The Death Of An IconWith the release of Captain America #25, Steve Rogers is no more. He didn’t die saving the world, or keeping the Red Skull spewing forth his hate upon America, or even rescuing a comrade or loved one. He died from a sniper shot while leaving a courthouse of the trial for his part in Marvel Comics Civil War. Is this Marvel fading Captain America into the night or the start of something big?
Whatever happens, this story has already gotten a media blitz of attention. CNN, MSNBC, USA Today, and many others are clamoring about the death of this comic book legend. Co-Creator Joe Simon is quoted as having said about the character when learning of his death, "We really need him now." Other’s have taken a more satirical look at the choice to kill the character, such as this UGO article about what characters should have died instead. (Be warned, there is some foul language.)
Nobody Really Dies in ComicsIt has been a long running joke in comic books that if and when a character dies, they will undoubtedly be resurrected. If we take a look at who has died and come back, just from the Marvel Universe, you get a pretty big list comprised of but not limited to:
Now I know some of these characters didn’t actually die, some were thought to be dead, only to be revealed later that they were whisked away by an alien race or never truly died in the first place, but the fact that on some level, these characters and more were revealed to have died in the pages of a comic book, only to be resurrected or brought back to life some other way.
In a recent interview with CBR, writer Ed Brubaker remarked about the return of Captain America, “…I've got the next two years of Cap plotted, if that says anything.” Now whether this means that someone else will take over the Captain America mantle or that Steve Rogers will return (one can hope) remains to be revealed.
My TakeI understand the need to tell compelling stories in comic books, as well as relating them to today’s world to make them relevant and to help people identify with and relate to their characters. We want to care about our characters, and most comic book fans do. When Hal Jordan bought the big one (he is back though, do you see a pattern?) and Kyle Rayner took over, there was a huge uproar from many core Green Lantern fans. So much that they formed a coalition named H.E.A.T. (Hal’s Emerald Advancement Team). Looks like they got their wish. Hal is back in the saddle again.
I don’t know if I’ve gotten cynical about the whole thing, but when I heard that Captain America had been killed, I didn’t really have a strong emotional response. It was more like, “Well it’s only a matter of time before they bring him back.” I guess comic books in general have lost a lot of their credibility when it comes to character death. I know that if the current writer doesn’t bring back the character, then another writer will surely bring that character back one way or another.
That comic book companies continue to do so is interesting, and begs the question as to why they think that this ploy still resonates with audiences. If the media frenzy and probably upcoming sales of Captain America are any indication, it is because it still does, maybe not from a deep seated heart wrenching feeling on connectedness with the characters, but probably more from the rubbernecking kind of curiosity we all have when we hear of something bad happening. We just want to see how it pans out.
What NextKnowing writer Brubaker, who has handled the Captain America property quite well, we are in for an interesting tale. In the same CBR interview mentioned before, Brubaker states, “I've been planning something along these lines ever since I brought back Bucky.” It seems this story has been brewing with Brubaker for quite some time.
Fortunately, I have faith that the upcoming two year long storyline will result in a good Captain America tale. One thing I would bet on is that Steve Rogers will not remain in the grave. I just hope it’s soon and that he isn’t a zombie. That would be bad.