Two years of anticipation, and months of speculation, end today with the unprecedented early release of Captain America #600, and an article the New York Daily News.
Warning: This post contains spoilers, obviously.
Yes, the original Captain America is returning from the grave.
Marvel just doesn't say how.
The announcement may seem a little anticlimactic after the highly publicized death of Steve Rogers in March 2007 and, much more recently, rumors that this week's issue and July's secretive Reborn miniseries could bring a black Captain America or an alternate-universe Sentinel of Liberty.
But in the Daily News article, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada makes it clear we'll see Rogers.
"The original Captain America is finally coming back," he said. "We've been patiently planning for this moment for 2 1/2 years."
Rogers, of course, was gunned down in Captain America #25, an event that drew worldwide media attention. Former sidekick-turned-Soviet assassin James "Bucky" Barnes assumed the mantle of Captain America nine issues later. Neither Quesada nor writer Ed Brubaker mention what will become of him.
Marvel has kept the contents of Captain America #600 and Reborn under wraps, to the point that the publisher frustrated some retailers, who complained they weren't given enough information on which to base orders for the July miniseries. Initially, the final-order cutoff date for Reborn #1, by Brubaker and artist Bryan Hitch, was June 11; Marvel eventually moved it to tomorrow to allow retailers to gauge interest in today's announcement.
The company had told retailers that it expected nationwide publicity, “possibly on par with the media coverage we received during Civil War.”
It will be at least several more hours before we know whether that will play out.
Update: Todd Allen points out that the Daily News neglects to mention Captain America #600 -- or that it's available in some comic stores today.
On the Marvel website, Executive Editor Tom Brevoort reveals some of the supporting cast for the five-issue miniseries, while Brubaker hints at what the immediate future will hold for Bucky Barnes.
"[Bucky] has spent a year of his life trying to live up to Steve Rogers' legacy as Captain America, and while he definitely does things his own way, he's been changed by this experience," the writer says.. "He's been on a path of redemption for all the things he did as the Winter Soldier did, and now he's got a huge task ahead of him: to try to save Steve."
Reborn, by Brubaker and artist Bryan Hitch, debuts on July 1.
Update 3: Marvel has issued the following press release:
CAPTAIN AMERICA REBORN!
The one true Captain America, Steve Rogers, returns in
Captain America Reborn #1
Five-Issue Series Chronicling the Return Begins July 1, 2009
New York, NY (June 15, 2009) -It was the shot heard 'round the world. Following the most shocking and controversial event in comic book history - the assassination of Captain America in the pages of Captain America #25 - neither the heroes of the Marvel Universe nor the rest of the world have quite come to grips with this most traumatic of losses. From the moment he was taken from us until today, one fact has proven to be true: the world still needs Captain America. And now, the time has come! At long last, the legend, the hero, is back. Steve Rogers makes his triumphant return from the grave in the publishing event of the year: Captain America Reborn, a five part series from Marvel Comics beginning this July.
Long seen as the world's greatest hero, Captain America made his first appearance in March, 1941, boldly fighting the Nazis in World War II. As a symbol of true patriotism, his popularity soared during the war as he became a nationally revered icon of US efforts to spread freedom around the globe. Serving as the Sentinel of Liberty for nearly 70 years, Cap embodied the spirit of the American people and became one of the world's most beloved and recognizable characters. His death rocked the entire world, real and fictional, and his return from the grave promises to be a landmark event as well.
The recipient of two Eisner Awards for his tale about the life and death of Captain America, Ed Brubaker joins forces with acclaimed Ultimates artist Bryan Hitch for the landmark Captain America Reborn series. This partnership promises to produce the visually arresting, action packed story that fans around the world have been eagerly anticipating.
A story that captured international attention, Captain America #25 polarized shocked audiences by starkly depicting the murder the cultural icon. On that fateful day when shots rang out on the courthouse steps, Cap's greatest enemy-the Red Skull-- achieved his greatest ambition-or so it seemed. Since that time, the Marvel Universe has been in chaos, as as the Red Skull has worked towards his true endgame. But now there is a ray of hope in the form of Steve Rogers!
How can Steve Rogers return from the dead, and will his rebirth be enough to stop the global threat of his sworn enemy? Hitting shelves on July 1st, the special five part series Captain America Reborn finally reveals the true scope of the Red Skull's nefarious plan, and begins Captain America's triumphant return.
For fans of Captain America and those wanting to own a part of this historic oment in Marvel history, visit your local comic book retailer on July 1, 2009 to purchase Captain America Reborn #1. To learn more about this landmark event, go to www.marvel.com/reborn! To find a comic book retailer near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com/ or call 888-COMICBOOK. And be sure to pick up Captain America #600, on sale this week, as the road to Reborn begins!