Review by Frank Plowright
Since the events of the previous volume Captain America has been experiencing disturbing dreams in which the serum that transformed him into the superb athlete and reaction-based combatant he is ceases to function. In these nightmares he reverts back to the skinny weakling he was in the 1940s before volunteering for the Captain America process. In superhero comics this is all too often the precursor for dreams becoming reality, and writer Ed Brubaker doesn’t swerve the cliché. It’s uncharacteristically uninspired plotting, with the dreaming not adequately explained later.
The rather mundane opening material diminishes the overall quality, but the story picks up the pace around halfway through, although the art team of Alan Davis and Mark Farmer deliver their usual consummate professional polish from the off. Brubaker throws in the Serpent Squad, Hydra Agents, Mad Bombs (not seen since Jack Kirby’s Captain America), Hawkeye, the Falcon and Tony Stark. Baron Zemo, Queen Hydra and Bravo play a part, but their purpose is more concerned with setting up later developments, so it’s Sharon Carter that has the pivotal role here.
Given much of what she’s been dragged through since Brubaker began writing Captain America it can be forgotten that not only is she Captain America’s comfort and joy, but also highly trained and adaptable S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. She’s the person who solves the mystery of Captain America’s reversion, and does so in the most nail biting sequence of the book, faced with an implacable and extremely powerful enemy. Even better, is the way that enemy is dealt with, a surprise Brubaker saves for a very well worked conclusion. It’s a shame the remainder didn’t match this.