Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Captain America Reborn #1 – A Review

Captain America Reborn #1 (of 5)

Publisher Marvel Comics

Writer Ed Brubaker

Art Bryan Hitch and Butch Guice

Colors Paul Mounts

This book was pretty much a disappointment. The story was incomprehensible and essentially this was Captain America #601.
Marvel seems to have a new program going on where they cancel a title and then launch a mini-series that is in reality the continuation of the title. Now the title was selling for $2.99 and the mini-series is selling for $3.99. Marvel at least has added eight extra pages in this book so 30 pages for $4 is okay as it is essentially the same price per page of 22 pages for $3 and in fact it is a little bit of a bargain. Now I have been around long enough to know that this is a prelude to reducing the page count page down to 22 over time, but for now it is a fair deal. Now I could go into how easy it is to just do some big pin-up pages to pad out the book, but you are still getting 30 pages of art, regardless of whether the writer is working more or not.

The problem is this should still just be the Captain America series. This is a direct continuation of what has been going on with Bucky Cap and Sharon in the regular book. I keep pointing to DC’s sales skyrocketing with the Loeb/Lee Batman story arc. There is no need to create havoc with retailers and casual fans alike. If the talent is there and especially a well known hot artists is on the book it will sell. The spin out of the mini-series is totally unnecessary.

As for my review of the actual story, Brubaker can do better then this. It was in a Joe Quesada interview where he said Ed had three of four ideas of how to bring Steve Rogers back and if the beginning of this arc is a clue as to what he is doing it, then I want to see the other ideas.

We start with a flashback to Steve as Captain America leading soldiers on D-Day. Now slightly disturbing is the fact that this looks a hell of lot like the Ultimate Captain America and not our Captain America. Seeing as how they are advertising Mark Millar’s new Ultimate Avengers book and that Cap is on the cover, I will assume this is just Hitch drawing Captain America the way he knows how to draw him.

From there the story is what has become typical comic book story telling method (and a convention that is over used and therefore boring). We have three or four storylines going on and we got two pages of each story line as we jump from story to story. The four stories are Bucky Cap and Natasha (by the way called Natasha again as opposed to Natalia) searching for equipment that was used by the Red Skrull on Sharon. Sharon is re-telling (for the umpteenth time) how she shot Steve, but now we know it was with an odd gun. Sharon and the Falcon have gone to the Mighty Avengers for help with a time machine. Norman Osborn is conversing with Zola about what is really going on with Captain (Steve Rogers) America. The final storyline is Steve is unstuck in time and he is jumping into his life throughout time, sort of a Quantum Leap thing, but he is always in his body.

The crux of the story is Sharon, when a captive, saw that the Red Skull was trying to bring Steve Rogers back via a time machine. She screwed up the whole process and now this is giving everyone the thought that they can bring Steve back.

Now the incomprehensibility of this unbelievable and convoluted explanation is brought home when Norman and Zola are conversing.

Norman “So let me get this straight Zola you’re saying Doom’s device froze Captain America in time?”
Zola “No. It locked hit body in time and space and with both the platform and the constant, we were able to pluck him right out of the timestream…where he lay dormant. But the woman damaged the machine during the process.”

Norman “So… Captain America, the real Captain America isn’t dead?”

Zola “He was and he wasn’t.”

Okay let me stop here for a minute. They have plucked Cap out of time. This means that if this is the way he returns we have a Cap who is Steve Rogers, without all of Steve’s experiences and then in order for us to have Cap’s history mean anything some time in the future he has to be put back into the past and have his memory of what he has done wiped out. Right? - back to Zola.

Zola: “How many times do I have to explain it, Osborn?”

Another interruption – how about until it makes any f**king sense at all.

Zola “I thought you were a scientist.”

Norman “I am, Zola and now I’m a scientist who’s wondering if Roger’s body disappeared during the transfer where exactly did he go?”

And that is how Steve become the new star of Quantum Leap as he jumps from time to time but always remaining in his body.

I only hope the end resolution of bring Steve back is better. The “gun” Sharon used has not been explained at all and we have the odd Bucky from the Heroes Reborn world running around. It would make more sense that Steve's body had just gone into a dormant state and the super soldier formula took awhile to bring him back to life. Maybe he has been in hiding and recuperating as he was building a plan to take down the Dark Reign. Instead I think it is going to be some super convoluted time travel claptrap that will make no sense whatsoever.

Finally let’s get into the artwork on this book. Bryan Hitch is a good artist and is in the Neal Adams School of photorealism mixed with Kirby dynamics. In fact there were a few nice panels of people starting at Hank Pym as he is wasp size that reminded me of the classic Kree-Skrull Avengers issue when Ant-Man saved the Vision. The overly dark palette though muted any strength of the art work and while good it was not extraordinary.
Overall Grade C – Being reborn is tough and both DC’s effort with Flash and now Marvel’s with Captain America are paced too slow and are bogged down in super complex plotlines. This plot line and way to bring Cap back is not only complex and convoluted, but at this point is makes no sense.


  1. I haven't read much Marvel main continuity in awhile. Are you being consistent in a typo when you write Red Skrull or did the Red Skull get turned into a Skrull at some point?

  2. Typo - Still suffering from Skrull overload.

  3. I think you rated it too high. D+ or C-. I'm glad you explained the Quantum Leap thing, because I certainly didn't know what was going on...How does that explain his new uniform...

  4. Matt - I think the uniform is the only way Hitch knows how to draw it as he looked a lot like the Ultimate Cap.

  5. Wow you really summed up the whole thing pretty well. I really didn't like #600, and now I'm not into #601. I really like Capt. America, WTF are they doing with the "reborn" stuff? They take iconic characters and can't do them justice in the end. Too bad, I wanted to like it more :(

  6. variant girl - I agree I wanted to like this book more also. By the way you have an great comic review site.

  7. I dropped the book. I may get sucked back in, but like you've said before -- suspending the on-going for a mini makes it easy to jump OFF!

    Hitch does draw the regular Cap uniform on one of the covers, so he can do it. I'm just worried about the revisionist history they could be doing.

    Actually, while Hitch is a good artist, his style just didn't work as well as Epting (and company). The Prelude was much more in keeping with the tone of the regular series and the Marvels Project looks to be more interesting.