When Captain America died in “Captain America” #25, the world may have taken notice, but every true comic fan knew that it was only a matter of time before Steve Rogers returned from the dead. After all, no one stays dead in comics except for Bucky Barnes, or at least that’s how the saying used to go. But since Ed Brubaker brought back Bucky already, even that rule is no longer valid. Now the rule seems to be: no one stays dead in comics. Period.
So here we are, with “Reborn” #1, and the not-really-all-that-long-awaited return of Steve Rogers. Is it a spoiler to say that Steve Rogers is, in fact, not dead? Well, he’s not. Sorry if I spoiled that for you. Of course, he hasn’t really been dead even when he was “dead.” Just a couple of weeks ago, he was chillin’ out with the New Avengers in the pages of “Avengers/Invaders” #12, a time-tossed hero in an adventure through spacetime.
But when fans talk about the return of Steve Rogers, they’re talking about the return of the 21st century version. A time-tossed hero just doesn’t cut it. It’s not the real deal.
Interestingly, Brubaker turns that notion on its head. This, I won’t spoil. I won’t tell you the precise mechanism around which Brubaker spins the return of Steve Rogers, but it’s both clever and unsurprising at the same time. Some readers — particularly ones well-versed in recent DC events — will find the superficial details of Roger’s return to be very familiar. There’s nothing about the return of Steve Rogers that hasn’t been established by Brubaker since the day of the character’s death. Brubaker has cleverly woven bits of uncertainty and elliptical clues throughout the past 25+ issues, particularly surroundings Sharon Carter. What did she actually do on that fateful day of Cap’s death? And what did she see when she was held captive by the Red Skull? These questions have been raised in previous issues, and they’re answered here.
And no, the cosmic cube isn’t involved. At least not yet.
One of the nice things about this comic is that it fits so well into the larger tapestry Brubaker’s been weaving since he reinvigorated the Captain America universe all those years ago. Bryan Hitch does his own version of the Cap house style, with plenty of help from Butch Guice, and though the WWII scenes show a Captain America who looks far more like the Ultimate version than the Marvel Universe standard, the art is consistent with what’s come before. Even colorist Paul Mounts does a version of Frank D’Armata’s cinematic coloring scheme. It’s not a coloring approach I particularly like, but it’s effective at keeping a constant visual tone from one “Captain America” issue to another (and from the main series to this spin-off).
There’s nothing in “Reborn” that demands its own series — this could easily have been the story arc for “Captain America” issues #601-605 — but I don’t fault Marvel for wanting to make an event out of this story. Brubaker has been producing one of the best serialized superhero comics in Marvel history since he began working on “Captain America” and if anything deserves the hype an event book normally receives, it’s the work of Ed Brubaker.
“Reborn” may be just the next chapter in the ongoing Brubaker/Cap super-saga, but like the other installments of the over-arching story, it’s a good one.