Writer: Ed Brubaker
Pencils: Bryan Hitch
Inks: Butch Guice
Colors: Paul Mounts
Letters: Virtual Calligraphy
Cover artists: Hitch & Guice/John Cassaday/Alex Ross/Joe Quesada & Danny Miki
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99 US
I was looking for something topical to write about for the site for July 4, and this week’s release of this title (combined with the delay of a few days’ vacation) provided just the sort of subject matter for a review on U.S. Independence Day. Of course, the readers should really pay no attention to the title of this series or even the issue number. In reality, this is Captain America #601 (or #52, or whatever number scheme associated with the most recent incarnation of the regular Captain America title you prefer), as writer Ed Brubaker is simply continuing the story that he began with Captain America #1 in 2005. The plot feels natural and logical, so for regular Cap readers, it’ll prove satisfying in that regard. However, the nature of the story — the miraculous resurrection of a fallen super-hero — requires Brubaker to stray from espionage genre that was so much a part of the creative success of his run on Cap and to embrace cliches of the super-hero genre that don’t seem to merit the hullabaloo that Marvel’s making of this event.
The new Captain America and the Black Widow infiltrate the H.A.M.M.E.R. Heli-Carrier to find a final missing clue as to the true fate of Steve Rogers, the original Captain America. His closest friends have come to believe that while he did in fact die from gunshot wounds on the steps of a New York courthouse, he may nevertheless be alive. The potential for his miraculous return may actually be the result of stalled plans initiated by the Red Skull and Nazi scientist Arnim Zola. Unfortunately, the heroes may not be the only ones to have come to this realization.
It’s fitting that this issue opens and closes with scenes set in World War II, as we’re reminded of Bryan Hitch’s work on The Ultimates, which also features scenes of Cap in war-time action. He certainly captures the military gear of the period quite well. His photorealistic style is always a pleasure, but I don’t know if it’s such a good fit for this material. Since the plot has taken on more of a conventional super-hero tone, the maturity of Hitch’s style might not be what’s needed for this story.
I was pleased that regular Cap artist Butch Guice provides inks for Hitch’s pencilled art, as it brings some consistency to the ongoing visual narrative of Captain America’s corner of the Marvel Universe. I must also commend Alex Ross for his 50/50 variant cover, as it both incorporates an aspect of the plot while also avoiding any spoilers. The negative space also makes that particular cover more striking when lined up with many others on comic-shop shelves.
As I said before, there’s some satisfaction to be had here if you’ve been following Brubaker’s Cap for some time. All of the same familiar characters remain involved in the drama, and the heroes’ break-in is fun and well-choreographed. I also appreciated the emotional moments incorporated into the closing scenes as the focus of the plot enters the drama as well.
Unfortunately, there are more elements that didn’t work for me. Political intrigue and an assassination plot give way to a super-hero time-travel story? It seems to fly in the face of what made this larger story interesting in the first place. Mind you, I can see it as a necessary evil; this is, after all, about a dead man coming back from the grave. It just seems like such a let-down after everything that’s led us to this point. Furthermore, while other events in the Marvel Universe occasionally had some impact on Brubaker’s Cap, one of the reasons it was such a strong series was that it was, for the most part, its own self-contained story. Reborn, on the other hand, incorporates a lot of recent Marvel continuity into the plotting. The events of Secret Invasion and “Dark Reign” factor in heavily here, and for those readers unfamiliar with those other Marvel plots, it could make for some confusing moments. 5/10
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