When Stevie Was Dead: Part V: Villains Divided, Heroes United
The epic (seriously, this cumulative package was like 140 images) reposting of "The Death of Captain America" concludes. See how it all shook down.
When we last left off, Sharon was kidnapped, but now more or less free of her programming, Bucky and Sam were on the case, and the Skull and co. were readying their own Captain America and their Manchurian Candidate:
This is Roberto de la Torre on art here; his is the weakest contribution, but it's still pretty good.
The Skull's thugs attempt to kill Senator Wright, and 50s Cap intervenes, saving the day.
Bucky and Sam decide to investigate the next rally.
Meanwhile, at Evil HQ:
However, Sharon's been working on her restraints, and when the timing is right...
Meanwhile, Bucky appears at Wright's next rally. Cap doesn't show, but Bucky continues looking around, when suddenly somebody punches him through a wall.
Next issue (and these last three issues become increasingly difficult to split up for scanning, even with 7; the last one was damn near impossible), Cap fights Cap while Sharon and Sin make their way out of the facility.
Guards show up, but Sin tells them to back off, and she fights Sharon herself.
Bucky dukes it out with 50s Cap, who is understandably pissed, since he's been told Bucky killed Jack. Finally, Bucky decides to counter the psychological programming done to him.
Sam catches Bucky (making this the third time Bucky has been thrown off a high place and been caught in midair in this arc), and 50s Cap vanishes. The Red Skull and his allies bitch each other out.
Also: great parenting, Johann.
Anyway, next issue, the bad guys are stilling prepping Zola's device for use. Dr. Faustus pays Sharon a visit.
Quite a few readers missed this, but the implication here is quite clear: Sharon stabbed herself, to keep the Cap-us out of the Skull's hands. Makes sense, based on the scene last issue: the location of the stab wound (when Sin didn't know she was pregnant), and, even if Sharon managed to stab Sin instead, she'd still have been tackled by all the other guards. Hardcore, Sharon.
Bucky and Sam have at last determined where the Skull is headquartered, by tracing the AIM team that recovered 50s Cap (who was attempting to escape the Skull's men). They're intercepted by Natasha and some SHIELD guys, who have news.
The first presidential candidates' debate is in Albany that night.
"...the man on your left will fall."
Sin's in the audience in disguise, with orders to assassinate one of the rivals; the Skull needles Sin once again not to mess up again.
As this is going down, Black Widow and Falcon bust into the Skull's HQ, and start shooting the place up. Skull and Zola take Sharon to the machine anyway.
These are the consequences of bad parenting.
The second big hero shot of this run. Love it.
I said earlier that these last few issues were really difficult to pick scans from, and especially so from the final issue.
Prioritizing the big payoffs, here's a summary of the leadup:
Sharon, since she is now in control of herself, breaks loose from her restraints and destroys Zola's machine, foiling the Skull's plan to get a new body (the exact mechanics haven't been explained yet). The Skull and Zola attempt to flee, leaving Sharon lying behind. Elsewhere, 50s Cap also breaks loose.
Natasha and Sam arrives shortly after, finding Sharon unconscious and 50s Cap gone. Sam assures Sharon that 'the good guys won."
There's a certain brilliance in Lukin finally being free from the Skull's mind, only to die seconds after; all the same, I was a bit disappointed, because I think Lukin would have made a good permanent addition to the Captain America rogues gallery. But with a story this long, one of the main villains had to die for some payoff, and he's the only one Brubaker created himself.
Elsewhere, Bucky beats up Sin's associates, and tracks her to the roof. Panicking and trying to redeem herself for Pops, she aims a rocket-launcher at the limo carrying the presidential candidates. Bucky leaps...
And so the story ends, more or less. Bucky is now a megastar in the superhero world; and he and Natasha hook up. Sam and Tony decide to tell Sharon about the pregnancy later, once she'd had a bit of time to recover. 50s Cap wanders the streets of Manhattan, trying to decide what to make of this new world. Sin and Crossbones are in jail. Lukin is dead. Dr. Faustus is MIA for now, and without his cool beard. As for the Skull and Zola?
And so they all lived happily ever after. Except for Steve, who's still dead.