Friday, March 09, 2007

Slightly More Termite (Sequential) Art: The "Death" Of Captain America

From the partner-in-crime:

The Death of Captain America is on the front page of the NY Times website right now. I need your sage commentary on the significance of this.

I would have loved to write a whole addendum to my original post on this, but this hasn't been the week to do it, I'm just too busy. But briefly...

First of all: either the American news media are total idiots or Wednesday was the slowest news day in the history of the free press. Listen very closely:

Captain America is not dead.

He looks dead. He sounds dead. He probably smells dead. But he is alive. Or he will be. I've got the over/under on his return at eighteen months right now, and I'm feeling very generous. Disco is dead. Captain America is just taking a little nap.

Now, if this sort of event hadn't happened before, you couldn't fault the media for reporting it. It sounds, however superficially, kind of interesting. Captain America, one of the few true patriotic symbols our country has in literary form, dies. Big deal, right? People would probably want to know about this. That makes it sort of news. Fair enough.

But don't these people remember November of 1992, when Superman was "killed" and every newspaper and 24-hour newschannel got up in arms and freaked out? People were legitimately surprised by that, and had a right to, he was freaking Superman for crying out loud. And DC really sold the hell out of that thing, and in the comic itself it seemed pretty conclusive. Superman got his ass just straight-up beat.

He was alive and well less than ten months later, basically the same dude, only now he had a mullet. So his fashion sense died, but Superman did not.

Unfortunately, whatever character it is is irrelevant. It happens all the time. No one in comics stays dead. No one. It was a big deal when Marvel Comics killed Jean Grey a.k.a. The Phoenix, in the pages of 1980's Uncanny X-Men #137, sacrificing herself so that the power that was consuming her wouldn't cause anyone else any harm.

She stayed dead until 1986, when she was discovered by the Avengers in a cocoon at the bottom of the ocean in Avengers #263. Turned out she'd never died at all, an alien had taken her place. She's actually dead right now though, for real, and has been for about two years, but, again, probably not for too much longer.

Her compatriot Colossus died a few years back, and the editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics, Joe Quesada, PROMISED he was dead and staying dead. He had this whole editorial edict: if you're dead, you're dead. Period.

Colossus is currently appearing monthly in Astonishing X-Men.

The DC Comics hero Green Arrow, a character with no super-powers other than really good aim, was blown up by a bomb, died. He was atomized. Poof.

Still, he found a way to come back to life — it involved demons and heaven and some help from his buddy Hal Jordan, who used to be Green Lantern, then died, became another hero called The Spectre, then came back to life and is now Green Lantern again.

In the entire history of super-hero comics, three prominent characters have stayed dead: Bucky (Cap's old teen sidekick from WWII, who died at the end of WWII saving Cap and the world from a deadly rocket), the second Robin, Jason Todd (Killed by a bomb planted by the Joker), and Uncle Ben, the guy whose death inspires Peter Parker to become Spider-Man.

And guess what: in the last two years, two of the three (Bucky and Jason Todd) came back to life, and the third one sort of did too (someone who looks like Uncle Ben is currently running around the pages of the surprisingly decent Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man).

You don't even have to be a hero. Peter Parker's beloved Aunt May died in a very emotional issue of Amazing Spider-Man. Aunt May was just an old lady; really she was frailer than an orphan in a Dickens novel.

And even SHE came back to life! And she just got shot AGAIN! Or dear...I hope she'll pull through! Eek!

I sound really mad, but I'm not. It just cracks me up. Death means nothing in comics. Nothing. Death is like the coffee break room of comics; head in there, smoke a butt, drink a Coke, take a load off for a half hour, and then boom you're back on the clock. Captain America will be back. Sooner than you think.

Oh wait, I just read Civil War: The Initiative #1, released the same week as Captain America#25, the book where Cap bites it. Here's some dialogue (all bolds are theirs):

Spider-Woman: Captain America is dead. Now tell me again what you're doing.
Ms. Marvel: He's not.
Spider-Woman: What?
Ms. Marvel: He's not.
Spider-Woman: You're lying.
Ms. Marvel: He's tucked away safe on the Raft. No one knows. No one. They're trying to save his life even as we speak.

Repeating our top story: CAPTAIN AMERICA IS NOT DEAD. We now return you to our regularly scheduled movie nerd talk.

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