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

The Story: Welcome back Steve Rogers….maybe?  Sort of?

What’s Good: Over the course of my reviews of Reborn, I’ve repeatedly stated that the comic is better the more it focuses on Rogers, as I’ve thus far found most of the present day portions to be relatively dry.  This month bucks that trend, as while much of the comic is in the present, I nonetheless found myself interested.  This is largely thanks to Brubaker bringing in the villains.

With Doom, Red Skull, and their henchman stomping about, getting their way, and generally acting like the cackling, arrogant villains that they are, these present day portions have a vitality that they’ve lacked through much of Reborn.  It’s always fun to see some of the Marvel Universe’s bad guy power players in the same room at once and Skull and Doom have long been two of the most bombastic of the lot.  Better still, their direct involvement in Reborn provides the miniseries with the specific, pointed adversaries needed to add fuel to the narrative’s conflict; they’re more tightly linked and unique to this struggle over Rogers, as opposed to Osborn, who is everybody’s bad guy these days.

Meanwhile, Rogers’ portions continue to be strong, channeling that sense of torment and entrapment that’s worked so well thus far.  Though it’s still scaled back from, say, issue 2, that doesn’t mean that what’s here isn’t enjoyable.

Overall, this feels just as a blockbuster, widescreen mainstream comic should.  It’s got action, it’s big, it’s loud, and it has those diabolical villains, all of it leading to a great ending that’s sure to leave you hankering for issue five.

Hitch and Guice’s work on art once again works fairly well, magically channeling much of the style and spirit of the late 80s, early 90s while nonetheless retaining that layer of modern gloss and polish.  The Cap flashback scenes are especially fantastic, with one rainy WWII-era scene being an absolutely gorgeous reflection of the misery it’s meant to reflect.

What’s Not So Good: Despite this being and generally good-looking book, I couldn’t help but feel the artwork to be a little inconsistent in style and execution.  Several panels look to be drawn by different hands, and it can be a little weird.  With the art already meant to shift to accommodate the flashbacks, these inconsistencies only help the make the book feel a little chaotic at times in terms of style.

I also felt that while the villains were great, the scenes with Richards, Pym, and Vision felt a bit weaker.  They’re just not as interesting as they could’ve been and barring one hypothesis by Richards, it just perpetually feels like they’re one step behind the comic and the reader.

Conclusion: Despite its underwhelming start, Brubaker has really turned Reborn around.

Grade: B+

-Alex Evans