Friday, July 03, 2009
So, while I might have pushed back the return of Steve Rogers, I understand that Marvel feels the need to rush Steve back before they release the Captain America movie. I have loved Brubaker's run on Captain America and have very high expectations for Captain America: Reborn #1. Hopefully, Brubaker can meet my high expectations and deliver a well crafted read with Captain America: Reborn #1. Let's do this review.
Writers: Ed Brubaker
Pencils: Bryan Hitch
Inks: Butch Guice
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with a flashback scene to D-Day with Captain America leading the Marines in storming the beach in Normandy. Captain America tells the troops that he is not going to lie to them. Captain America says that this is going to be one of the hardest days in their lives. Captain America tells the Marines to follow him. A voice narrates that this is the story of the life of Captain America that everyone knows.
We then cut to Sharon shooting Steve Rogers. A voice narrates that this is the story of the death of Captain America.
We shift to the new Captain America and Black Widow breaking into a HAMMER Helicarrier. Captain America and Black Widow kick ass on a bunch of HAMMER agents. A voice narrates that Steve Rogers' old cohort, Bucky Barnes, is now the new Captain America. After Captain America and Black Widow wipe out all of the HAMMER agents, Black Widow radios someone and informs them "All right, we're in."
Sharon tells Pym that Arnim Zola constructed a variation of Doom's Time Platform. Sharon re-tells the events of Captain America #42 where she was hooked up to the time platform. Sharon says that she saw Steve Rogers in the bright light of the time platform. Sharon broke her connection with the time platform because she was not going to let the Red Skull have Steve. Sharon says that it seemed like Red Skull was trying to bring Steve back.
Falcon then shows Pym the gun that Red Skull had Sharon use to kill Steve. Sharon continues that Red Skrull referred to her as "the constant." Sharon says that Red Skull needed her to make the whole thing work. Pym asks if they know what happened to what was left of this time platform. Sharon says that they do now.
We zip back to the present with Captain America and Black Widow making their way past some HAMMER soldiers on HAMMER's helicarrier. We cut back to Pym's lab. Pym is inspecting the gun that Sharon used to kill Steve. Pym says that the gun is definitely Doom-tech. Pym says that they need to get Reed Richards to examine the gun. Pym says there is something odd that is not making a lot of sense. Some kind of tachyon field or something unstable.
Pym then asks what are the odds that Norman Osborn would not know about Arnim Zola's time platform that is sitting in Norman's own helicarrier. Pym says that it is generally a bad idea to underestimate Norman Osborn.
Suddenly, the Ares and Venom appear on the scene along with a ton of HAMMER soldier.
We zip over to Thunderbolts Mountain which is serving as HAMMER's National Headquarters. We see that Norman has partially re-constructed Arnim Zola's robotic body. Arnim Zola tells Norman that Doom's device locked Steve's body in time and space. That with both the time platform and the constant that they were able to pluck Steve out of the time stream where he lay dormant. However, Sharon destroyed the time platform and that caused them to lose Steve's body during the transfer. Arnim Zola states that Steve has become unstuck in time.
We then see Steve back in World War II in the middle of a battle. Bucky dives and knocks Steve out of the way from some falling rubble from a bomb. Bucky says that Steve was in a daze. Steve responds that he is fine. Steve then thinks "Oh god…What's happening to me?" (Um, you are basically Desmond from Lost.) End of issue.
The Good: Captain America: Reborn #1 did not live up to my extremely high expectations. I found this to be a slightly above average debut issue. Still, there were plenty of positive aspects to Captain America: Reborn #1. Brubaker most certainly succeeded in making this issue extremely new reader friendly. Brubaker used the first seventeen pages of this issue to concisely and effectively re-cap the high points of his run on Captain America. New readers get the essential facts of Brubaker's run. This enables new reader to hop on this title and have absolutely no problems knowing what is going on.
In terms of sales and marketing, this was a smart move by Marvel. However, as a reader who has been following Brubaker's run on Captain America with the very first issue, the final thirteen pages were what actually interested me.
Brubaker performed his usual solid character work with this issue. The dialogue was also well crafted. Brubaker is an old hand with all of Captain America's supporting cast and knows how to write them properly. I loved the insertion of Norman into this story. This provided for a nice unexpected wrinkle and added yet another faction into the mix. Plus, this also helps to anchor Captain America: Reborn in the Dark Reign setting of the 616 Universe. I particularly enjoyed how Brubaker properly writes Norman Osborn as a dangerous and smart man who is not to be underestimated.
I also enjoyed that Brubaker worked Hank Pym into this story. I appreciate the concerted effort at Marvel to try and properly rehabilitate Pym's character. Brubaker continues the recent trend of firmly re-establishing Pym as one of Marvel's premier big brains right up there with Reed Richards and Tony Stark. The use of Pym in this story also helps to tie Captain America to the Mighty Avengers who I view more as the "real" Avengers compared to the motley crew on New Avengers.
Captain America: Reborn #1 was a strongly plotted issue. Brubaker does his best to show the reader how all the various clues during his run on Captain America connect together to arrive at this story. Brubaker seamlessly builds off the events from Captain America #42 in this issue. It is obvious that Brubaker has had a clear goal in mind from the moment that he "killed" Steve Rogers. Brubaker moves the story forward in a logical fashion with an obvious purpose in mind.
Brubaker ends Captain America: Reborn #1 with a solid hook ending as Steve begins to realize that he is sliding up and down the time stream. I have to admit that even though I want a couple of more years of Bucky as Captain America; it was nice to see Steve Rogers back in action once again. Brubaker certainly did enough with the "surprise" ending of this issue as the reader discovers that Steve has become lost in the time stream to hook readers into coming back for more with the next issue.
The Bad: Captain America: Reborn #1 did not live up to my lofty expectations for this issue. I have extremely high standards for Brubaker when it comes to Captain America. As long-time followers of The Revolution know, I have been consistently praising Brubaker's Captain America since the first day The Revolution started. I do believe that Captain America is one of the best comic books on the market. So, because of my respect and appreciation for what Brubaker has done on Captain America, I have extremely high standards of what I expect from Brubaker. Captain America: Reborn #1 simply did not live up to those expectation.
Brubaker's run on Captain America has been well crafted and quite original. While Brubaker has used some fantastic devices like the cosmic cube; his run on Captain America has trended closer to a realism based story rather than your typical outlandish super hero comic book story. On the other hand, Captain America: Reborn #1 was a rather unoriginal story. And this issue also veered toward more of your typical super hero comic book complete with goofy elaborate plans by the main villain.
As many of the followers of The Revolution know, I have been watching the DVD's of Lost like a madman for the past month. I am currently watching Season 4. The odd thing is that on Tuesday night I watched the fifth episode of Season 4 entitled "The Constant." If you are unfamiliar with Lost then check out the recap and review of "The Constant".
On Wednesday, I was relaxing in the lounge of my local comic book shop. Yes, my local comic shop has a lounge. That is part of why it is the best comic shop in America. I was talking with a couple of other guys about Season 4 of Lost. In particular the episode "The Constant." We were all raving about how incredible that episode was.
We then picked up our copies of Captain America: Reborn #1 and decided to read them and talk about what we thought of this issue. Once we all finished our copies of this issue, we looked at each other and all said: "The Constant." Maybe Brubaker was not ripping off Lost when he came up with his concept for Steve's mind and soul being unanchored and travelling along his time stream and requiring Sharon to serve as the constant to anchor him back into reality and into the present time stream. I guess that is possible.
But, the fact remains that Brubaker's concept for Captain America: Reborn is exactly what we got in Lost in the episode "The Constant." Desmond becomes detached from the present day as his mind and soul begin to slide up and down his time stream. Desmond has to use the love of his life, Penny, as his "constant" to anchor him to reality and the present day.
Now, the creators of Lost have stated that they were inspired by Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five when they wrote "The Constant." And I understand that often writers look to earlier works for inspiration for their own stories. But, when I was reading Captain America: Reborn #1 I felt like I was simply reading a reconstituted version of "The Constant" in super hero format. Insert Steve for Desmond and insert Sharon for Penny. It was disappointing to see Brubaker deliver such an unoriginal concept as the centerpiece for Captain America: Reborn. Hopefully, Brubaker will be able to give this story a more unique and original feel over the course of the next several issues.
Despite my reservations surrounding the originality or lack thereof of the main concept of this story, my biggest problem with Captain America: Reborn #1 is the act of bringing characters back from the dead. Unfortunately, resurrecting characters seems to inevitably lead to a cheesy and contrived story that is tough for the reader to swallow.
Brubaker's explanation of how Steve "died" and how he can be resurrected was a bit lame and cheesy. And that is the heart of the problem with constantly killing off characters and then bringing them back. It is asking too much from a writer to resurrect a character and to do so in a fashion that does not make the reader roll their eyes at some point.
I find this story much less interesting than the rest of Brubaker's run on the Captain America. Personally, I would much rather read about Bucky as Captain America than this contrived story of how Steve Rogers was brought back to life.
Another problem with this ridiculously convoluted plan that the Red Skull had for Steve is that it runs the risk of making Red Skull look like an idiot. Brubaker unveils in this issue how Red Skull planned an unbelievably ornate and elaborate plan rather than having the Red Skull simply have Sharon kill Steve with a regular gun and thereby forever being done with his arch nemesis. This type of silly plan is standard issue comic book fare that makes the villain look more like Dr. Evil from Austin Powers than an intelligent villain who is a legitimate threat.
We have seen this time and time again where the villain engages in a laughably and overly elaborate plan to dispose of the hero rather than simply shooting the hero with a gun and ending it once and for all. And in Captain America: Reborn #1, the reader is left with the impression that the Red Skull is an idiot for engaging in such an elaborate plan to deal with Steve. Hopefully, Brubaker has an excellent reason why the Red Skull would employ such an over the top plan rather than simply having Sharon shoot Steve with a real gun.
Overall: The fact remains that despite the weaknesses of Captain America: Reborn #1, Steve Rogers fans are going to absolutely love this issue. And they should. Fans of a character can easily look past many defects of a story if the end result is the return of a beloved character.
Case in point is how I view Flash: Rebirth. My love for Barry Allen's character and my excitement over his return has allowed me to be relatively immune to the obvious defects of the story. Those defects usually only irritate readers who are not devout fans of the character being resurrected.
Despite my problems with this issue, I would still recommend Captain America: Reborn #1 to long-time Captain America readers. This is the moment that Brubaker has been building to since he came aboard this title. And if you have been reading Captain America since Brubaker's first issue then it will be tough for you to skip on Captain America: Reborn no matter the obvious defects of this story.
I would definitely recommend Captain America: Reborn #1 to readers who have never read Captain America before. This issue is very new reader friendly and it offers a technically well constructed story.
On the other hand, readers who are tired of reading contrived stories where a character is brought back from the dead are better off served by not bothering with Captain America: Reborn.