Or – “This Just In…  Former Captain America Steve Rogers Is Still Dead, Perhaps.”

CA1.jpg

The first thought that I had upon picking up this book, alleged to be a huge bombshell and to reveal the giant hidden workings of the Marvel Universe and the Red Skull’s mind?  “Man, this Bryan Hitch art looks exactly like his Ultimate Captain America.”  Is this mere coincidence?  Or harbinger of something more going on within the book?

 

Previously, on Captain America – Rebirth:  Some time ago, Steve Rogers was killed, inadvertently triggering a media frenzy.  CA2.jpgBetrayed by one of his oldest allies, Rogers had turned himself in to the government, which then immediately botched his prisoner transfer (I blame Iron Man) allowing the triumvirate of the Red Skull, Doctor Faustus and Arnim Zola to have him shot.  The reactions to his untimely demise have been mixed, with his old partner Sam “The Falcon” Wilson seeking out the killers, his girlfriend Sharon “Agent 13” Carter wracked with guilt at having pulled the trigger, his kid sidekick Bucky taking up his mantle and shield of Captain America.  Steve’s assassination led to great changes and revelations in the Marvel Universe, and after a year of mourning, Sharon Carter suddenly regained a bit of hypnosis-repressed memory.  She realized that the gun she used to shoot Mr. Rogers wasn’t standard SHIELD issue, and that (combined with the attempt by Faustus and Zola to strap her into a mysterious device cobbled together out of time machine created by Doctor Doom) makes her realize that there may be a way to recover her lost love from the clutches of Pluto…  but at what price?

We start with a flashback, D-Day, June 6th, 1944.  Allied forces mustered an invasion of Normandy, dropping hundreds of thousands of soldiers on enemy soil in a bid to turn the tide of World War II.  In the Marvel Universe, this invasion was spearheaded by Captain America (wearing a modified version of his battle costume that is very reminiscent of Bryan Hitch’s Ultimate Captain America designs) who leads the soldiers onto Omaha beach.  “Always the first into battle…  Always leading the way…  Always the victor,” intones a mechanical voice from offscreen.  “That is the story everyone knows about the life of Captain America.”  The voice goes on to say that the story is full of lies, and moreover, the story of Rogers’ death is just as false.  The voice continues to explain what has happened, including the ascension of Bucky to Captain America’s mantle.  At the same time, the selfsame Bucky Cap is invading Norman Osborn’s floating helicarrier, in search of the a mysterious item kept in storage since the day of the murder.  Not far away, in the laboratories of Henry Pym (no idea whether this is before or after recent issues of Mighty Avengers) Sharon Carter and The Falcon ask for help in tracking down the truth.  Sharon explains what happened in the lair of Zola, and how she was sure that they were bringing back Steve Rogers. 

She explains that Cap and the Black Widow have broken into the helicarrier to find the remains of the device that Zola was using, but Hank warns them about one thing.  “[The plan is] resting on Norman Osborn not knowing what he’s got…  And it’s generally a bad idea to underestimate Norman Osborn.”  At the same time, this wisdom is born out as Captain American and the Widow are attacked by HAMMER forces, as well as Dark Avengers Ares and Venom in the bowels of the carrier.  The source of the beginning mechanical narration is revealed, as Norman Osborn is shown conferrin with… Arnim Zola about the assassination, and how it was designed not to be fatal, but to lock Captain America’s body in space/time.  “So,” replies Norman, askin the 10,000 dollar question, “The real Captain America ISN’T dead?”  “He was,” say Zola.  “And he wasn’t.”  Norman realizes the ramifications of this, and asks where Captain America is now that Sharon destroyed the machine.  “Steve Rogers has become unstuck in time,” says Zola, as we cut back to Normandy.  Steve witnesses the endless bloodshed with horror, then is sent back to the day his mother died…  He pops forward in the timestream and nearly gets mown down by a German bomber, with Bucky saving him at the last second before he wonders with horror, “What’s happening to me?” 

There are a number of interesting things going on in this issue.  The continuation of Sharon Carter’s character arc is nicely handled, as we’re once again shown what made her SHIELD’s finest.  The art is well-handled throughout, and Bryan Hitch delivers.  Zola and Osborn have a long conversation that explains how Marvel’s claims that Cap was really, most sincerely dead, even though this loophole to resurrect him exists that almost works for me.  It’s the almost that ends up being the downfall.  I’m reminded of the moment after “The Other” where Peter Parker and Tony Stark have a pointed on-panel conversation explaining a seeming plot inconsistency after which they both look at the reader as if to say “So stop complaining about it already…”  My gravest reservation, though, comes from the previous fifty issues of the Captain America title.  Brubaker has gone to great lengths to give us a Captain America story that is set in the shared universe, but keeps the characters on a more ground-level footing, as befits a character whose powers are entirely those of the pinnacle human.  It’s been a very down-to-earth story about a man who fights for what he believes in, the manner of his death, and the reaction of his loved ones to their grief.  Now, we’re presented with an out involving time travel, and the effect is quite jarring.  The idea that Steve has been stuck in a recursive loop of his own life isn’t without interest, but I don’t know that I like the “peanut butter in my chocolate” effect it has on the story so far.  Brubaker’s storytelling was so effective in the death issue and in the last two that bringing Rogers back feels premature.  Add to that my problems with the “Ultimazation” of Cap’s costume (and didn’t we see the same “Cap at Normandy” scene IN the Ultimates a couple of years ago?) and my enjoyment of the issue was very muted.  This issue is an interesting start, but it’s telling a story that I don’t feel ready for, and telling it in a manner that feels like it’s taking cues from a story I’ve already read.  Captain America – Reborn #1 earns 2 out of 5 stars, and mixed emotions overall from me.  Much as with Flash – Rebirth, the story is well handled, but I don’t like the timing and I keep coming back to troublesome bits of plot…

2stars.jpg

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

Previous post

Comico returns as CO2 Comics

Next post

Top Cow Sneak Peek: The Darkness #78

27 Comments

  1. Derfel
    July 2, 2009 at 4:09 pm — Reply

    I think I agree. I say think because I still really really enjoyed the issue. I just wish it had been longer. I’d have liked more then the odd panel of action on the helicarrier. It seemed almost like a recap before an episode of Buffy the Vampire Layer where they give you the season in a nutshell then tell more. This was nutshell and I wanted a lot more. I think it will translate better as a trade in that way.

  2. July 2, 2009 at 4:12 pm — Reply

    Maybe part of the “lies” is the god awful costume he has. No soldier is going to fight a war in spandex. Sorry. Comic book superheroes or not. I applaud their retconning (I hope) of the costume. It makes complete sense to me. As a writer of a war comic mixed with super heroes it’s one of the things i’m making a point to establish.

    That being said I generally agree with this review. I wish you would have cut to the chase instead of recapping the issue point for point. But that being said I agree that we’ve had this down to Earth story and all of the sudden get things thrown into the mix. I’m so tired of Osborn and the Dark Avengers in every single title. It makes sense as to why they are here but they really didn’t have to be at all.

    I also thought the inter splicing of current day and Normany was very awkward. It could have just been done one right after the other but eluded to with captions.

    I don’t care for the fact Steve is coming back. If you read my review of the same issue you’ll see my thoughts on what I thought of his death. I think it’s too soon for him to come back as well. But I think what they need to get to the gist of is what the plan was when he finally got back. When Zola and Skull got him back. What then? What does the 1950s Cap have to do with all of this. Because most of this issue was characters finding out about plot points we already knew about years ago.

    Somebody on another website pointed out the gun in Issue 1 Page 3. Technology that could have been retrofitted but it deals with the Negative Zone…not time travel or whatever you would call this.

    I have more opinions on this issue but they’re already in my own review.

  3. Salieri
    July 2, 2009 at 4:40 pm — Reply

    This just in – Captain America reviewer Matthew Peterson’s catchphrase is dying…

  4. ~wyntermute~
    July 2, 2009 at 4:45 pm — Reply

    Man-oh-man, I hope people find what I am about to type as funny as I do…. “Captain America… R.I.P?” *bwahahahahahahahahah!!!!!* Cuz *gasp-lol!!!!* Cuz, like, He AND Bruce Wayne are now “temporally displaced” instead of “actually, toe-taggably, for-realz-in-comicbooks DEAD”. I guess the Mighty Marvel Minds like g-mo, or at least his ideas? :) Now, like, I am _not_ making an honest-to-Stan comparison between the two… Just that the similarity struck me, and I exaggerate it for (hopefully) comedic effect. :)

  5. Jacin B
    July 2, 2009 at 4:45 pm — Reply

    Perhaps the Steve Rogers that they bring back isn’t the Cap that we know at all but, rather, the Ulitmate universe’s Steve Rogers.

    After all, that would rather neatly explain why it is that the Steve that has become ‘unstuck’ in space and time is suddenly experiencing an different version of events than those that we’re familiar with.

    (I could expound on this theory further, delving into the possibility that this Steve and that Steve are actually the same Steve and that he is the lynchpin on which the entire Marvel Multiverse is going to be revealed to hang but, frankly, I’m not particularly interested.)

  6. mosdef
    July 2, 2009 at 4:54 pm — Reply

    they could have come up with something alot better. I mean stealing the idea from LOST season 5. come on marvel, Cap deserves better than that, even though i liked him dead…

  7. July 2, 2009 at 5:00 pm — Reply

    ~wyntermute~ Cap died way before Wayne did if I’m not mistaken. So this really is Morrison apeing Brubaker if you’d make the comparisons. I wouldn’t. I highly doubt either of those two men are going to rip off a story idea like that let alone each other. I still think killing off a character is a poor plot point. If you want sales bring in a great creative team and make the book something people will want to read.

  8. July 2, 2009 at 5:03 pm — Reply

    Mosdef…how is it stealing from LOST season 5 if this story was plotted out years before that? I’ve heard this comparison before and it just doesn’t make sense. I think it could have been changed because people will inevitable compare it. But I highly doubt they’re going to rip off LOST especially when one of the writers just wrote a book for them. Actually it was two writers. One did Howling Commandoes and the other Ult Hulk/Wolverine. They’d probably stear clear of it.

    It’s issue 1 of 5.

  9. ~wyntermute~
    July 2, 2009 at 5:06 pm — Reply

    Anthony: I _said_ I wasn’t making a real comparison. Yes, Cap died two years ago, but they left him in cold storage until now, which is post RIP-tides. So, like, it _could_ be possible that they just said “hey! Let’s use this!”. But, like since I wasn’t even trying to make a serious argument (and stated that I was saying what I was for the lulz), I doubt it. I wasn’t even trying to make THAT big or serious a comparison. Chill. :) You obviously haven’t got a grasp on my sense of humor yet, and that’s fine… But, like, remember where you are and please act like a guest. :) I try to. Anyway, we get it. You’re right, we’re wrong, etc yadda blah. :)

  10. July 2, 2009 at 5:26 pm — Reply

    That being said I generally agree with this review. I wish you would have cut to the chase instead of recapping the issue point for point.

    I will be more vigilant about the balance, but I have ALWAYS attempted to provide recap and review, in a manner designed to entreat interested people to get excited and buy the books. It’s a fine line to tread, and sometimes I Don Martin all over it… Either way, the name of the game is “Major Spoilers” not “Condensing Everything,” and, as with Cliff’s Notes, I try to leave at least one major theme entirely out of any given review, the better to see if anybody is commandeering my opinion as their own.

    We’re all here for the comics, not for the Matthew, though it’s the synthesis of both that make my reviews whatever the hell it is that they are. Sorry if the balance was off this time.

  11. July 2, 2009 at 5:30 pm — Reply

    I’m not saying anyone is wrong. I didn’t start online yesterday. I tore some things up in my review as well. It wasn’t perfect. But if you’re going to go on a website and start comparing things…be ready to take the heat as well as you can dish it. Joke or not you’re talking about somebody’s work. You don’t have to like it or agree but just because you have a certain sense of humor doesn’t mean everyone will get it or just not say anything and accept it. We’re all guests discussing a comic book. That’s all this is. I’m talking about it. Go see what I wrote. It’s all cool.

    No problem on the review. I just see spoilers as talking without worrying about divulging plot details. I just wanted to read your thoughts more than a synopsis!

  12. July 2, 2009 at 5:33 pm — Reply

    What does the 1950s Cap have to do with all of this?

    Well, here’s something I thought of in the shower… There was very clearly a Steve Rogers body left on the courthouse steps after Sharon shot him with the chronal howitzer. Who’s to say that it’s the same Steve Rogers that was there BEFORE the shot?

  13. Salieri
    July 2, 2009 at 5:40 pm — Reply

    Cap got a bum deal compared to Batman, didn’t he?

    Marvel: “Oh, Cap’s Really Dead, This Is A Respectful Death That’ll Have Lasting Change…NOT! Fooled Ya! Nerny-nerny-ner-ner!”

    DC: “Grant, Make It Very Obvious That Batman Is Still Alive At The End Of Final Crisis. Our Readers Aren’t Stupid, They Know He’s Not Gone For Good, We Can Play Around With The Inevitability Of His Return Via The Writing.”

    Cap’s Death: Gunned down ignobly after conceding defeat in a war against his best friend; sent to relive his worst moments ever through time.

    Bat’s Death: After defeating a figure who for all intntsand purposes was Satan, uses his own memories as a weapon against mad science and is killed striking the first killing blow against the God Of Evil while saving Earth; sent back in time to hang with cavemen and influence humanity’s ancestors.

    Cap’s Legacy: One or two memorials, several broken friendships, a few pretenders, an unborn child and a replacement who faints at the word ‘Sputnik’.

    Bat’s Legacy: A city united against crime. One brief pretender. Three sons, one a worthy successor, one who denies his death, and one who is a supremely capable if annoying 10-year-old.

    Cap’s Epitaph: A six-issue series by Jeph Loeb that only makes sense based on the idea of every character it features having slept with Steve Rogers at least once.

    Bat’s Epitaph: A two-issue series by Neil Gaiman that works on a hundred levels in celebration of the character. Instant classic.

  14. David
    July 2, 2009 at 5:43 pm — Reply

    Matthew…I believe we may be fraternal twins…because you last paragraph reflected soooooo much of how I feel about the book. Truly, after what has been probably one of the most readable runs of Captain America – and a one that just seemed so down to earth – the SciFi (SyFy?) twist is a jolt.

    And yeah, it feels too soon.

  15. Josh P.
    July 2, 2009 at 5:48 pm — Reply

    As for the why Red Skull, Zola and Faustus were bringing Steve back? Put Reddie’s mind in Rogers’ body. So nice, we’ll do it twice.

  16. July 2, 2009 at 5:51 pm — Reply

    Matthew Peterson: Good one! He has to have a major part in this! It’s either that or his “soul” might go into it when he comes back. Can they pull a body out of time without messing up the timestream? I didn’t read Iron Man when they did it as somebody else said.

  17. mosdef
    July 2, 2009 at 6:01 pm — Reply

    Anthonly the only thing im saying Marvel stole from Lost is the time hopping thing. I really highly doubt Marvel had Cap’s revival planned like this, if they did im wrong.

  18. Ricco
    July 2, 2009 at 6:03 pm — Reply

    Didn’t they bring Baron Zemo back to life in almost the same way in “Thunderbolts: Zemo – Born Better”? Instead of jumping forward in time to a blood relative like Zemo, Cap is jumping around in time to the location he was at that time and his body rearranges itself from the chronal jump. It’s not just his consciousness but his whole body superposing his “current time” one, what do I base this on? If it’s not the case he’ll jump back into his dead body once Sharon is used as a time anchor and they get the time machine…

  19. Slappy
    July 2, 2009 at 7:58 pm — Reply

    Salieri Says: July 2nd, 2009 at 4:40 pm
    This just in – Captain America reviewer Matthew Peterson’s catchphrase is dying…

    Can we kill another hero so that Matthew may then continue the phrase? Maybe Blok? That’s right he is already puzzle pieces if you cling to pre 0 hour continuity if it still exists which I don’t think it does anymore.

    I wish that Cap does stay dead. I like BuckyCap. His series is much more interesting now that there is a new hero. I do sometimes wish for the occassional complete reboot. The Golden age to silver age was wonderful. They kept the names, but changed the heroes. I know that it creates an Earth -2 Earth-1 Earth 616 bit, but who gives a flying f*%(. Sometimes starting from scratch is good, sometimes it sucks. Put more dirt over Steve Rogers & Forget how to travel through time for Bruce. I am starting to like Dick. I always liked Dick, but now I am liking Dick even more. A strong Dick is adding more to the action and story very much in the way a strong Bucky is doing the same.
    More Bucky and more Dick is what we need.

  20. ~wyntermute~
    July 2, 2009 at 8:28 pm — Reply

    Anthony: Yeah, I “get” that not everybody will get my jokes… But, like, when I _CLEARLY_ identify it as such, thus labeling it worth of VERY little ‘serious’ thought and consideration, and then you go off like you did… It kinda feels like the guy who says “Well, chickens don’t really HAVE a reason when they cross the road, y’know. They’re just chickens.” Okay, well, you didn’t think it was funny. That is your prerogative. Do you stand up and correct comedians in comedy clubs? Don’t try to treat it as a serious argument just because I’m too zany for you, or unfunny in your eyes, or whatever. :) Discussion of ALL sorts is, as I’ve been made to feel, welcome — even the “silly crap” I bring to the table. I made a funny — that was all I was trying to do — and (unlike half the time) I even put a honkin’ big disclaimer on it. I don’t even know why you bothered to take the time to seriously rebut my “point” when I already SAID I honestly didn’t have one. *lol* Like, I’m not turning this into an issue. This is all I gotta say about it. :) I just don’t want this place getting TOO serious. Jeez. Even though it IS “somebody’s work”, it’s still the internets, and it’s comics. Don’t take the ‘jokes’ too seriously, because that’s part of the atmosphere.
    P.S. I’m here for the Matthew. And the Stephen. In pretty much equal doses, so I’m not particularly biased that way. :)

  21. Brother129
    July 2, 2009 at 8:48 pm — Reply

    Time travel stories always make my head hurt. I think the only thing that will make this truly interesting is if there is a big swerve none of us can anticipate…

  22. July 2, 2009 at 8:56 pm — Reply

    This isn’t stealing from Lost, it is stealing from Slaughterhouse Five.

  23. Ricco
    July 2, 2009 at 9:18 pm — Reply

    @Brother129: maybe the cap we get back will be one prior to the Avengers, we could have the whole “teaching him about this brave new world” with Bucky and Sharon as his guides. It could work as a way to keep BuckyCap active while Steve adapts to the futur.

  24. Kurt Fenreer
    July 3, 2009 at 1:32 am — Reply

    The Quantum Leap garbage is more than a little annoying, and I got sticker shock at the register after being away for so long.

    But, it’s Steve, and his return means I return to giving Marvel my money while filling in the gap from #25 to present. *grumble*

  25. July 3, 2009 at 11:47 am — Reply

    “I wish that Cap does stay dead. I like BuckyCap.”

    Even if we do have Steve Rogers come back… that doesn’t have to mean he instantly becomes Captain America again. It’s not new for Marvel to give characters new identities… perhaps a lot of therapy for having to relive his life constantly.. or if the villains bring him back he may even be under some sort of mind control for awhile and be ‘bad’ (Which could also leave him not wanting to be Cap again if he’s forced to be a Dark Cap…) So many ways to go with this.

  26. Mike
    July 8, 2009 at 3:20 pm — Reply

    Since the “Captain America” title is already taken, maybe Steve Rogers can become the new “Captain Chaos”. Its open.

You know you have something to say, say it in the comment section