SPOILER WARNING: The following contains spoilers for "Captain America: Reborn" #1.
When Steve Rogers was murdered, the former Captain America's closest friends carried on by trying to live their lives in ways that would make Rogers proud. In the recent “Captain America” #600, those same friends learned that Steve Rogers was in fact alive, and in “Captain America: Reborn” #1 by writer Ed Brubaker and artists Bryan Hitch and Butch Guice, they began looking for him. But in order to find Rogers, his friends shouldn't be asking themselves, Where's Steve? Instead, they should ask themselves, When is Steve?
CBR News spoke with Marvel Comics editor Tom Brevoort about the revelations of “Reborn” #1 and what they mean for the story of Captain America.
“Reborn” #1 revealed that after the Red Skull and his agents arranged for Rogers’ assassination, they plotted to bring the former Captain America back in an experiment that involved the use of Doctor Doom's time platform as well as Sharon Carter, Rogers' former girlfriend, who they had abducted. When Carter realized what the experiment was for, she broke free and sabotaged it. This lead to Steve Rogers becoming unstuck in time; a phenomenon that has him undergoing a form of time travel that seems to be a blend of what has been seen on television shows like “Lost” and “Quantum Leap.”
Rogers' trips through time appear to be triggered by a flash of white light, after which he finds his consciousness transported into his own body in an event from his past. So far, readers have seen the former Cap relive the events of his mother's passing when he was a small child, charging the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, and fighting in Europe during World War II.
“There's a reason and a pattern behind what Steve is experiencing and how he's experiencing it,” Tom Brevoort told CBR News. “But figuring that mystery out is one of the through-lines of the series, so again, I can't reveal all that much at this early stage.”
Brevoort is aware that stories involving time travel and its mechanics can often leave even the sharpest readers scratching their heads, and has planned against that. “I believe that the time-travel element in 'Reborn' will be presented in such a straightforward manner that any layman will be able to understand it. It certainly won't involve any of the overcomplicated nonsense of the 'every time you travel in time, you create a parallel universe' approach which attempted to turn time-travel into something else entirely,” the editor explained. “But the most important aspects of that portion of the story are Steve's emotional reactions and observations about what he's going through. I know some will flay me alive for what I'm about to say, but I'm much more concerned that Steve's experiences are honest and affecting and relatable than I am that all of the time-travel logic follows certain established parameters.”
Steve Rogers' friends aren't the only ones looking for him in “Reborn,” a number of villains want to get their hands on the former Captain America as well. At the end of the issue #1, it was revealed that Norman Osborn, the Marvel Universe’s top superhuman law enforcer and head of a secret criminal Cabal, had allied himself with the Red Skull's former chief scientist, Arnim Zola. “Norman wants what Norman consistently wants--to secure and increase his power base in the world by bringing assorted forces and elements under his control,” Brevoort said. “So employing Zola is an extension of what he's doing with the Dark Avenger and the Hood's gang and Camp HAMMER and so forth. And Zola wants what Zola's always wanted -- the funds, resources and support to allow him to continue his explorations into the mysteries of genetics in pursuit of the ideal of a master race. Norman's the guy in charge now, the one who holds both the purse strings and the leash to the dogs of the authorities, and he seems to have a sympathetic ear, so why not cast his lot with him?”
What will Norman Osborn do with the time-lost Captain America if he gets a hold of him? Would Osborn simply kill Rogers? Or would the former Green Goblin try to corrupt Rogers as he has so many before? “I don't think that Norman is foolish enough to think that for one second he could pull the wool over Captain America's eyes, although he might be arrogant enough or sure of himself enough to try,” Brevoort remarked. “But the possibility that Steve Rogers may still be alive reveals the possibility of another key player on the map, one for whom Norman didn't plan and one who might stand a significant chance of being able to halt Norman's rise to power or topple him completely. So his interest is in getting his arms around the problem as quickly as he can, and before anybody else in a position to act on the information can do anything about it.”
Osborn isn't the only villain with a part to play in “Reborn.” Steve Rogers’ greatest nemesis, The Red Skull, has a huge role in the story. “Clearly, the Skull is an important element in this storyline, not simply because he's Steve's one great nemesis, but also because he was behind Steve's murder,” Brevoort stated.” So we'll be encountering him in the present as well as the past.”
Like the readers of “Reborn” #1, Brevoort has been nothing but pleased by the artwork Bryan Hitch and Butch Guice are producing for the series. “Bryan is once again doing career-defining work on this series, as he has previously on 'Ultimates' and ‘The Authority,' and pairing him with Ed, a writer he's never worked with before, is giving him a chance to stretch different muscles,” Brevoort said. “As is typically his wont, Bryan has the latitude to expand on the visuals in certain sequences to make them as large and grand and explosive as they can possibly be--you may be interested to learn that Ed wrote 'Reborn' #1 as a typical 22-page issue, and Bryan had the latitude to expand it visually to the 28 pages that saw print. This allows us to take advantage of Hitch's awesome storytelling skills and get the best out of him.
“And Butch, as always, is the iron man of the team, and the guy we can lean on if things get tight. Not only is he a phenomenal artist in his own right, but his embellishing of Bryan's pencils give them a whole added dimension and texture. And honestly, because Bryan never met a complicated background that he didn't like, when we hit a crunch time on the series, we all understand that Guice has the skills to carry the ball where necessary, allowing Bryan to go looser on a background or an environment in order to be able to get everything done on time with the confidence that the finished product will still look great.
“An added benefit, at least to me, is that Butch is one of the members of the family when it comes to 'Captain America' the last few years, so his contribution also provides a nice visual link to the style that series has been carrying on for the last four or five years. They're a dynamite combination, I think.”
Bryan Hitch produces consistently great artwork, but his work on “Ultimates” was frequently delayed. Tom Brevoort is aware of the fact and says he and everyone involved with “Reborn” are doing everything they can to make sure that future issues of “Reborn” ship on time. “I know everybody in the world is worried about things falling apart, but I 'd like to also point out that, after a slowdown right in the middle, 'Fantastic Four' is back on track and has shipped consistently on-time all year (in fact, we had two Hitch-illustrated issues on sale this past Wednesday, both 'Reborn' #1 and ‘FF’ #568 -- when was the last time something like that happened?) So we're past the personal crises that caused the problems with that run, and hopefully we won't run into anything similar. Given that we seem to be settling out at issues that are around 28 pages in length, I can't promise that we won't run out the clock and miss by a week at some point, but there shouldn't be delays of weeks or months on this series. There can't be -- it's too important to our overall publishing plans across the line, so we need 'Reborn' to come out when it's supposed to.”