Review: Captain America comes back from the dead in Reborn

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

As we all know, the rules of life and death are different in superhero comic books. No death can remain unreversed; a character is not permanently dead unless you see the body, and even then the grievousness of the wounds and the finality of the corpse's disposal do nothing but ramp up the ridiculousness of the devices that must later be used to bring him back.

In a field where Doctor Doom once survived being cremated, where Spider-Man's Aunt May is still alive and kicking despite two separate funerals, where the Jason Todd Robin came back from his own burial because a super-strong madman spent a few years angrily punching a wall, and—most importantly, for our purposes—where the assassination of Captain America in the aftermath of Marvel's Civil War led to his replacement by the teen sidekick who was himself blown up real good way back in World War II, it was only a matter of time before the star-spangled avenger returned to fight anew, even though we all saw the burial of the man shot dead on the Manhattan courthouse steps.

It's been about two and a half years, but now we have Captain America Reborn #1 (Marvel Comics, $3.99), written by Ed Brubaker with art by Bryan Hitch and Butch Guice, wherein the various members of Cap's large supporting cast (among them the Falcon, Sharon Carter, Nick Fury, the replacement Cap and the Black Widow) discover that the bullets that perforated the big guy at the behest of his longtime enemy the Red Skull were actually manifestations of Dr. Doom's time-machine technology, and that a Cap now "unstuck in time" has been bouncing back and forth among the highlights of his long and storied career. This is all somehow part of the Red Skull's master plan, though why he would go to such convoluted lengths to bring back an enemy he's been trying to kill since 1942 remains at this point an unanswered question.

As is only to be expected from a Brubaker script with Hitch art, it somehow manages to feel grounded and immediate despite the outrageous (and, really, narratively indefensible) lengths the creators must now go to to make the impossible happen. It doesn't entirely escape its status as a colossal cheat, but then that was expected from the moment Cap's death made the front pages in both his universe and ours.

Longtime readers will just have to accept these developments as the price to be paid for getting to the next thing, which is, most pressingly, that Cap's not going to be happy at all when he finally does return to the present day and discovers that the still-lingering fallout from the civil war that his side lost has eventually led to the Avengers being replaced, in the public's eye, by evil, murderous imposters under the command of Norman Osborn. Whatever happens, it's gonna be real fun to see Cap track down Tony Stark, the Invincible Iron Man, whose well-meaning but short-sighted machinations, way back then, ultimately led to this sorry state of affairs.

Cap's angry "I Told You So" is gonna be real eloquent.