Written by:  Ed Brubaker

Art by:  (various)

Published by:  Marvel Comics

The problem with Road to Reborn is that it is what it is:  filler.  It’s strictly a bridge between the Death of Captain America and his inevitable and unsurprising Reborn.  Which isn’t to say that there isn’t a lot of good in this collection, after all, Ed Brubaker is the writer:  he has not only made Captain America a relevant title, but a must read.  So being the stories between major arcs (the Reborn mini-series being pulled out of the regular comic’s run and given its own spotlight), this trade collects issues #49-50 and 600-601 (due to Marvel deciding to go back to their original numbering system rather than continuing with their rebooted series numbering.  Strictly coincidentally, that meant that Marvel got to do two back-to-back anniversary issues).

What the renumbering of Marvel’s titles hoped to do was create jump on points for new readers.  Going back to the original numbering made more sense because one gets a greater feel for the sheer about of continuity in the characters.  One example would be Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier/Captain America.  We have Bucky Barnes, the original Captain America’s one time side kick during World War II, who was used by the Soviet’s as an assassin (Winter Soldier), who eventually would become the new Captain America.  With Road to Reborn, Brubaker checks in on Bucky with a look at the character through the theme of missed birthdays.

There is also a look at Captain America during his World War II days as well as a clarification of Sharon Osborn’s relation to Cap’s World War II girlfriend Peggy (changed from sister to niece).  In issue 600, we see a celebration of Captain America on the anniversary of his death, a celebration co-opted by Norman Osborn.  It ends with Sharon telling Cap’s friends—the Falcon, Hawkeye, Luke Cage, Black Widow, et al, none of whom were in costume—that there was still a way to save Cap.

“There are just so many pieces of me missing these days…” –Sharon

At the heart of the Road to Reborn story is Sharon Carter:  a former agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., on again/off again girlfriend of Steve Rogers/Captain America, and the woman responsible for his death (used as his assassin).  She is “trapped in memories” and looking for a way to redeem herself as well as ameliorate her guilt. She is stuck in her regrets, the emotional core of the collection which almost gets lost.

It’s easy to get mired in guilt and shame.  Sadly, we don’t always have the luxury of making things up to folks. Fixing matters isn’t always an option: what’s done is done. Sometimes you just have to carry the weight of your bad decisions and selfishness and hopefully let them shape you into a better person. Even our mistakes have value, if it leads to a transformation of who you are and what you do.

“We do what we can.  We try to make things better in our own way.  That’s all anyone can do.” –Josh

Some people become stuck and need help to not suffer needlessly for the wrong reasons.  A counterfeit spirit and the Holy Spirit operate in similar ways.  The counterfeit spirit, our enemy, feeds us lies about ourselves, focuses on what’s wrong us, and heaps shame and condemnation on our heads.  We feel we must hide our dark core from everyone either from fear of being rejected or not wanting to drag anyone else down.  And we become mired in our own self-loathing.  The Holy Spirit wants us to dine on truth.  That we’re an image bearer of God, a beautiful creation.  Yes, we’re sinners, but there’s conviction, repentance, and redemption from that.  And freedom.

“In his place was born a new being, less a man than an ideal.  An inspirational symbol of the glory that is America.” –Steve Rogers

Road to Reborn is the quiet before the storm, strictly there to set up the action of the Reborn story.  And while it feels like every bit the pause that it is, there are still some great moments in it (including some art by Gene Colan, a pivotal artist/creator in Captain America’s history).  So while Brubaker does a good job with what he could, no storyline is advanced in particular and you can skip this and move on to Reborn without having missed much.