Or – “This Just In: Former Captain America Steve Rogers Is Sorta Kinda Still Dead…”

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*”Aren’t you supposed to be dead?” as translated from the German through a crushed larynx…

Previously, on Captain America – Reborn: The assassination of Captain America was a very complicated plan overall, with Doctor CAR2.jpgFaustus mind-controlling Sharon Carter into shooting Steve short-range, while the Red Skull moved his lackey Crossbones into position to fire several sniper shots that provided the actual kill, and Arnim Zola reverse-engineering something or other from Victor Von Doom’s time technology that was designed to freeze Steve in stasis.  Sharon Carter, however, blew a hole in that theory when she wrecked Zola’s machine some weeks ago, which had the cumulative affect of  tearing loose Steve’s essence from his bullet-riddled body and sending his mind back Sam-Beckett-style through his own life and timeline.  Upon discovering this deception, Sharon Carter has immediately enlisted the help of Marvel super-couple James Buchanan Barnes and Natalia Romanova (aka Captain America VIII and Black Widow I) who have infiltrated Normie Osborn’s new HAMMER helicarrier to find the murder weapon, only to end up staring down the barrel of Ares and Venom of the Dark Avengers.  Say what you will about Norman Osborn, the man knows how to prepare…

Germany, 1944.  The Red Skull is doing what Red Skulls do, putting together some sort of occult plan to give the Nazis ultimate power and win the war blah blah blah fishcakes…  “I remember this day,” thinks Captain America, leaping into action action against socialist schmuck Master Man, and remembering his victory clearly.  He realizes that the events are happening EXACTLY as they did before, too closely for it to be a recreation or some kind of mind game, and wishes that he had somebody smarter to help him figure it out.  While the original Captain America fights against the odds in 1944, the newest Cap does the same in 2009 (in theory) against HAMMER troops, an alien hybrid and the Greek god of war.  As good as Barnes and Black Widow are, however, it doesn’t take long for Venom and Ares to turn the tide, and take them out.  Luckily, Ares’ orders are to bring them in alive.  At the same time, Reed Richards and Hank Pym scan Sharon Carter for some sort of clue to what the Skull’s ultimate plan was (and are very prickly to one another, making me think this takes place before their recent moment of clarity together in Mighty Avengers.)  Reed mentions something odd about the decomposition of Steve Rogers’ body after the assassination, and it becomes clear that Sharon’s bloodstream contains the answer to the conundrum.

Having taken control of the situation, Norman Osborn takes a moment to interview Sin and Crossbones, indicating that he has a mission for them to undertake.  Crossbones snorts that he doesn’t have any interest in working for a man with a washboard for a head, and asks when he missed his trial and conviction.  “You’re an enemy combatant who committed a terrorist act on domestic soil,” replies Norm.  “No one has even suggested that there would EVER be a trial.”  Osborn informs them that they need him and he needs them, as a Captain America on his team would be a huge asset for the Dark Avengers,  “Even,” he says to Sin pointedly, “if your father’s mind was inside Rogers’ body.”  Once again pushed back through time, Steve Rogers finds himself in the lab of Professor Erskine, the man who created Captain America, and wonders if his wish for a sciency mind pushed him there.  He tries to grill the Prof about time travel and temporal physics, but it’s too late.  He is ushered into the chamber, drinks the big bottle of super-soldier serum, and is bathed in vita-rays as before, even stopping Erskine’s murderer a moment too late, as always.  Steve is horrified to realize that his new situation is torture, forced to relive events with no chance of affecting them.  Of course, his successor isn’t in much better straits, as Bucky Cap and the Widow are brought before Osborn in chains.  Bucky snarks that if Norm wants an autograph, he’ll gladly sign one.  Norman calmly replies that he had long wanted one, but thought Bucky was dead.  “But then, we all die once or twice, right?”  Heh.  I am kinda digging Norm as the unflappable universe overlord here.  He then explains what is going to happen:  He has outed Sharon Carter as the second shooter in Cap’s assassination, and Black Widow will go and tell her to turn herself in immediately, or she’ll have the blood of TWO Captain Americas on her hands…

My greatest complaint about this issue (and indeed about last issue as well) is that Bryan Hitch drawing Captain America cannot help but evoke images of ULTIMATE Captain America, who I consider to be a less interesting character.  Sure, it makes perfect sense that he wouldn’t go into battle wearing a cowl and wings on his head, but the helmet and belt pouches motif is similar enough that one can’t help but make comparisons.  The story here is interesting enough, but it’s been set up for the better part of 2 years in Cap’s regular title, giving me kind of a sense of “Okay, I remember this, let’s go.”  Still, the characterization is strong throughout, and Steve’s attempts to control his situation make me think that he’s going to be an active part in his own rescue, rather than a living macguffin throughout this mini, so that’s nice.  It’s well drawn, and well-written, with a clever if not really shocking twist at the end, as the media goes into feeding frenzy mode at the release of the footage of Sharon drawing her weapon.  Add to that a very cunning Norman Osborn, and you’ve got yourself a nice little book going on.  Captain America: Reborn #2 earns a well-handled 3.5 out of 5 stars, ranking above your average fare, and it still has enough mystique and interest to it to make me think that the miniseries has the potential for greatness, assuming I can get past my associations about the art…

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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.

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13 Comments

  1. Jacin B
    August 6, 2009 at 5:12 pm — Reply

    Norm must be a very busy man, what with being everywhere at once and engineering his global domination and all.

  2. usagi
    August 6, 2009 at 6:37 pm — Reply

    I really don’t share your enthusiasm for this issue – I thought the first issue was awful. I barely picked up #2 just to find myself in the middle of Dark Reign. I hate the ‘man lost in time’ plot device, I’ve gotten about 5 pages of actual Captain America (Bucky) in the last 3 months and I’m going to try much harder to not buy #3.

  3. August 6, 2009 at 6:42 pm — Reply

    I really don’t share your enthusiasm for this issue – I thought the first issue was awful. I barely picked up #2 just to find myself in the middle of Dark Reign. I hate the ‘man lost in time’ plot device, I’ve gotten about 5 pages of actual Captain America (Bucky) in the last 3 months and I’m going to try much harder to not buy #3.

    That’s cool… Like I said, there are some issues with the art, but I’m not hating the story. As with any review, your mileage may vary.

  4. Ricco
    August 6, 2009 at 7:08 pm — Reply

    It was good, I specialy liked that they didn’t make us wait ’till issue 4 or 5 to reveal Skull’s full plan, I hate it when they do that.

    But it suffers from the “Death of Ms Marvel” problem: she died in her comic but continued to show up in other comics, they might be fixing this in War of the Marvels thou. We have no idea WHEN this takes place. I’de like to know when this takes place Mighty Avengers, Dark Avengers, Utopia and New Avengers whise, hell I’de settle for any one of those. I get that in Marvel it’s every writter for himself and continuity is for schmucks, but I still like to know what is happening and when.

  5. Samson
    August 6, 2009 at 7:30 pm — Reply

    With all due respect, Mr. Peterson, Natasha is actually Black Widow II…the first was Black Widow Claire Voyant from the Timely Comics who was most recently seen in The Twelve. Just had to nitpick! Of course you can say that Natasha is the first from the Russian program…

  6. eric
    August 7, 2009 at 2:42 am — Reply

    Well, I have not picked up the first or the second. I will wait till the TPB. I always suggest to people to wait to the trade to save money and that way you dont have to wait for each issue. Just read it all at one time.

  7. Big Money B.G.
    August 7, 2009 at 10:40 am — Reply

    Are “The Twelve” even part of this precious continuity thing?

  8. Big Money B.G.
    August 7, 2009 at 10:41 am — Reply

    Oh, and eric, unless you’re absolutely FORCED into buying trades, I only recommend doing it sparingly. If everyone waited for the trades, the industry would go POOF! Because nobody would be buying the comics that would eventually become said-trades.

  9. Rome
    August 7, 2009 at 10:54 am — Reply

    What peeves me about “reborn” is that this story is the logical arc for the main Captain America comic, which seems to be on ‘back-up story’ hiatus.

    Now they’ve also upped the price tag on the original Cap title and essentially doubled the price because now I have to buy two books to get one story.

    I’m strongly considering dropping the whole mess.

  10. August 7, 2009 at 11:05 am — Reply

    I agree with a lot of what everyone is saying, but I’m just happy to have Steve Rogers back in continuity. I’m gonna read it and enjoy it.

  11. ykw
    August 7, 2009 at 4:57 pm — Reply

    @ Rome:

    The regular Cap title isn’t solicited through at least October. (There wouldn’t even have been a Cap #601 if Colan’s health problems hadn’t delayed the pencils on that story for so long.) It’s not gonna be like Bendis’ Continuity Flashback Theatre stories in the Avengers books during Secret Invasion. Only one book to buy. Be cool, dude. :)

  12. eric
    August 7, 2009 at 8:24 pm — Reply

    Well, if forced to buy trades is saving money, I will force myself to save money and keep buying the trades. They make enough money off everyone else. Besides DC gets enough of my money for the single issues of Justice League, JSA, now the JSA All Stars, Brave and the Bold, and Titans. I encourage any one that is thinking about dropping a series wait for the trade. It gets better that way. Also you can keep up with a series here at Major Spoilers just about. A trade is usually out in about 3-4 months anyway.

  13. August 7, 2009 at 10:18 pm — Reply

    With all due respect, Mr. Peterson, Natasha is actually Black Widow II…the first was Black Widow Claire Voyant from the Timely Comics who was most recently seen in The Twelve. Just had to nitpick! Of course you can say that Natasha is the first from the Russian program…

    Well, technically, I can say whatever I want, because I have universal edit priveleges. Of course, that Black Widow isn’t really a Marvel character. Also: this isn’t the 70th anniversary, either. :)

    But, yes, you are correct, sir.

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