It's the time-travelling dead hero mini that's actually good!
Until the end. . .then not so much.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: REBORN
A very nice start to this mini, which was intended to bring back the "real" Captain America after Brubaker went to all the trouble of re-introducing Bucky "Winter Soldier" Barnes back into Marvel continuity, "Killing" Captain America in a way that he couldn't be brought back, and making Bucky the new Captain America. I haven't read if bringing back Cap with some sort of convoluted explanation as to why he didn't just take a sniper shot and three more to the gut up close and just plain die in front of everyone. I have a feeling it WASN'T Brubaker's intent to bring Cap back, just because of the acrobatic hoop-jumping it took to 'splain things in this series.
That said. . .
If you've got orders to bring Captain America back from the dead, whatchu gonna do? You gonna get paid, that's what. And if anyone's going to do a decent job of it, it's going to be Brubaker. Thank God they didn't pass this off to someone else.
Like I said at the start, a very nice first issue, and that's thanks to Brubaker's writing and the fantastic, gritty, realistic art.
I like that Captain America is pretty much a secondary character in this. Most of the story revolves around other characters realizing that he's not really dead. . .and now what? I also liked the fact that they didn't just dump you into the story cold. . .this is definitely reliant on the reader knowing recent (as of 2009) Marvel continuity. There's a very nicely done 4 page refresher on the status quo (at the time) right up front, as well as little info bits written into the story itself. I like being able to come back and re-read something after 7 years and be reminded of where things are at. Sometimes it's the little things, right?
All in all, a great opener. Here's hoping the team can keep up the quality.
This series stays strong in the second issue, which splits more evenly between Captain America (Rogers) stuck in time and bouncing from moment to moment. He realizes he CAN change history, but being the hero he is, he also realizes he CAN'T, so he sucks it up and lives through painful memories. I really liked that moment where Captain America understands that he can, but he can't change time. It's some great writing from Brubaker and really shows the heroic nature of Captain America in such a short space. Very nicely done. The art remains dark, gritty, and realistic. It's not easy for an artist to make Falcon in his red jumpsuit look realistic and not silly. Again, nicely done.
2 issues in and still strong despite some super-science mumbo jumbo to try and 'splain how Captain America isn't dead, even though everyone saw him get shot.
"It's not a normal gun!" Yeah. . .like nobody noticed that over the YEAR that Cap was dead? Only superheroes notice these things.
There's no FBI in Marvel World?
ONE HOUR AFTER ASSASINATION OF CAPTAIN AMERICA
THE CAPITOL STEPS CRIME SCENE. . .
"Hey. . .agent Jones. You ever see a gun like this?"
*holds up plastic evidence baggie with weird ray gun in it*
Please. See, this is why I think Brubaker never intended Cap to come back.
Another strong issue in this series. The cast of characters has pretty much doubled since the first issue (seriously. . .look at the character list!), but Brubaker keeps a steady hand on the wheel. Still no signs of things going off the rails.
I really like the "time hopping" scenes in this series. They're pretty much flashbacks to key moments in the Captain America mythos. This time out most of them involve Cap's adventures with the Avengers during the Kree/Skrull war. I really liked the idea of him leaving a message with The Vision for the future. Also nicely done was the first few pages where Cap is trapped in ice, but fully aware of his situation, and he's beginning to fray around the edges from being forced back and forth through time again and again.
And once again, the art is very nicely done. Not everyone can make classic "Green Speedo Namor" look like a badass.
Here's something a bit confusing. . .
On the cover of this issue, it says 4 of 5 (the other issues have been "of 5" also), but on the next issue, it says 5 of 6. Did they just suddenly decide to throw on an extra issue? Was the 5th issue originally double-size and they split it into 2? What gives?
Anyway. . .
With what SEEMS to have originally been the lead-in to the final issue, I finally see some signs of weakness as Captain America is dragged back into "real time" JUST as he finally decides he's had enough and tries to change history at the moment that he lost Bucky over the English Channel.
The good news is that Cap is back. The bad news is that Red Skull is in his body.
The cliffhanger would have worked better if it was for the final issue. I still wonder what went on there. . .
All in all, the writing feels a bit rushed on this issue, even though the art remains extremely strong. Not the best issue, but still pretty damn good.
The original Solicit for this issue reads:
"Steve Rogers is back...or is he? This is the action-packed finale of the best-selling series as the Avengers. . ."
So this was originally supposed to be the finale of this series, and I can tell. . .as 90% of it is fighting. Unfortunately, the writing suffers because of it. The art is strong, but some pages seem very overcrowded and cluttered. Also, the three-way battle between BuckyCap and Red SkullCap in the real world and RealCap vs. Red SkullCap in the mind of Red Skull is a bit confusing. One thing I really did like is the fantastic panels of 1940's New York under the control of the Nazis. . .so detailed!
I'm not a huge fan of big superhero battles, so this issue didn't really do it for me. Like I said, it seems rushed and overcrowded.
Okay. . .now the REAL conclusion to this series. And unfortunately, it's not good.
More overcrowded superhero battles, this time featuring Red Skull in a giant robot body. It's like my worst comic book cliche nightmare right in front of me.
What started off so strong ended extremely weak. Did Marvel feel they just HAD to have 40 extra pages of fighting to make this thing good? I still don't understand the whole "extra issue" thing, but that extra issue sort of brought the whole series down to the lowest common comic book denominator of superbeings punching each other.
A damn shame. One thing I DID like about this issue is the revelation that Cap wasn't just flashing back to his past, but somehow also to the future, where he saw apocalyptic visions of New York completely destroyed in some sort of alien invasion and the Avengers defeated. . .possibly dead.
But beyond that, the ending of this series was a mess. I wonder about the justification for this series at all. It's pretty clear that (despite the good writing) Brubaker had to do some super-science backflips to figure out why and how to get a hero he pretty much killed in a "he ain't coming back" way back into regular continuity after he went to a lot of trouble to build up BuckyCap as a viable property for Marvel.
All in all. . .a strong start, a steady build, a disappointing ending. Captain America deserves better.
And there you have it. . .Marvel's Captain America: Reborn. A mini-series I believe was never meant to exist. All in all, not bad for what it is, and a hell of a lot better than DC's effort at the same game with a different name, Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne.
Why did this series win (for the most part) where DC's failed? I'd say it was because they pretty much made Captain America a supporting character until the end. They focused on the other characters trying to find him and let his time-hopping focus on showcasing great moments in his history and the choice he made to not make changes instead of trying to cram Captain America into stories where he didn't belong.
It was actually pretty good until the end and all the giant robot punching. I was pleasantly surprised, especially after forcing my way through the mess that was Return of Bruce Wayne. I would definitely suggest this series.
Coming next. . .
Remember when Image wanted SO bad to be Marvel? That's right. . .90's Image. Let's take a look at Image's version of The Punisher. Deathblow! The whole damn series. Be there or be square!
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Issue # 3