Saturday, December 19, 2009

Comic Review: Captain Americe: Reborn #5

At last, a new Captain America Reborn issue is available at newsstands... but it's not the final chapter yet. There's still a lot going on that needs to be told, and with that Marvel has extended the series to 6 issues, making this one heck of a cliffhanger by the time you're done reading the book. With Steve Rogers set to return to a Marvel Universe rampant with evil and Dark Reign, will he get out of this predicament with his mind and soul intact? Let's find out how everything fares with this issue.

Captain America: Reborn #5
Written By: Ed Brubaker
Illustrated By: Bryan Hitch & Butch Guice

After being pulled out of time and placed back in the present day, Steve Rogers, the original Captain America, has finally returned... but not all is what it seems. With the help of Norman Osborn, Doctor Doom, and Arnim Zola, Cap's eternal archnemesis and rival, The Red Skull, has taken control of his own body, leaving the star spangled hero trapped within the corners of his own mind. Aware of this diabolical plot engineered by the Nazi mastermind, Bucky Barnes and crew race to the H.A.M.M.E.R Helicarrier to stop the Skull's insidious plot and rescue Steve and Sharon Carter. However, things don't go too smoothly for the heroes, and all may be too late as "Captain America" prepares to make his move, which may spell doom for Steve Rogers, his friends, and the entire United States.

Alright, we've reached the penultimate chapter to the story chronicling the return of Steve Rogers, and even as the rest of the Marvel Universe welcomes him back with open arms, this saga is just wrapping up and telling the tale of how ol' stars and stripes is getting back in the saddle. Originally, this was supposed to be a 5 issue miniseries, but in typical mega blockbuster and superhero comic fashion, this was a story too big to contain itself within that given limit, and as a result, a sixth issue was commissioned to wrap things up and slated for release next month in January. Given that this series is stretching things a little bit too much, I was honestly hoping for things to end already, especially with the outcome so obvious and already reflected in comics as of late, such as last week's issue of the Invincible Iron Man. I still admire Ed Brubaker's writing talent, but in terms of execution, bringing back Cap this way is a little bit too convenient for long time readers like me. Don't get me wrong, he knows a lot about the Cap Mythos and does well in portraying the character in the comic medium, but I wish he delivered more of that "espionage style" and mystery punch he's utilized so well in the regular Cap book for a few years now. In a stark contrast, executing Steve Rogers' death a few years ago was just sheer perfection, and to bring him back this way kind of ruins the effect and importance that event had with readers. I would have preferred things being handled without revolving around the concept of time-travel, but this Lost-esque approach has already had its wheels turned, so the only end result left is to see things until its conclusion. The only saving fact is that we have Steve back... and it's been quite a while since we've seen back in the land of the living.

For this issue in particular, Brubaker went all out an provided the much awaited action bits - case in point - the ultimate showdown between the old Cap and new Cap, Bucky Barnes. Since Bryan Hitch is handling most of the pencils here, the final battle feels a whole lot like the Ultimates... with the absence of the witty and satire laced dialogue Mark Millar presented in his books. Brubaker instead delivers monologues and head to head conversations that will have the comic book fan breezing through without holding their breath for a moment. The splash pages are wonderful art though, and you'll get plenty of Cap vs Cap time in the latter parts of the issue. In the other side of the spectrum, original Cap is looking for a way out of his new predicament and comes face to face with the Skull in his own mind, trying to reclaim dominance over his own body. I would have loved a fist to fist battle that was adjacent with the present day Cap vs Cap battle, but both fights lack a little more substance... which is possibly being saved for the last issue. Butch Guice also lends his talents to help Hitch with the illustrations, and you'll hardly notice the difference, unless you look and analyze every panel and page.

For all that its worth, Captain America Reborn #5 is a steady and fast paced read compared to its time twisting and mystery laced predecessors. It's chalk full of action, and the only qualms one will probably have is that it should have ended then and there, but there's one more issue to go, and in true Ultimates style fashion, everything else has to move on and proclaim the end result even before the series has wrapped up. I'm still a fan of Brubaker and would love to see his take on Steve and Bucky post Reborn. Next week's "Who Will Wield The Shield" one shot should reveal how those two come to terms, and what the fate of both Captain Americas will be.

Score - 6/10

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