With the return of Steve Rogers announced, most people assumed that the question posed in the title of this book was a bit of a foregone conclusion. However, anyone who felt a bit smug about that gets to eat their own words now, because as it turns out, the answer wasn’t what everyone expected. And since this does take place after an issue that isn’t actually out yet, I’ll extend a spoiler warning: stop reading now if you’re waiting for Reborn #6.
The rest of you, though, can keep reading.
So. The news that Rogers won’t immediately re-assume the role of Captain America was, for what it’s worth, something of a twist. Whether this is a genuine act of deference or merely killing time to allow for a more public return during Siege is less clear – but for now, we’re free to enjoy the potential stories it opens up. Will Steve take on a new identity? Will Bucky give it up before the classic Avengers team reassembles? It isn’t immediately clear, and that, in itself, is an impressive quality in a comic, because it means that Brubaker’s plotting and characters are well-formed enough to throw doubt on company character politics – even when there’s a Captain America movie in the works.
The issue itself, while posed as an epilogue to Reborn, is actually more of a segue back into the regular series, with Brubaker writing and Guice on art. The content, though, marks it out as something particularly special, with a fantastic grasp on the role of Captain America and how it applies to both Bucky and Rogers. Brubaker infuses Rogers in particular with an unusual sense of melancholy about being Captain America – and not just because of what he thinks is in store for Bucky if he re-assumes the role. There’s one fantastic scene where Steve watches Bucky in action, and when he steps in himself, it’s shown as not so much as a natural response, more as an entirely mechanical one. Would that all superhero comics were capable of such nuance.
Although Reborn ultimately came over as a bit underwhelming, this issue reminds us exactly how Brubaker managed to make Captain America into such a high-selling title in the first place. Yes, it’s been out a couple of weeks now, but despite the title of this one-shot, it’s worth picking up for plenty of reasons far beyond the mere plot it contains. It’s really the kind of character piece that can be enjoyed over and over.