Though the pacing has been slow during “Reborn” so far, things pick up in this issue as various elements set up during the course of the series begin to pay off. The question being who will figure out how to bring Steve Rogers back first: Reed Richards and Hank Pym or Dr. Doom and the Red Skull? With H.A.M.M.E.R. in possession of Sharon Carter, it looks like the bad guys have the edge coming into this issue.
With Steve Rogers still adrift in time, reliving his past, Brubaker takes the chance to use the past events in this issue to highlight his relationship with James ‘Bucky’ Barnes, hopefully laying the groundwork for their eventual reunion. First, a moment from his life where Rick Jones was Bucky and, then, one of the defining moments of both Steve and James’s life: the attempt to stop Baron Zemo’s plane that seemingly killed James and sent Steve into suspended animation. This moment in Steve’s life packs a punch since it’s been built up to over the previous three issues as he’s relived other moments and this one is arguably the worst one of his life. There’s a tension as we wonder if he’ll make the effort to try and change the past — and, if he did, who would blame him?
While events do progress here, a lot of the issue is emotionally cold as characters’ actions work to further the plot and move from one point to the next. Brubaker writes these scenes as well as possible, but there’s only so much you can get out of a scene where Doom, the Red Skull, and their various flunkies prepare a machine for use. However, the end of the issue does give a great pay off that makes issue five a must read.
For a long time, people have complained about the arbitrary nature of 22-page issues and Bryan Hitch’s visual style is a great argument for allowing varying lengths for issues. Although this issue only has six more pages, that little bit of extra space allows Hitch to utilize his expansive style without it feeling slight or rushed. This issue feels like a full issue while still allowing for splash pages and double-page layouts with only a few panels. You’re not going to find many art teams better than that of Hitch and Butch Guice as they continue to wow in this issue. Small choices like keeping Clint Barton in the shadows until he joins up with Captain America and the Black Widow in one scene really add to the look of the series. They give the world here a very lived-in feel.
This series has been building to the return of Steve Rogers and this issue takes things one step closer. It’s more mechanical than previous issues, but it’s still a great read and the Hitch/Guice art is simply gorgeous as you can see in the preview pages. If only most event books were as good as “Reborn”…