We all know how "Captain America: Reborn" was going to end. It's right there in the title, after all. Of course, if you want a little bit more information, you can get it in this story, which goes so far as to spoil the final twist of "Reborn" -- though, mercifully, not the specifics of it. And it does apologize for doing so on the recap page.
Still, Steve Rogers is back, and at the start of this issue, there are two Captain Americas. The burning question, of course, is, again, there in the title: Who will wield the shield? The answer seems to be a foregone conclusion -- but maybe not the way you're expecting.
Brubaker does well to play up the conflicting feelings of Rogers and Bucky, and indeed, their own perceptions of one another. After reminding us who the characters are and what they share, the centerpiece of the issue sees both go into crime-fighting action alongside one another, briefly sharing the role of Captain America and demonstrating just how it defines them. With the hard superheroics of "Reborn" now mercifully behind us and the focus squarely back on the espionage, politics, and iconography of Captain America, this is easily the best Cap comic all year.
If this is an indication of where Brubaker's run on the character is going, then it's quite a feat to think that following a fairly lackluster turn on "Reborn," he's actually come back stronger than ever. There's a buzz in seeing Rogers back in circulation, particularly since we're allowed inside his head for the first time since Reborn, but there's also a strange melancholy which Brubaker articulates beautifully; with his struggle now over, Rogers has been deeply affected by his experiences, and perhaps going back to being Captain America isn't as easy as picking up his shield again. Is he still needed, but more importantly, does he even want it? And how does his would-be successor feel about this?
Naturally, I won't spoil in this review which Captain America actually ends up wielding the shield, and which ends up yielding the shield, but this issue doesn't dodge the question. By the end of the issue you'll have a definitive answer as to who Captain America is.
Although the content of the issue stands alone, Cap fans should take particular notice: despite Marvel's penchant for hasty tie-ins on big storylines, this does appear to be a rather essential epilogue to Reborn and a lead-in to the return of the regular "Captain America" series - particularly since artist Butch Guice is in fine form, back on artistic lead.
If there's anything we can take away from this one-shot, it's that all the "event" comics in the world aren't a substitute for a good story. This issue knows what it wants to say about Captain America, and it does it with flair and brilliantly refined craft. A new chapter for the character and, perhaps, the start of the best one yet.