For the past 5 years there has been no more consistently well written series than Ed Brubaker’s Captain America. Brubaker has just been money on Captain America and his transition into making Bucky Barnes the new Captain America after Steve Rogers death has been picture perfect. For that reason we here at the Revolution were surprised at the sub-par effort Brubaker put in with Captain America: Reborn #1.
With the amount of hype that went into this series we expected much more from Brubaker in the first issue of the return of Steve Rogers. Hopefully, Brubaker can bounce back with Captain America: Reborn #2. Now let’s get on with the review.
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artists: Bryan Hitch
Inker: Butch Guice
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Story: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: The issue begins with Steve Rogers as Captain America in the middle of a battle using his shield to deflect bullets as he runs towards the Nazi army firing at him. As Steve does so he is thinking about how he remembers how this whole battle with the Hitler’s army. Steve also remembers that the battle he currently is fighting is battle to stop demonic forces from aiding the Nazi forces. Steve thinks how he stops the Nazi army from releasing the demonic force though at the cost of many of the soldiers he is currently fighting alongside of at the moment.
As Steve thinks about reliving his past he starts to brawl with Master Man. As he fights Master Man, Steve thinks to himself that everything going on feels too real to be an illusion caused by the Red Skull or Doctor Faustus. Steve knocks out Master Man by slamming him on top of a car.
Steve thinks he needs Tony Stark or Reed Richards help to figure things out. But as he tries think more about the situation a sudden flash of light appears. Captain America screams out “Damn it!” as the light consumes him.
Steve then sees that he has timed jumped (Quantum Leaps?) yet again into the Oval Office where the President asks Captain America if he is okay as he has never heard Cap cuss before. Steve tells the President he is fine. The President says he is glad to hear that and they both walk out of the office into an awaiting press. Steve thinks to himself that he needs a scientist to explain what is happening to him to help return back to his own time.
We cut to within the HAMMER helicarrier were Captain America (Bucky) and Black Widow are fighting a bunch of HAMMER agents and Ares and Venom. Bucky starts fighting Ares and thinks to himself that while he likes fighting unbeatable odds this time he might be over his head.
Bucky dodges one of Ares axe slashes and throws his shield at a bunch of HAMMER agents, knocking them out. Bucky asks himself how this fight will get them closer to finding Steve, if it is possible. Ares swings his axe at Bucky yet again but Bucky is able to block the strike with his shield while Natasha continues to shot Venom.
Natasha tells Bucky to go grab the car and leave while she holds off Ares, Venom, and the HAMMER agents. Bucky says he is not leaving. Natasha says Bucky must leave because Osborn is blocking their communication signals and that the others need to know Osborn has the device. Bucky tells her that they will tell the others together.
Natasha shoots Ares which does not affect the God of War. At the same time, Venom is able to nail Captain America with a kick to the jaw that sends him flying. Venom grabs and knocks out Natasha. He then grabs Captain America, who was distracted by Ares, and Ares knocks him out with a punch to the head. Ares says that Osborn wants Cap and Natasha alive.
We cut to The Baxter Building where Reed Richards and Hank Pym are running some test on Sharon Carter. Sharon asks Hank if he’s heard from Sam (Falcon) yet. Hank tells her that he has not heard anything yet. Reed tells Sharon to stop moving as the scan has to be precise.
Reed asks Hank what Falcon is doing to which Hank says he already told Reed. Reed says he was over multi-tasking at the time and that Hank should be lucky he was allowed in his lab (Damn, now that is a burn.)
Hank tells Reed that Falcon and Vision are on a recon mission to find Captain America and Black Widow because they went silent last night trying to recover Doom’s device.
Reed says that wasn’t it and that Hank mentioned that Zola referred to Sharon as the “Constant.” Hank says Reed is correct. Reed then says there is something in Sharon’s bloodstream that he can’t lock onto but looks familiar.
Reed than remembers that Tony Stark sent him Steve Rogers’ autopsy file.
Hank asks why he waited now to mention this. Reed tells Hank that there was something about the rapid cellular decay that Tony did not like. Reed then asks Hank to tell him about Falcon’s recon mission again.
We cut a room were Norman is offering Crossbones and Sin a mission that he feels only the two of them can do. Crossbones tells Norman they do not work for traitors but Sin tells Crossbones to let Norman talk.
Norman says Sin is right because he holds the only key out of the room that isn’t a bullet to the head though he doesn’t think that Captain America’s murderer expects anything less. Crossbones asks if he fell asleep through his trial to which Norman reacts by saying “Trial…Now who’s the comedian?”
Norman goes on to explain that the two of them are enemy combatants who committed a terrorist act on domestic soil and no one ever said they would get a trial. Norman continues to say that now he that he took his position he has learned more about Captain America’s assassination from Dr. Zola that makes the two of them more useful.
Sin asks how does that work. Norman replies by saying that a reborn Captain America under his control is a great asset to him even if it is Red Skull’s mind in Captain America’s body. He then takes out Crossbones’ mask and asks “Now, do we have a deal?”
The scene shifts to 1940 were Steve has leap into the time were the man who made him Captain America, Dr. Erskine, is running the final test before he became Captain America. Steve thinks to himself if he is controlling all of these shifts to times in his life. Steve asks the doctor about time travel and if someone were to go back in time and killed Hitler before the war started what would happen.
Dr. Erskine explains to Steve that doing that would alter the future and in this altered future they might not even exist. He tells Steve that if he really wants to have a conversation about the subject he will introduce Steve to his friend Albert. Steve asks if he means Albert Einstein which the professor replies by saying yes.
Steve and Dr. Erskine into the room were Steve will go under the transformation into being Captain America. As Steve drinks the Super-Soldier Serum and is bathed in the rays transforming into Captain America he thinks about what Dr. Erskine said. He thinks how he can do nothing but let everything play out the same way it did before and allow Heinz Kruger, a Nazi Spy, watch his transformation and strike.
As soon as Steve completes his transformation Heinz shots Dr. Erskine from the viewing platform. Steve attacks and kills Heinz by throwing him at the machine that transformed him. He then picks up Dr. Erskine’s body while being ask by his superior if he is okay. Steve says he is but thinks to himself how this is all torture and asking himself why he is there.
Back in the present at the HAMMER Helicarrier Norman is in his office having a conversation with Bucky and Natasha, whose arms are in shackles, about how they must be wondering why they are there. Bucky says he thinks Norman wants his autograph and he will give it to Norman if he takes of his shackles. (I guess Bucky has taken the Spider-Man 101: Quipping with Foes class while being part of the New Avengers.)
Norman tells Bucky he has always wanted to meet him but he thought he was dead the whole time but says they all die once or twice. Natasha tells Norman just to tell them want he wants and put them in their cells. Norman tells them he does not want anything from them and all he wanted was to show them something. He then shows them a news report about a HAMMER agent releasing information that Steve’s real killer was Sharon Carter and that she has now on the nation’s most wanted list.
Bucky calls Norman an SOB and says Sharon was an innocent victim. Norman retorts by saying no one is innocent. He continues by saying that he is going to release Natasha so she can deliver a message for him. Natasha says she won’t be doing anything for him. Norman tells her that she will deliver the message to Sharon and tell her she has 24 hours to turn herself in or she will have more than the fate of one Captain America on her conscience. End of issue.
The Good: Captain America: Reborn #2 was another average issue that does not deliver on the high expectations I have for this mini-series. Still there are a few positive things that I liked about this issue.
As always, Brubaker continues deliver solid character work for everyone involved in this mini-series. With how many characters Brubaker is handling in this mini-series both past and present he does a great job giving each character their own distinct voices.
And even though Brubaker has mostly ignored most of what has been going on in the Marvel Universe with the current Dark Reign storyline in all of his work until now. He did a great job nailing how each character involved have been acting since Norman and the villains have taken over.
Probably Brubaker’s best writing in this issue, and the series so far, has been with his portrayal of Norman Osborn. Brubaker really writes a great Norman as he shows he is a very powerful and dangerous person.
Even though the Red Skull is the main villain of series the involvement of Norman into the story makes the return of Steve Rogers even more difficult. I also found it interesting that Norman cut a deal with Crossbones and Sin. Knowing Osborn he probably will have the two of them follow Natasha in order to ensure he captures Sharon.
I also continue to enjoy how Brubaker continues to write the relationship between Bucky and Natasha. Brubaker knows how to write these characters and the two have become one of my favorite couples in comics. While they were fighting a losing battle against Ares and Venom it was good seeing that they were able to hold their own against the two and work well as a team.
I liked the scene at the Baxter Building with Reed, Hank, and Sharon. The conversation between Reed and Hank was great as we saw both characters ego at work during the scene. While the conversation between the two sounded like the two of them had some sort of animosity towards one another I thought it work well as the two are considered among the greatest minds in the Marvel Universe.
It is unsurprising that Reed and Hank wouldn’t act to friendly with one another as they both have big egos because they each consider themselves the smartest among all the geniuses. And I am interested to see what the two of them find in Steve’s autopsy report.
The strength of this issue was the artwork of Bryan Hitch and Butch Guice. Hitch does a great job giving this issue a big event feel as he draws some great action scenes along with doing a great job with all of the characters facial expressions. It gives many of the scenes a lot of emotional weight as Bucky and the rest of Captain America’s supporting cast do their best to figure out if they can really bring back Steve.
The Bad: For the second straight issue Brubaker disappoints me in how he is writing Steve’s supposed return in Captain America: Reborn. With how strong his work on Captain America has been since he relaunched the series I have had high expectations for all of Brubaker’s work especially when it comes to Captain America.
Like the last issue this issue felt like Brubaker was trying too hard to make this issue reader friendly by spending half the issue on Steve’s time in the past. While I didn’t mind that in the last issue I found the amount of time spent on Steve struggling with the fact that he is stuck in the past made the issue feel slow and boring at times.
I think this issue would have been much better if some of the pages used on Steve’s adventures in the past would have been given to Red Skull, since he did not appear in the issue at all, to give more insight on his plans instead of just hearing about them from other characters that don’t know the Red Skull.
And while Brubaker did explain Red Skull’s plan all along was to be able to put his mind in Steve’s body I still don’t understand how this plan is much better than just having him responsible for Steve’s death. This concept is just an out of character move with how Brubaker has been portraying Red Skull throughout his run on Captain America.
Red Skull’s plan is just way to convoluted that is filled with so many unnecessary risks that someone like Red Skull would take. It would be much easier for him to kill Steve out right and be done with it and not take the risk your plan is a failure.
By rewriting the fact that Red Skull is the one responsible for Steve Rogers death it takes away what has made him different and special within comics. Unlike some of the biggest comic book villains in either Marvel or DC like Lex Luthor or Dr. Doom the Red Skull was actually successful in eliminating his greatest adversary by killing him. And since this series is being advertised as Steve Rogers big return it seems that Red Skull’s plan is only going to end in failure meaning he will only come off as your typical villain who always loses at the end of the story.
My biggest problem with these two issues is that Brubaker is deviating too much from the grounded and realistic feel of Captain America that has made the series such a great comic book month in month out. Now, before I continue I have to admit that unlike Rokk and many followers of The Revolution I have never watched Lost so I can’t really compare the time travel going on in this series to Lost. But the series I can compare it to is another sci-fi series: Quantum Leap.
Much of what Steve is going through feels similar to what Scott Bakula’s character Dr. Sam Beckett went through in that series, except that Steve jumps to various points in his life and actually recalls all of his memories from the past. While reading these two issues I can’t help but think of that series and how Brubaker is just being unoriginal with the time jumps happening at random times. With how Steve continues to question if he or someone else is controlling his time jumps I get the feeling that somehow Steve will be able to control his time jumps before he returns.
Giving this mini-series a sci-fi feel takes away too much of what has made Captain America such a great series which was a more grounded and realistic take on the character. It makes the story of Steve’s return feel forced in order to return and re-establish Steve as Captain America before his film comes out in a few years. I know that Brubaker has said that this was the plan all along but it just doesn’t feel like the idea wasn’t fully planned out and they just went with what was easy by explaining that Steve isn’t really dead but just stuck in time.
Also I did not find the hook ending of this issue to be very interesting as it felt very predictable. Norman’s threat felt way to much like a cliché ending that you get from a TV show or movie. Hopefully Brubaker has something in store for the next issue to pick things up in this mini-series because this ending did not excite me too much for the next issue.
Overall: Captain America: Reborn #2 was another very average issue that disappoints because it is just not the same type of quality I expect from an Ed Brubaker penned Captain America issue. So far, Brubaker has been writing this more for the eventual trade paperback than for a monthly series. While I still have faith Brubaker can pick things up with the last three issues I recommend that if you are interested in picking up this series wait for the trade as.