We all know the ‘controversy’ surrounding “Captain America: Reborn,” so I’ll skip over that and get right to the issue, itself: it reads like issue #601 of “Captain America,” which is a good and bad thing. Considering that that book is consistently one of Marvel’s best books each month, the quality here is obviously high, but it does beg the question of why not simply tell this story in the pages of “Captain America.”
Obviously, the return of Steve Rogers is a big event, but his death happened in his title, and his return is part of the overall years-long plot in that title, so spinning it off to its own mini-series seems an odd choice. There’s a danger in thinking that Marvel is trying to trick readers to jump on board in the middle of a story. That doesn’t seem to be the case since Ed Brubaker does an outstanding job of bringing readers up to speed by introducing characters unaware of what’s been going on with Captain America.
The dialogue that narrates the opening of the issue is the perfect primer for new readers as it gives the essential plot points to get you up to speed, while a scene where the Falcon and Sharon Carter enlist the help of Hank Pym reveals other pertinent details. Brubaker’s dialogue rarely seems forced in these revelations and adds enough new events or perspectives to keep those already in the know entertained. It’s a hard trick to pull off, Brubaker does it well.
While much of this issue is set-up, introducing the main characters and revealing how Rogers will return, plans to bring back Rogers are already in motion as the new Captain America and Black Widow break into H.A.M.M.E.R.’s Helicarrier to obtain various objects confiscated from the Red Skull’s destroyed base. The means by which Rogers will return are both unexpected and unsurprising, all of the clues laid out previously by Brubaker, creating the best denouement: one that catches the reader off guard, but also makes total sense.
The one area in which “Reborn” differs from “Captain America” differs is the art. “Captain America” has had remarkably consistent art over its four years under Brubaker thanks to concerted efforts to make it so consistent each month with artists drawing in a style similar to Steve Epting and colorist Frank D’Armata working hard to keep things in line. With Bryan Hitch penciling “Reborn” and Paul Mounts coloring, the look is different, although not as much as you would think with one of the regular “Captain America” artists, Butch Guice, inking/finishing Hitch’s art and Mounts clearly using D’Armata’s color palette as a guide. The art here looks like a blend of Hitch’s usual work and the ‘house style’ on “Captain America,” which is a very happy medium and sure to please new and old readers.
Beyond that, Hitch’s art here relies more heavily on inks as he goes from the bright and fun “Fantastic Four” to this darker perspective, working in the shadows far more. And it suits him well. Since he’s drawing Captain America, there are shades of his “Ultimates” work here as well. It’s some of Hitch’s strongest work in a while and he looks like the perfect man for the job.
“Reborn” easily could have turned off new readers since it stems so heavily from the pages of “Captain America” and the four-year story Ed Brubaker has been telling there, but everything you need to know is here in this first issue -- and it’s a good one!