CAPTAIN AMERICA REBORN #2: by Ed Brubaker, Bryan Hitch/Butch Guice
To some in discussion groups and online chat rooms it seems pretty clear cut now what will happen and how Captain America will be reborn = apparently he wasn’t dead, he’s just been missing because he’s trapped in a time travel loop. I’m not sure about that. Yes, time travel is involved but . . . . . . . my head is swimming with possibilities and I don’t mind a bit. I think Brubaker has maybe revealed one card so far but he’s not going to show his entire hand until the very end - - and it’s going to be a full house of creativity. I love this series so far. How can you resist that WWII wish-fulfillment fantasy cover with Cap’s hands around Hitler’s throat and choking the life out of him with grim determination?
In fact, before I get to the story I want to talk about the stellar art work done here. Before, I said that I felt the combination of Hitch and Guice equals Epting . . and I still see that but I’m also picking up bits and pieces of the Hitch way of drawing as well as some of Guice’s stylings. It’s a new look and a real compliment that this combo can create something that’s equally exciting as what they are known for. The two-page panel of Cap crouched down and rushing forward into battle with his legs extended as far as possible is awesome. And the four-panel fight scene between Cap and Master Man that shows them falling off a building as they grapple with each other - - in an overhead shot that shows Cap maneuvering in mid-fall and positioning Master Man beneath to take the brunt of the fall is masterfully illustrated. Say, doesn’t Master Man somewhat resemble a former U.K. superhero that Marvel recently acquired the rights to? There’s another battle scene later where Bucky/Cap and Black Widow take on some Dark Avengers that’s equally stimulating.
Now let’s get back to the story. There are a lot of little hints /comments/ activities in this issue to indicate that things may not play out exactly as we guess they will. Sure, Captain America is going to be “reborn” but it doesn’t say anywhere that “Steve Rogers” is being reborn, does it? Suppose it’s yet another player wearing the Captain America guise? I actually shuddered at the thought of what Norman Osborn suggested to the imprisoned Crossbones and Sin might actually be one of those potential scenarios.
Meanwhile Steve Rogers seems doomed to keep revisiting past moments of WWII where he is still helpless to change the outcome of those events (unlike the suggestive cover). He relives battles and other activities and then things start to fade as he is snatched away at inopportune moments to another past event. Is he a broken man in a semi-conscious state having his life flash before him and reliving key moments right before the final darkness takes his life away? Or is he, as Steve wonders himself, victimized by a mind trick and actually strapped to a table in Dr. Faustus’s or the Red Skull’s lab? And the cruelest flashback of all is the moment following his transformation after taking the super-soldier serum as he watches helpless to stop the Nazi infiltrator gun down Dr. Erskine! Is he doomed to watch again the moments of his birth as Captain America? Isn’t that the same as being “re-born”?
I think Brubaker has something unexpected planned for the final chapters of this series and for me this just enhances my enjoyment of an already very good storyline. What does Reed Richards think he’s discovered during a medical examination of Sharon Carter? What new scheme is Norman Osborn hatching as he tries to manipulate a captured Bucky/Cap and Black Widow to do his bidding? And why does he want Sharon Carter enough to create a manhunt for her by leaking the news of her involvement in Cap’s death to the press? Norm’s been talking up a reborn Captain America leading his Dark Avengers - - I can’t stand the thought of that. This title has me going round in circles almost as much as Secret Invasion did. I think this is the best book Marvel has out right now. Make mine Brubaker.