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.
– Cal Cleary