With Captain America: Reborn due in comic stores on Wednesday, we ask: Have Marvel Comics kept the secret to the star-spangled Avenger's resurrection in plain sight all along? We look at our suspecting method of resurrection. Potential-spoilery speculation ahead.
One of the things that keeps popping up when writer Captain America writer Ed Brubaker and editor Tom Brevoort talk about Reborn is that bringing Steve Rogers back has always been part of the plan. As Brubaker told MTV,
There was never any thought on my side that we wouldn't bring him back, so it's not like there was ever a fight about it...I only killed him with the intention of bringing him back.
Brevoort has echoed this, and said something that caught our attention:
We've been planning the story of Cap's return virtually from the moment that he died... 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.
Assorted seeds? Sounded like a reason to re-read the issues to us. But when we did, we realized that not only was that statement true, but that we were all idiots for not realizing what was going on first time around.
Let's start at the end, shall we? Steve Rogers' end, that is. We've known since the issue after he was shot that all was not as it seemed when it came to Cap's "death." After all, what kind of gunshot wound results not only in death, but in this?
In the same issue, main series villain the Red Skull meets with one of his minions, onetime Nazi scientist turned robot Arnim Zola, to discuss a recent acquisition from fellow evil mastermind Doctor Victor Von Doom:
See where we're going already? Don't worry. It'll become more obvious.
As the storyline's main thrust - which sees the Skull attempt to bring about America's downfall through capitalism and democracy while former sidekick and former brainwashed-assassin Bucky Barnes take over the role of Captain America to stop him - continues, the villains fall out, as tends to happen in these cases. One of the reasons for their rift? The treatment of their prisoner, and Steve Rogers' ex-girlfriend, Sharon Carter... who has a mysterious purpose that we only get hints about more than a year after Rogers' death:
What's that about a "platform"...? Well, here's where we take a slight leap of faith, but not an incredibly unlikely one. We know, after all, that Zola has been working on technology involving time travel from Doctor Doom, so we're guessing that he's talking about Doctor Doom's Time Platform, a Marvel Comics mainstay since 1963's Fantastic Four #5. But what's does this have to do with Sharon (or Steve Rogers, for that matter)? Later in the same issue - #41, for those of you out there who really want to know - the other side of the villainous rift, evil psychiatrist Dr. Faustus, talks to Sharon and spills the beans:
"The Constant"? To a generation of Lost fans, that phrase means only one thing: Desmond and Penny. So, if Sharon is Penny, then surely that means that Steve Rogers is, somehow, lost in time. Let's take another sideways trip off Memory Lane and look at Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five for a second, which has been cited as an influence on Lost's episode "The Constant". Mr. Vonnegut, would you please explain to the class what Billy Pilgrim learned about death in the classic novel?
The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die... All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist... It is an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.
What if the reason Steve Rogers' body shriveled up wasn't because he was dead, but because his soul had been ripped out of it, and sent bouncing around time without any control? After all, the recent Captain America #600 revealed that he hadn't been shot by a regular gun...
But without a body to come back to - and that body is gone, let's face it - what could Steve Rogers come back to? Well, let's look and see what happened when the Red Skull and Zola tried to use the still-unexplained device:
Oh, Sharon, if only you hadn't destroyed the machine at the point where the whole thing was going to be explained to us...
To add some fuel to our fire, you have Captain America: Reborn editor Tom Brevoort revealing more than he probably meant to in a Marvel.com interview:
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.
A metaphysical journey like being trapped in time and forced to relive his life, perhaps? Such a journey would give Steve Rogers - when he returns - a new view on life as Captain America, new readers a chance to get acquainted with the character's possibly daunting backstory, and the preview pages we've seen from the first issue to be less straight-up flashback and more involved in the actual story than initially thought.
If our guess about exactly what's been going on is correct, of course. For all we really know, Steve Rogers has just had amnesia after waking up on the mortuary slab and swapping his body with a handy melting clone all those months ago...
Captain America: Reborn #1 is released on July 1st. Feel free to come back and tell me when I'm shown to be horribly wrong.