Thursday, March 08, 2007

Oh my god, they killed Captain America! You bastards!

I appreciate for some people that the only thing less exciting than me talking about curling is me talking about comic books. However, since I talked a lot about curling a couple of weeks ago, I'll use some restraint and not talk about Newfoundland's resurgence at the Brier, the ice conditions and the general lack of people showing up at the games.

Instead, I'll talk about the death of Captain America.

Yeah, if you didn't hear about it, Captain America died yesterday. It was big enough news, and certainly layer with enough unsubtle symbolism that most of the major news outlets ran pieces on it. It had been hard time for the good Captain. Marvel Comics just concluded a major event called Civil War, which pitted heroes against heroes over whether or not they ought to be registered with the government. The Captain opposed it, his side basically lost and he turned himself in.

Then, in the issue of his comic which hit stores yesterday, he's assassinated by a sniper when heading to the court house to be arraigned. In the promo copy for comics coming in the next couple of weeks Marvel is very much trying to sell the idea that he's dead, with an autopsy taking place.

The reason that Marvel is trying to really sell the idea that Captain America is dead is that no one who is a comic book fan actually believes it. There are already sites predicting how long he's actually going to stay dead. It ranges from about three months to a year. Some are saying a couple of years. Virtually no one believes the death is permanent.

There's good reason for this. Death in comic books is a dubious racket. Superman died, came back. Jean Grey (Phoenix from the X-Men) has died and come back so many times it's a joke. And even recent Marvel Comics history shows three characters who were believed to have been untouchable brought back from the dead, in a manner of speaking.

There's Ben Parker, Peter Parker's uncle, the one who had to die to teach Peter that "with great power comes great responsibility." To be fair, while I haven't read the books lately, I think this Ben comes from an alternate reality, so I'm not sure if that counts (its comic books, of course there are alternate realities.) Then there was Captain Marvel, who died of cancer back in the 80s. Then again, he was resurrected so much as "plucked from the time stream before he died." Which is weird even for comic books.

Both of those resurrections were met with reactions that ranged from "huh?" to threats to fly to New York and burn Marvel Comics to the ground.

The other big controversy actually came from the page of Captain America about two years ago. The Captain used to have a sidekick named Bucky. Ever since the early 60s it's been written that Bucky died at the end of WWII. And yet, he was brought back. There were more cries of outrage when it happened, and yet, most fans now agree that it's worked really well.

The same writer that pulled that off, Ed Brubaker, just killed Captain America. He's considered one of the best in the business, so he might actually be able to pull something interesting out of this.

It's also worth noting that Marvel Comics and the creator of Captain America, Joe Simon, were involved in a legal dispute over the rights of the character a few years ago. I thought it was settled, but maybe not. Maybe opted to kill him because of a rights issue.

Or, you know, maybe they were trying to make a dramatic point about the state of America right now. Yeah, right....

For the curious, here's and interview with Brubaker on how the decision to kill Captain American came about and what it means.

1 comment:

Jason said...

If it was anyone but Brubaker I would be skeptical if the story would be good but his Cap tales are a must read of perfect modern comic story telling. I have three volumes of his Cap stories and they are great.His Daredevil and X-men runs are good as well. Also Stephen Colbert will be addressing Cap's death on his show on Thursday night.