Ed Brubaker is a strong writer of noirish crime fiction, gritty super-powered sagas, and long-form solo superhero narratives. But he hasn’t shown himself to be quite as good with superhero team books. And that has been part of the problem with “Captain America Reborn” as it has unfolded, becoming almost an alternate reality “Avengers” series with its multitude of co-stars. But Brubaker has also proven himself to be a superior writer of small supporting casts, and that balances out the unwieldy superhero squadron that fills the final few issues of this series.
It may be overwhelmed with costumed characters, but at least “Captain America Reborn” takes time to spotlight the gang that’s filled Steve Rogers’s boots for the past couple of years. The Falcon may get the short shrift, ultimately, but Bucky Barnes and Sharon Carter get their moments, and its fitting that in a series about the return of Steve Rogers, Brubaker takes the time to point out what he’s returning to. Who he’s returning to.
Because, SPOILER, Steve Rogers is back. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true. This isn’t a dream. It’s not an imaginary story. Cap’s back. Shocking.
Okay, it’s easy to be sarcastic about it, because not only has this six-issue series been running since July of last year (which doesn’t make it all that late, overall), but Steve Rogers has reappeared in Marvel books over the past month. So, yeah, we all know he’s back. And that knowledge has killed any suspense this comic may have developed even if we all knew how it was going to end anyway. But it doesn’t matter that we all knew, it matters that the dramatic moment of Steve Rogers full and complete return didn’t end up happening in this series. It happened elsewhere. And this series paid the price.
Which is too bad, because this final issue is a good one. Bryan Hitch and Butch Guice keep the action flowing dynamically, they give Steve Rogers his moment in the sun (literally), and the whole comic is just filled with meticulous detail of the type that Hitch brought to his best “Ultimates” work. I’ve always felt that this series would have been more appropriate within the main “Captain America” series, to continue the story Brubaker began telling back in issue #1 of that title. But after reading this final issue of the miniseries, I may have to reconsider that opinion. The superhero spectacle of this conclusion might seem out of place in the more grounded “Captain America” run. Not that the main series, with its skull-faced supervillains, conspiracies, crazed Eisenhower-era refugees, and mind control victims is all that grounded in reality, but there’s more bombast in “Captain America Reborn” than in the entire run of the main series under Brubaker. But it’s the good kind of bombast, the kind that fits the explosively dramatic return of a legend.