Having been given a £15 gift voucher for Christmas for WH Smith I finally set about finding something that I actually wanted to exchange it for today. I did briefly consider drawing supplies, and some cookery books, but eventually settled on Captain America: Reborn from Marvel/Titan.
The majority of the book contains the reprints of the Marvel mini series of the same name by Ed Brubaker, Bryan Hitch and Jackson “Butch” Guice. It tells a fairly straightforward story of the resurrection of Captain America and attendant conflicts. Honestly, it is not so much what the book does as how it does it that makes it worth considering.
For me the main selling point is Bryan Hitch. Now, I feel that Guice is perhaps not the best inker for him (I will go on record here as saying Paul Neary is the best inker for him, and Alan Davis, and probably umpteen other artists) and there are places (particularly on smaller panels and characters) where more of Guice’s style is visible than Hitch’s, but the art is lovely. This is Hitch doing his widescreen thing, perhaps not to the same insane level as when paired with Millar or Ellis, but bringing moments of action to visceral life and making static images dynamic and genuinely exciting. More than this, and this is as much Brubaker as it is Hitch and perhaps even some synthesis between the two, characters have distinct body language and posing. There is a point where you can tell who is in a costume (not to spoil too much of the plot) simply by the way the character is posed and stood. The acting and body language of the characters here is top notch.
Brubaker is not redundant here. As much as I do love Hitch, it is Brubaker’s balancing of the quiet character driven moments with the bombast of the action scenes he calls on Hitch to draw that makes the book work. Yes, it is widescreen comics, but Brubaker ensures the characters have distinct voices and all the main ones have important plot moments, in order to keep the interest going and make me actually care what is happening. Perhaps he doesn’t quite reach the scale of Millar, but he does cover a lot of ground and keeps the book exciting and something I actually care about.
At the end of the book is a gallery of all the Captain America covers from his first silver age appearance through to issue 600. Reproduced at smaller than postage stamp size, it is a lesson in what makes for a strong and noticeable cover. Bluntly: most of them aren’t. The Mike Zeck, Steranko, Cassady and Garney covers tend to stand out nicely. The rest all kind of blur together. And whatever happen to John Ney Reiber anyway?