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By Ben Morse
Over two years ago, Steve Rogers died; this summer, he will be REBORN.
Beginning on July 1, writer Ed Brubaker and artist Bryan Hitch present CAPTAIN AMERICA REBORN, a history-making limited series spinning out of CAPTAIN AMERICA #600, on sale now, and centered on the return of Steve Rogers, the original Captain America, to the Marvel Universe. For Brubaker, it represents a pivotal turning point in a saga he has been building for over five years.
"REBORN is the next chapter in the larger story that I've been building in [CAPTAIN AMERICA] since issue #1," explains the writer, who launched this current volume in 2004. "This is a chance to really explore how things have changed in the years since Steve's death and really delve deep into who Steve Rogers is and why he became Captain America. It's a really a [story] with two or three different plotlines that all intertwine, which is a lot of fun and allows us to have [both] in-your-face action and quiet character moments."
"We've been planning the story of Cap's return virtually from the moment that he died," reiterates editor Tom Brevoort. "[As] the story developed and we embraced the
concept of Bucky as the new Cap, events elongated naturally, [but] you'll be able to look back into [CAPTAIN AMERICA #25] and the issues that followed and see the assorted seeds we planted once we reveal what's been going on in REBORN."
Speaking of Bucky Barnes, what does CAPTAIN AMERICA REBORN hold in store for Rogers' one-time sidekick, who shook off years of hardships as the mind-controlled assassin the Winter Soldier in order to become the new Captain America? And does the Marvel U have room for two Sentinels
"[Bucky] has spent a year of his life trying to live up to Steve Rogers' legacy as Captain America, and while he definitely does things his own way, he's been changed by this experience," notes Brubaker. "He's been on a path of redemption for all the things he did as the Winter Soldier, and now he's got a huge task ahead of him: to try to save Steve."
"While Bucky's been finding his way as Captain America, it was never a mantle he wanted to assume," adds Brevoort. "But whether he realizes it or not, being Captain America has been good for [him]. It's brought him into new circles of friends and allowed him to put some demons from his past to rest. If he's no longer going to be carrying Steve's torch, then a very real problem for Bucky becomes facing the question of where he fits in this modern world.
"[But that all] assumes Steve will come back hale and hearty and fit for duty, both physically and emotionally, and that may not be the case. All during these months, while the world thought him dead, Steve's been on a metaphysical journey of his own, and the experiences he's lived through during that time are going to have a profound effect on his state of mind."
But before those questions can be answered, Steve Rogers must be found and rescued—if that's even possible. Fortunately for Bucky, he won't be alone in his efforts.
"REBORN is a story that spans the Marvel Universe," promises Brevoort. "We'll see the usual cast of CAPTAIN AMERICA regulars, [including] the Black Widow, Sharon Carter [and] the Falcon, as well as the Vision, Hank Pym, Reed Richards and the Avengers. On the other side of the coin, we'll be dealing with not only the Red Skull, but Norman Osborn, Doctor Doom and a few other surprises as well."
"The Skull has been off the table and hidden away since all his plans went up in smoke in [CAPTAIN AMERICA #42]," says Brubaker of the man who masterminded Steve Rogers' demise. "He's been trapped in a robotic body and really going a bit crazy, even more than usual, so he's not in control of anything. In REBORN we'll see him trying to scramble to get a new plan into place and deal with people like Doom and Osborn—it's a whole new playing field for the old bastard this time."
During his tenure on CAPTAIN AMERICA, Brubaker has been fortunate to collaborate with some of the industry's best artists, including Steve Epting, Mike Perkins, Butch Guice, Luke Ross and others. For REBORN, Bryan Hitch, the acclaimed draftsmen behind classic works like THE ULTIMATES steps up to the plate, with Guice joining him on inks.
"When the [death of Captain America] first happened, I e-mailed [Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada] and told him that if the regular guys weren't going to do it, I'd love to do the return story," Hitch recalls. "Joey told me to shut up and draw [FANTASTIC FOUR], so I did, and then out of nowhere came REBORN.
"I did spend many years drawing Cap in ULTIMATES and the mega-talented Butch Guice has my back, forever erasing ears and drawing wings," the artist continues. "Ed is great. His scripts give me all the information I could need a give me tons of room to play."
"Bryan brings an incredibly expansive approach to storytelling and a keen eye for detail," says Brubaker, reflecting the compliments back his collaborator's way. "You write an action scene for Hitch and you get back an opera of violence and choreography. And seeing him inked by Butch Guice is like a dream team. These guys look so great together."
CAPTAIN AMERICA REBORN launches with lofty expectations, as the death of Steve Rogers garnered
both critical acclaim and unprecedented media coverage, but those involved with the series feel up to the challenge and have confidence in the story they're telling.
"We got very fortunate in that the death of Cap garnered so much mainstream media attention and affected so many people," reflects Brevoort. "I think [that was] both because of what Captain America symbolizes even to people who haven't been following his adventures month after month, and that it happened just as there was a shift in the overall tenor of the nation. Cap's death came to be seen as indicative of some larger truths about the state of [America]. The death of Cap seemed to symbolize the death of hope.
"In terms of bringing Steve back, that too seems to reflect today's feeling of positivity [and] a world in which we want to believe in heroes again, that good men can triumph and that we can be our own better selves."
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