Wednesday, March 07, 2007

death of a hero

I'm surprised but not overly upset to hear about the death of Captain America (wiki). I've only ever read a smattering of his comics, although I am very interested in check out The Winter Soldier story from a year or two ago. But generally speaking I'm familiar with the character like most of the rest of you probably are. He is a pop culture icon. He was the first real hero for Marvel, and an obvious answer to DC's Superman. Especially as a Canadian, I was never super into Captain America's perceived politics. I say perceived, because from what I can tell Captain America truthfully has not ever been a real reflection of the national politics of America, but more of the people. Oh sure he fought Nazis and probably hated the Communists like everyone, but from the samplings I've read, most of which are fairly recent, Captain America stands for what's really best about the country: it's people, and it's ideals. I know in the Ultimate line of books, which I love, Captain America has even talked openly about not agreeing with many of the governments policies. This is the Captain America that I enjoy, the Captain America I respect. But am I representative? Not really...

In this article C.A. series writer Ed Brubaker touches on the current dichotomy of character when he said that "hard-core left-wing fans want Cap to be standing out on and giving speeches on the streetcorner against the Bush administration, and all the really right-wing [fans] all want him to be over in the streets of Baghdad, punching out Saddam." If Captain America stands for, or can be considered a metaphor for, the people; then by his nature he, and the series must be in a very conflicted state. Maybe killing Cap for the time being is the only way to avoid alienating part of the fan base. Or maybe they wanted to make a comment about the state of the world, and America's role in it. Cause it definitely is a powerful message to have this symbol killed. But I'm not sure it actually helps anything. What do we learn from Captain America's death? And who's going to pick up the pieces?

I'd like to see Marvel continue the Captain America series, for a while at least. Show the fallout of this event, show what happens. I suspect they will, assuming they follow the path set out by The Death of Superman storyline. And while I think it might be really interesting if they let this series lie for a time. I expect them to bring it, and Captain America back into action soon enough. Consequence is a funny thing in comics. Heroes deal with it so often, but we as readers all know that lasting change almost never comes. Heck, I'm currently reading The Life and Death of Captain Marvel, one of their greatest characters ever, whose poignant death from cancer heralded the origin of the modern graphic novel. But as of Civil War, even he couldn't be left in peace. With Marvel finally cutting through the legal red tape, and looking to gear up for a Captain America movie, and sporting an Avengers movie in their designs can we really expect the hero not to return?

I encourage Marvel to really let Captain America rest, allow this to resonate through their comics, and in the community. His death now is of course significant, but not by much if we aren't faced with the consequences. But leaving him dead; now that would be brave, and that message might have some true meaning.

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