This has been out for over a week now, but I finally took some time off to write a review for the current issue of this must read series... Did I just say "must read"? Well, yes actually. It goes without saying that Captain America's return was eventually going to happen, but the execution in Reborn was met with lukewarm reception at best, due in part to the time traveling mumbo jumbo that's supposedly the springboard that launches the star spangled avenger back to the present. It's not a concept I'd totally embrace from the get go, but knowing Ed Brubaker, he's not one to be underestimated. He took us by surprise with Cap's death years ago, and after reading this issue, I'm convinced that things are starting to pick up, action wise at least.
Captain America: Reborn #3
Written By: Ed Brubaker
Illustrated By: Bryan Hitch & Butch Guice
Variant Cover By: Leinil Yu
Still trapped in a time loop that makes him relive the early days of his life, Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, desperately tries to keep his sanity while looking for a way to reach his comrades in his own time. One pivotal moment provides him with the opportunity to do so without disrupting events in history, but will his message get across successfully? In the present day, Norman Osborn has played his cards right, successfully outing Sharon Carter to the public as "Cap's Killer" and capturing Bucky Barnes, the new Captain America, in order to execute his own plans of resurrecting the original. With the odds stacked against their favor, can Steve Rogers' friends find a way to save him and themselves before Norman and his allies have their way?
If the beginning of the series seemed a little too ostentatious, things finally become much more Brubaker like in Captain America: Reborn #3. The writer beckons long time Cap readers and newbies to bite the hook that is Steve Rogers' return, and whether he was successful or not in the first few issues, rest assured, this is where you should start paying attention to what's going on now. It feels and weighs more like a Captain America story now. Sure, the wheels are already turning with the "stuck in time" concept, but finally we're seeing results: Steve is self aware of his predicament and is looking for a way out; Bucky gets captured and confronts Norman Osborn's Thunderbolts; and Cap's allies are still busy trying to bring their friend back, with a few loose ends they need to take care of ASAP. It's a gratifying feeling to know that we're two issues down until the big conclusion of this miniseries, and once this is over, there's a special one-shot issue in December that will determine who will carry the shield once and for all. No duh it's always going to be Steve, but again, I'll leave the writer to decide what happens and, hopefully, surprise me.
While the twists, turns, and action Ed was known for in his regular Cap run are present in this book, I still find some irregularities and quirks that need some proper explanation before the series concludes in the way we think it will. For instance, in one flashback, Cap speaks to the Vision and asks him to "save, delete, and bury" information that his allies could find in the present. It's a pretty convenient way to get his location across, and somewhat impossible given the means and the situation. Also, Bru makes Steve body "mysteriously vanish into thin air", leaving Reed Richards and Namor stumped as to how it happened. I myself can't fathom how it just disappeared before their eyes, but again, it'll probably be explained in the next issue. It could be the work of the time loop concept... or a hidden agenda perpetrated by the Red Skull and his minions. Speaking of Cap's mortal enemy, he makes his big comeback here. Last seen in the monumental issue #600, Skull's not been himself lately, trapped in a new body that wasn't his choice to begin with. Fortunately, thanks to the machinations of Arnim Zola and Norman Osborn, he can finally make his move, and he's got his daughter Sin and trusted bodyguard Crossbones back with him. I'll admit, the Skull sequence is another cliffhanger that's making itch to read the next issue already, but its great that Bru's bringing him in now. After all, it wouldn't be a Cap book without good ol' Reddy to oppose the red, white, and blue.
If I wasn't aware that this was a Cap book, I'd still be mistaking Bryan Hitch's pencils here for his previous work, The Ultimates. Guaranteed, the art will blow readers away and does the story great justice, but for someone who has always appreciated Hitch's work on the Ultimate universe, it's still hard to think of this as an Earth 616 story. At least the book is getting the results it needs - flashy, spectacular art direction. I also have to commend Butch Guice for keeping up the pace when partner artist's hands are tied. His work is just as remarkable as Hitch's, and sometimes I can't really tell the difference between the two unless I take a clear and closer look. The variant cover art by Leinil Yu (pictured above) is stunning as well, and alongside the regular cover, it makes for great posters to buy in the future should Marvel ever release it.
Again, Captain America: Reborn delivers another solid read fans wouldn't dare want to miss. It still has a lot of confusing, Quantum Leap moments, but there are enough action scenes and funny bits that balances things out, which should give the Cap reader reassurance that things are going to be alright from here on out. I'm expecting a big pay-off for myself and everyone investing on this series, and I'm not just talking about the obvious return of Steve Rogers. As I said, Bru and company may have something up their sleeves, and we'll just have to bare with this time traveling rollercoaster ride until the big reveal shows itself and sees things through. So far, things are getting better.
Score - 7/10