Last week brought us issue four of six of Ed Brubaker’s Captain America : Reborn. Of the four issues thus far, this last one was the least interesting. It’s almost as if Brubaker brought the show to a sudden stop, just to align with 2010’s Siege series(?) And now they’ve announced an epilogue . . . Captain America : Who Will Wield the Shield? . . . due in December.
But scheduling aside, this is still the best long-term story arc since Thor lost his hammer back in the Walt Simonson days.
If you remember, Brubaker signed on to Cap in 2005, when Marvel abandoned the old numbering and begin with issue #1. But much of those early issues had nothing to do with Cap. They told the stories of Red Skull and Lukin. Winter Soldier. Then it was all about Crossbones and Sin, the daughter of Red Skull, who continued to have prominent roles throughout the series. Later, Brubaker incorporated Cap’s death as a result of Civil War, and told of the subsequent underground actions of Nick Fury and other unregistered heroes. In this way, Brubaker wove his title into the fabric of Marvel’s big storylines but did so without sacrificing the overall story that he wanted to tell. I can’t think of another writer who has been able to accomplish this so seamlessly. He almost makes it look as if he, and not Brian Michael Bendis, is the true architect of the current Marvel Universe. (Incidentally, this is what makes him so perfect for his other “big” series—Marvels Project, which I highly recommend.)
He also managed to make Bucky an arguably better Captain America than Steve was. At a minimum, Bucky was more of a Cap for our time. No one thought he’d be able to pull that off.
The fourth issue of Reborn has been out long enough that I’m not giving anything away by telling you that Steve Rogers still has not returned, but Cap has. With The Red Skull in his body. Astute readers all saw this coming. What’s harder to predict is how Steve will get his body back, and what will happen to Red Skull when he does. Presumably, that’s part of what’s behind the December one-off, Captain America : Who Will Wield the Shield? So now we have a one-shot spinning off a miniseries that spun off a main title. Enough, already. Can’t all this just be in the regular Cap comic?
Griping aside, Brubaker has proven himself to be an adept time-travel writer, something that’s not easy to do without seeming stupid. In the story, Skull/Zola/Doom had all planned to freeze Steve’s consciousness in time and then use his body, which is not stuck, to host Red Skull (who, as we all should know, is not really Red Skull, he’s the clone of Red Skull—don’t ask). But instead, Agent 13 (Sharon Carter) wrecked the Steve-stick-in-time machine and as a result, Rogers is bumping around revisiting his glory days.
Of course, now that Skull has occupied Steve’s physical body, it’s not clear where Steve has gone. There’s one line in issue 4 where Steve says he’s tired (“I’m a man who can’t feel fatigue, and yet it’s all I know”) that suggests that maybe Steve won’t return to being Captain America . Maybe he’ll leave it in the proven, adept hands of Bucky?
Nah. Marvel would never do that. (Except they already did . . . )