Review: Captain America: Reborn #1

Cap

I have a confession to make – I’m not reading Captain America.  At least, not in monthly form.  A combination of factors caused this, but largely it’s because I didn’t hear about how good his run was until it was over 20 issues in… and I didn’t believe it until I managed to pick up that first omnibus (which managed to sell me on his run completely).  I keep relatively up to date on what’s happening, though I try and avoid spoilers.  Still, when the title of the mini is Captain America: Reborn, you face the reality that there are some spoilers you just can’t avoid.

Still, I thoroughly enjoy Brubaker, I enjoy his take on Captain America, and Marvel is marketing this as a mini-series.  By doing so, they are clearly courting a larger audience than merely the one that regularly reads Captain America.  So the question here is, does Captain America: Reborn work for audiences both new and old?  Yes, it does.  And that’s not always a good thing.

This issue is extremely heavy on the exposition.  And I mean, there is exposition, sometimes quite lengthy exposition, on almost every page of the book, sometimes overloading the action going on in the foreground of the panels.  It’s framed in a number of different ways, it’s well-written, and Brubaker makes sure that what’s happening on screen as he infodumps is generally pretty interesting, but it is nonetheless a whole lot of exposition covering the entirety of Brubaker’s run.

Hitch and Guice provide static art that’s always just a little bit darker than it really needs to be.  Which is not to say it’s bad – there’s a great deal they do right. A few of the fight scenes seem to be fairly dynamic, and the more conversational panels are done extraordinarily well.  The panels seem to sweep around the room in a few conversations, making it feel almost like a movie in the way it’s set up.  But Hitch is an artist who’s never quite worked for me.  In struggling to be too realistic, he loses some of the motion, some of the essential humanity of his characters.

I realize that this sounds particularly negative.  I assure you, Captain America: Reborn #1 is not a bad book.  Brubaker clearly knows what he’s doing, and there’s the sense throughout that you’re watching something enormous and unexpected unfold, like a massive Christmas present being unwrapped.  Even if this issue is almost entirely set-up for what is to come, it is still capable, relatively enjoyable set-up that offers a great deal to future issues.

In other words, Reborn #1 does what it needed to do – informed new/returning readers of what’s been going on while still moving the action forward – and that’s definitely to its benefit.  But that’s about as ambitious as it gets.  If this issue is any hint, Reborn will be as excellent as the rest of Brubaker’s run, but the issue doesn’t make me need to read the next one.  I’ll wait for the trade.

Grade: B-

- Cal Cleary

Read/RANT

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8 Responses to Review: Captain America: Reborn #1

  1. brucecastle says:

    I was just about to write this up, and you beat me to it!

    I pretty much agree, only you were actually a bit too kind. This just wasn’t the best work from all parties involved. I’m not even sure if it was that good, especially considering the expectation and high cost.

    I have followed Cap since the beginning, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting the second omnibus. Trouble is, Marvel screwed us, offering an omnibus that reprints an issue from the first one, and has a much lower page-count for the same price.

    And, as someone who has already read those issues, I can tell you that they’re not nearly as good as the first 25 issues.

    I was about to drop Cap completely, but buy this series in the hopes that things would get much better once Steve returned. But, after this lackluster issue, I’m not sure I want to read any of it.

    We’ll see.

  2. brucecastle says:

    Oh, and did you know you still have that Incognito draft?

  3. seventhsoldier says:

    Eh. You should still write the review, especially since you’ve been reading it all along. For me, honestly, a lot of the exposition was needed – I knew Bucky was back and was Cap, but most everything after that was new to me.

    And I did still know I have the Incognito draft. I hope to get to it in the next few days.

  4. brucecastle says:

    Write the review? You want me to work? Screw ye!

    I don’t think THAT much exposition was needed, just look at Batman and Robin #1. All that exposition was worked in so organically, you barely noticed it, and everything you needed to know was explained. Plus, Marvel could’ve printed up one of those recap sheets if Brubaker couldn’t handle it.

    Our reviews would be similar, only I would give a few spoilery thoughts and criticize Hitch’s art more.

    And no trying to stop me quitting Cap? I’m surprised.

  5. seventhsoldier says:

    I agree – the exposition was overused and underneeded. But it’s better than just having us jump right in. I think. Maybe.

    Also, hey, there are some books that I will fight to get/keep people (to) read(ing). They’re the best of the best. Blue Beetle, for example. Cap is good. Hell, that first Omnibus is flat-out great. But I’m not familiar enough with the recent Cap output – and this issue didn’t exactly wow me – to put this on that list.

  6. brucecastle says:

    Blue Beetle? Bah!

    Oh, apparently Y #1 is one of those one dollar thingies. I’ll probably pick it up.

    Yeah, I may not even be back for the second issue of Cap. I thought, “Hey, at least the art will be good,” but the art isn’t even that good!

  7. seventhsoldier says:

    You did not just ‘bah’ John Rogers’ Blue Beetle, I hope.

  8. brucecastle says:

    I’ll bah whatever I please!

    Have you been watching Batman: The Brave and the Bold? Jaime is in it a lot.

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