Or – ” An Answer That We DIDN’T Expect…”
Many of us have noticed that the return of Steve Rogers has come and gone, whether or not the final chapter of the story has been actually printed or not.Â We’ve seen him in Avenger Annual, we’ve seen him in the Siege Prelude, and now we get this story, the final word on what will happen AFTER the final issue of a series that hasn’t been printed yet…Â It’s one of the most obvious admissions that comics are about nothing so much as loss leaders for the collections since Final Crisis was sold incomplete, and not corrected until the hardcover reprinting.Â Either way, with a title like “Captain America Reborn,” we shouldn’t have to spend a lot of time contemplating how it’s going to end.
Captain America: Who Will Wield The Shield #1
Previously, on Captain America:Â Steve Rogers death was a sham, and Former Captain America Steve Rogers is no longer still dead.Â He’s not pining,Â and he hasÂ passed on.Â Former Captain America Steve RogersÂ used to beÂ no more!Â He has not ceased to be.Â It would beÂ false to expclaim that he hasÂ expired and gone to meetÂ his maker. He is not a late Captain America.Â It would be untrue to claim that he is a stiff.Â No longer bereft of life,Â it will be some timeÂ before heÂ rests in peace.Â Though the Red Skull would have happilyÂ nailed himÂ to the perch, it would not beÂ realistic to expect that Former Captain America Steve Rogers would be pushing up the daisies.Â Â He has notÂ rung down the curtainÂ nor has he in any way, shape or formÂ joined the choir invisible. This is no longer an ex-Captain America.Â
He is, however, not quite entirely back to his old self yet, and there are some entirely understandable reasons for that.
We open our festivities with some woolgathering from the original Captain America, thinking how no matter how many battles he has won since Namor chucked him into the Atlantic, everyone thinks of Captain America in terms of World War II, fightin’ Nazis and shooting soldiers.Â We are treated to come flashbacky stuff wherein Steve and Bucky discuss the role of Captain America in a filthy tent in Germany, a conversation during which Steve points out that Captain America was meant to be the first of an army of super-soldiers, and so he takes his role very seriously.Â (It’s also a very nice way of illustrating WHYSteve has honed himself into not just a soldier, but a leader as well.Â Jackson Guice handles the art chores, and I find echoes of Joe Simon in his art style during this segment.Â We cut to modern times in New York, and I swear Guice is doing a Jim Steranko riff as James Barnes and Natasha Romanoff discuss the shield, and Barnes remarks that he’s nothing but the fill-in.Â “Why can’t you BOTH be Captain America,” asks Natasha, and Barnes tells her that there’s just ONE Cap, and that man has just returned from the dead…
More Steranko influence is shown as Steve and Sharon Carter have the same discussion across town, and the once and possibly future Cap explains that reliving his life over and over was an endless nightmare, during which he lost his mind more than once.Â She promises that she has him, and we tastefully pan away as they embrace.Â Both Caps venture out into the night to clear their head, and encounter Mister Hyde raging in Mid-Town, trying to knock over the diamond exchange.Â The art suddenly turn into a Gene Colan tribute as Nu-Cap and the Black Widow engage the madman in combat.Â James suddenly realizes that his mentor is standing in the shadows, and flings the shield up to him, allowing Steve to take the knockout shot on Mister Hyde.Â Steve tries to give Bucky back the shield, but he refuses, reminding Steve that the shield belongs to HIM.Â Rogers convinces the newest Captain America to keep the shield, and returns home.Â Cap is once again lost in his thoughts, remembering how he didn’t just relive the past in the Red Skull’s trap, he caught glimpses of the future, a future in which James Buchanan Barnes gave up the shield and died…Â We end with a very interesting sequence wherein Steve Rogers arrives at the White House, having called the secret number of the red phone in the Oval Office.Â The president remains in shadow, but he looks remarkably like the sitting head of state, and Steve explains that he can’t go back to being Captain America right now.Â The President tells him that’s okay.Â “This country’s going to need to call on you for something much BIGGER.”
Oooh, that’s ominous.Â Kinda makes you wonder about what that thing could be, doesn’t it?Â I don’t suppose it would have anything to do with a former gobliny guy rapidly going right around the bend, would it?Â Either way, I’m happy that Marvel gave me a swerve in this issue.Â I expected (as I’m sure many of you did) a Steve Rogers’ Greatest Hits compilation, ending with him returning to the Avengers in glory, and they managed to give me something intriguing instead.Â The art shifts throughout the issue, mimicking classic Captain America art teams as we go.Â The Colan pastiche in particular was incredibly good, making me wonder if Gene didn’t actually participate in the art himself.Â As interstitial stories go, this is a good one, giving both Captain America IX and Captain America I their due, and even deepening their friendship, nice work by writer Ed Brubaker here.Â They also make the point that Cap and Bucky worked together for only FIVE YEARS during the war before going their separate frozen ways.Â Captain America: Who Will Wield The Shield is better than I expected, perhaps better than it has reason to be, and the reveal at the end threatens to change the Marvel Universe as we know it, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall.