Tea Party's Over
I am, to put it lightly, not a fan of the Tea Party people, and I am someone who believes that comics can maturely and productively address issues relevant to present current events. So you would think a story arc that deals with present day political issues and bashes the Tea Party crew would be right up my ally. But Brubaker's "Two Americas" story arc could not end quicker, as it has just been a horribly on-the-nose look at what would happen if the mentally deranged 1950s Cap joined up with a group that was so obviously a stand-in for the Tea Party, even without the protest signs that drew some controversy a few months ago. Metaphor and allegory are great tools that allow authors to address politically significant issues without immediately cluing the reader in to the political nature of the story, but it's not really a metaphor if your antagonist is just the Beverages Brewed From Leaves Party. Instead, this story was poorly executed and inconsistent in its portrayal of the stakes and the bad guys. Brubaker's biggest fault in this respect is that he didn't commit. If you really want to make the story political and take some shots at people, go for it. Or if you want to play fair and be impartial, you can do that in an interesting way as well (see Brian K. Vaughan's work on Ex Machina, which is occasionally a bit too delicate in the way it tries to play things down the middle but is largely effective). Instead, it felt like Brubaker just took some half-hearted pot shots before backing off and feigning ignorance ("I insulted who? You thought those people had something to do with the Tea Party? Whaaaa?"). If this arc had been about Tea Party folks who get in over their head with Crazy Cap but come to their senses when they realize the extent of his plans and help Bucky Cap, that would've worked. If this arc had been about truly crazy violent militia members who are straight up bad guys with no more than a slight passing relation to present protesters, that would've worked okay too. Instead, Brubaker was just kind of all over the place, and it did not serve the story.
However, this issue improved things slightly, because at least Brubaker finally stopped worrying about the Tea Party crowd, whether it was to antagonize them or make it up to them (that horribly stilted dialog last issue from the train conductor who "believes those folks in Washington have forgotten Main Street" made me gag), and just focused on the action and getting the fight resolved in a relatively satisfying way. We get to see Crazy Cap put down, Sam lending a hand, and Bucky Cap making a touch choice (though with somewhat oddly unclear results--why don't we get to see what really happened to Crazy Cap?). Good art, and a satisfying conclusion to a poorly conceived story.