America may cut through the darkness like a well-thrown adamantium/vibranium shield. Salute your superiors with CAPTAIN AMERICA #32, by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting, on sale November 14th.

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