Friday, March 23, 2007
Captain America Dead Again (for now)
It's been two weeks since Captain America was assassinated and at time of writing he's still dead. The death of the American super-soldier has been widely reported in the press, from the fictional newspaper the Daily Bugle (in reality a promotional freesheet for Marvel Comics) to the BBC News website.
It all makes for an entertaining story of course and hopefully sells comics to people who wouldn't normally buy Captain America. The issue where he pegs out is currently commanding high prices on eBay to speculators who think it'll appreciate in value in years to come. Maybe it would... if this situation was unique. What most media sources haven't mentioned, (preferring to run the PR piece without research), is that the Star Spangled Avenger has "died" at least twice before and returned no worse for wear.
For those who haven't followed recent events in the Marvel Universe, after a mission by a group of young superheroes goes tragically wrong, killing numerous civilians, the US government introduces the Superhero Registration Act. Basically this requires all superheroes to register with the government. The act fragments the superhero community into a "Civil War", leading to lots of excuses for Marvel to have comics showing heroes fighting each other.
Captain America, defender of liberty, is against the act, which eventually leads to fatal consequences for him. Although mainly a fight-fest designed to shift comics, the Civil War storyline has provided an interesting analogy to the real US Patriot Act and overall has been one of Marvel's better story arcs. (One interesting aspect has been the characterization of Tony Stark, Iron Man, developing him into a manipulative pro-registration character. One would imagine this would contradict his 40 year history, yet on reflection it all seems to fit.)
At the conclusion of Civil War Captain America surrenders when he realizes he's no longer representing what the people want. This led to outraged fanboys on the internet claiming "Cap's no quitter", ignoring the fact that the character had "quit forever" twice over the years, if not more. (See samples above.)
Anyway, Cap is currently dead. I say currently because we all know he'll be back. Marvel aren't going to let a property like Cap or his alter ego Steve Rogers fade out of copyright. Cap's "died" before, albeit only for a few issues. This time they'll drag it out longer, but, like Superman's "death" 12 or so years ago, nothing's ever final in superhero comics. (And if the Captain America movie gets the green light he'll definitely be back by then.)
After skipping a month (out of respect?) the Captain America comic returns in May to focus on the comics' supporting characters. So far this new run of Captain America (currently up to issue 25) by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting has been the best handling of the character in decades. The early issues from their run are currently being reprinted in Panini's Marvel Legends monthly, available from newsagents.