Review by Frank Plowright
Up until midway through No Escape, there were only a handful of people aware that between his supposed death in 1945 and miraculous 21st century reappearance Bucky Barnes had been a brainwashed Soviet assassin. The innate marksmanship and survival training so ingrained served the Soviets as well as they had the USA, and that’s now public knowledge, resulting in media-fueled public opinion demanding a trial.
After treading water for a couple of stories, writer Ed Brubaker again delivered a plot affording a 360 degree perspective, involving a large cast, and that’s where he works at his peak. With a trial imminent there are witnesses to be gathered, some less reluctantly than others, Barnes coping with jail and the Red Skull’s daughter freed by the right-wing zealot Master Man.
Brubaker provides a compelling role for Bernie Rosenthal from the 1980s Captain America run, now a fully qualified and effective trial lawyer, and returns Dr Faustus. There’s a fine scene where he’s confronted by Steve Rogers over his part in making it seem as if Captain America had died, and a diversion into the new Red Skull’s dreams.
For his part Butch Guice delivers the consistent and well-considered storytelling that brings the tale home, but the first chapter is by Daniel Acuña in his distinctive computer-rendered, outline free style. He’s usually welcome, but Guice, and before him Epting adopting the same approach, have so characterised Captain America for such an extended period that he’s out of place.
There is a problem towards the end as Brubaker toys with a right wing grand gesture involving some iconographic American architecture for the second time in three volumes. That, though is played out against a genuinely tense courtroom drama, raising it above the use in Two Americas. Anyone who claims to see the conclusion coming is lying, and that’s always an indication of good writing.
A coda plays with the identity of Captain America in an interesting fashion, asking just how much it’s part of the public domain. Interestingly drawn in a timeless style by Mitch Breitweiser, and with a decent twist, it’s a welcome bonus. The next volume is Prisoner of War.