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Re-Bored

Just like we thought: A dead character returns— and way too soon.

By Trevor Hale
Posted // July 22,2009 -

It was bound to happen. Sure, it’s an integral part of the medium—and a basic component of serial storytelling—but still, it’s just too soon. Things were going great, everyone was happy, and then—bam! Steve Rogers comes back from the dead.

It’s been two years since Rogers was gunned down on the steps of a courthouse in Captain America No. 25, and since then, the book has been as good as ever, if not better. Cap’s old sidekick, Bucky (aka The Winter Soldier), has picked up the shield, donned the mask and tried to live up to the mantle of a murdered icon. The “shadow of a legacy” aspect is one of the most-interesting elements in the series now, and writer Ed Brubaker has woven it into a masterful tale that should end up as one of the definitive Captain America runs in history.

If Brubaker weren’t the one in charge of the story, it wouldn’t be surprising if the next issue ended with Patrick Duffy telling us it was all a dream, because other elements of this return are dangerously close to “cheap stunt” territory.

Last month, Captain America No. 50 was released, then Marvel switched the series back to its original numbering (combining all previous volumes), so that issue No. 600 could be released the very next month. That issue was released on a Monday instead of Wednesday, which is normally when comics are released—a move that infuriated numerous retailers because of extra shipping charges that came with getting a single book two days early. The release was accompanied by a press blitz announcing that Steve Rogers was, in fact, returning from the dead, and that everyone should rush out and buy issue No. 600.

The only problem is that Steve Rogers was nowhere to be found in it. The issue—while brilliantly written and gorgeously illustrated—was little more than a quick recap of everything that took place in the first 50 issues. It ended with a lackluster “To Be Continued in … Reborn!”—a f ive-issue mini-series beginning the following month.

The Internet, of course, was running rampant with theories as to what would take place in the pages of this overhyped issue— and most of them hinged on the July 22, 2011, release date of the movie adaptation. One of the better ones was that Will Smith would be playing the lead and that Reborn was going to re-introduce Isaiah Bradley—the first person to be injected with the Super Soldier serum and who happens to be black.

The less-outlandish and more-rational theory is that Brubaker wanted to finish what he started. He’s been writing the series for close to five years now and might feel he has run the course of stories he wants to tell. Having been in the comics business a long time—and knowing full well that “dead” doesn’t mean the same thing in the comics universe as in the real world—he knew that it was only a matter of time before Steve Rogers came back. And he wanted it to be on his watch rather than someone else’s.

Captain America isn’t the only hero finding a new lease on life this year, either. Over at DC Comics, Bruce Wayne died at the end of its last event, Final Crisis (or he might have just been sent back in time). Now, his ex-sidekick, Dick Grayson (formerly Robin), has taken up the mantle, and all the Bat-books are graced with a banner that reads “Batman Reborn” across the top—which is either insanely brilliant or incredibly lazy, depending on your perspective. How long Bruce Wayne is actually gone from the title probably all depends on how long it takes to get that Dark Knight sequel off the ground.

In the world of comics, the status quo never changes completely; it just gets shaken up every once in a while to keep things interesting. And dying never put much of a damper on the legacy of any character, because it’s merely a set-up for a heroic return somewhere down the line.

 
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