Last week, I speculated (fairly brazenly) about what might be revealed in Captain America #600 that was so big, Marvel were expecting the mainstream media to jump all over it. I speculated about movies, obscure character returns, and finally ended with a fairly tongue-in-cheek suggestion that “maybe they’ll just bring back Steve Rogers, with no extra frills.”
Hilariously, they didn’t even go that far.
The problem here is that, retailers, customers and fans had all been lead to believe that the newly-renumbered Captain America #600 would contain an event on a par with the death of Rogers from Captain America #25. It didn’t. In fact, it contained little more than an advert for Reborn, the series in which Captain America will actually come back. The purpose of the unprecedented early release Captain America #600, it seems, was actually just to give comic fans a chance to read the news in-story, rather than in a newspaper or on the BBC website first.
Retailers who had paid the extra shipping to get the issue in early, after Marvel heavily hinted that they might want to, were understandably upset. In itself, issue #600 has no extra interest to the mainstream. Not in the same way previous media events did, like the unmasking of Spider-Man, or the death of Captain America – or even the appearance of Barack Obama in a Spider-Man story. Marvel might be hoping that Cap #600 will, by failing to contain any big event, entice the same casual readers to pick up the continuation in Reborn #1, where the big event will occur. An interesting experiment if true, but far from a sure thing, and not something retailers should be burdened with the cost of supporting.
But enough about the delivery of the news, however botched it was or wasn’t – what about the reveal itself?
Again, it seems hardly worth the hype afforded it. Everyone in the industry has expected for years that, come the time of the movie, Steve Rogers would back under the mask. For that to happen, he first had to come back to life. And when you release a series entitled “Reborn” with a Captain America star as the only clue to the contents and the Captain America writer on the creative team, it didn’t take much to put two and two together.
Many fans, me included, were hoping that Bucky, Cap’s former sidekick, would remain in the role for years to come. We hoped that the events of Reborn would be something more unexpected. Admittedly, there’s still a lot to find out – where did Cap go, what was he doing, why has it taken so long for anyone to realise he wasn’t actually dead (or if he was, how he could be brought back) but the event in itself feels as though it’s coming too soon, at the expense of many possible good stories, rather than to create one.
James writes Alternate Cover every Monday at Den Of Geek. His previous column can be found here.