Monday, April 23, 2007

The Death Of Captain America

Written by Altjiranga Mitjina

“Every country has the government it deserves”

- Joseph de Maistre

By now everyone has seen it. It was page one material last month when it first came out. What am I talking about? Captain American #25. By now most of you have probably seen the now familiar panel from the issue of Captain America lying on the court house steps bleeding. The issue sold out the day it went on sale which made it difficult to find and get hold of a copy. Marvel Comics has just published a second printing of the comic this last week. I was unable to score a copy of the comic when it first came out, but this time when I was at my local comic book shop I saw an copy of the 2nd printing sitting on the racks and decided to give it a look.

For a brief recap of what is going on: This issue follows the end of the top selling Civil War mini series. In this mini series the Marvel Heroes are faced with the task of registering their identity and their role as a hero with the United States Government. Some heroes do so willingly, others decide that this act is a violation of what they represent. Captain America is one of the heroes that decides that he cannot register with the government. Thus follows a big fight that goes on for most of the issues of the mini series between the two sides until it comes to an end on the streets of New York City when Captain America realizes that both sides have ended up fighting each other more for the sake of the fight and a careless attitude of who gets hurt. He surrenders to the authorities who take him into custody.

This is where the issue of Captain America opens. With him being transferred from jail to the courthouse for his arraignment. While doing the perp walk he is shot and supposedly killed.

Lots of attention over a comic book character you might think. There’s lot of real people dying that don’t get the type of attention that this fictional hero got. After the loss of all those lives at Virginia Tech it seems to be kind of silly to be getting all hot and bothered over the death of a make believe character.

Yet I believe we are defined in some sense by our fictional heroes as well as those of flesh and blood. Who we are is reflected in the actions of these larger than life characters that we give life to on paper or on the big screen.

Captain America stood for truth and justice and an America that was a land for everyone. In Frontline, a companion comic to the main Civil War series, Cap is chided for not knowing what My Space is, for not being up on who the hot new singer is, for not knowing how to google for an answer; in other words for being old fashioned and out of date. Cap stood for his principles and when he realized that he was not following them like he should he was willing to stand down and face the consequences of his actions.

In today’s marketplace the hero is sometimes not much better than the villain he faces. Too often the hero is as quick to shoot first and ask questions later than to try and reason out an answer.

We live in age where the anti-hero is all the rage, where dark and gritty is the preferred story telling device. Captain American reflected a man who was a Hero and who stood in the light. His stories did not sell, his brand of Hero is not what we are looking for today. So they have to kill him.

Will he be back? This is comic books, no one dies forever in these tales of four colors. But before the true man behind the mask is back we will probably see a version of Captain America that is closer to Wolverine and the darkness of the human soul than the optimistism he once stood for.

As a country we may get the government we deserve, but as a country maybe we get the heroes we deserve also.


Surviving Motherhood said...

"Captain American reflected a man who was a Hero and who stood in the light. His stories did not sell, his brand of Hero is not what we are looking for today. So they have to kill him."

"As a country we may get the government we deserve, but as a country maybe we get the heroes we deserve also."

Well, there's food for thought. I'm off to go and ruminate on this a little. Thank you for this thought provoking post.

Travis said...

Nicely done my friend.

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