by Ed Brubaker (writer), Bryan Hitch (art), Butch Guice (art), Paul Mounts (colors), and Joe Caramagna (letters)

The Story: Looking for answers, Cap is forced to relive his most painful moment as he stumbles through time.  Meanwhile, Bucky Cap and Black Widow meet Norman.

What’s Good: It was hard not to groan at “Steve Rogers: Lost in Time” last month; the concept is cringe-inducing.  Yet this month, Brubaker actually making the most of the concept, manages to pull attention away from the lameness of the concept by focusing on the torturous nature of Steve’s current time-hopping existence, as he is forced to relive a particularly awful moment of his life.  Brubaker successfully puts across Steve as imprisoned and tormented by his past, managing to turn a cheesy concept into effective emotional drama.  Those who found last month a little slow will also be happy to know that this month also brings the action, Dark Reign-style and WWII-style.

Brubaker also gives the initially hair-brained “lost in time” concept some much needed nuance and some even bigger questions.  Steve goes through the old “I can’t change anything without risking the future” time travel dilemma. However, it’s effective in that this difficulty grows to be the lock on Steve’s jailcell, forcing him to not only endure a horrid event from his life again, but allow it. The divide between Steve’s narration and Steve’s physical presence only augments this effect.  Also, the question of Steve being unconsciously in control of his time jumps is also intriguing to say the least.

As is probably expected, Hitch’s art is a thing of beauty, hyper-detailed as we’ve come to expect from him. What’s most impressive is how the art shifts in style between depictions of Steve’s WWII past and the current day Dark Reign.  Of course, this is thanks in no small part to Paul Mounts’ work on colors.  Where the WWII bits are brighter and colored in earth tones, the present day is all shadows, blues, and blacks.  Hitch and his team do a better job of depicting the mood of Dark Reign than a hundred tie-ins could ever hope to.  The art alone creates Dark Reign as a very distinctive, and very malevolent, time.

What’s Not So Good: Perhaps it’s only fitting that a book about Steve Rogers’ return leads to the “lost in time” portions featuring Steve Rogers being head and shoulders above the rest of the book.  Whether it’s Rogers’ narration or the emotional impact of his entrapment and suffering, it’s just far more enjoyable than the present day segments.  While the Dark Reign segments aren’t at all bad, the Steve Rogers bits are simply so good that I found myself often just turning pages waiting for another Rogers scene.

Conclusion: Cap fans can rest easy; this might just end up being pretty good.  An action-packed, emotional ride and hopefully a sign of things to come.

Grade: B+

-Alex Evans