Thursday, March 08, 2007


When comic stores opened across America on Wednesday, the 7th of March, readers were unaware of the shocking moment they were about to bare witness too. Too often in comics, due to their nature, fanbase and the necessity to print weeks in advance to ensure delivery, secrets get out. Rarely are readers thrown an unexpected twist.

But this Wednesday was to be different. While all the focus was on Spider-Man Back In Black, or the brand new line-up for the Fantastic Four, no-one was watching Captain America. Why would they? At the end of Civil War he was remanded into custody on his own decision. His mask was in the hands of Punisher, and Steve Rogers, the man best know as the symbol of Truth, Justice and the American Way in Marvel comics, was under lock and key.

No-one saw this coming. There were no rumours. There were no leaks. There was just shock. In Issue 25 of the current run of Captain America, Steve Rogers received four gunshots to the torso that ultimately proved fatal.
The reaction has been incredible. CNN have done a piece on it, interviewing Marvel Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada, among others. Captain America co-creator Joe Simon, aged 93 years, has stated that he is shocked, and feels that Steve is needed more now than ever before.

Before reading the issue in question, I had my theories. It could have been ex-head of SHIELD, the now rogue Nick Fury and an LMD (Life Model Decoy). It could be a clone, a hologram, a trick to put Steve under-ground. And it still might be. When I read the issue and confirmed it for myself, I texted a few people I thought might have interesting opinions on the issue. Unanimously, the verdict from all (and I texted quite a few people) was, "meh. He'll be back within six months". And while I might argue the limited time-span, I can't argue the inevitability. That's why there's a question mark in this posts title!

Look at Colossus. Awesome death that held incredible meaning. Left for five years, and brought back. Captain Americas' boy sidekick, Bucky. Dead, dead, dead, until he returned as the Winter Soldier. Superman. Okay, we all knew that one was temporary. Not a chance they were going to off the Big Blue Boyscout. And don't get me started on Jean Grey!! Or any number of the X-Men. Wolverine and Cyclops are as bad. And Magneto?!? I remember someone once joking that his secondary mutation was an uncanny ability to die, but find the loophole to bring him back. Copies, fakes and "I got better" have all been used.

So why write about it? Why talk about something that even I have to agree will be thought of as "Hey, remember that time they actually tried to kill Captain America? Fun times, fun times..." Well, it's all in the telling.

Ed Brubaker has written a powerful tale of honour and glory, mixed through the mud of blood and sorrow. Discovery and loss, love and pain. He tells it with passion and grace. Even when I knew what was coming, turning the page and seeing it was still a shock. It was, pardon the expression, well executed. Steve's reaction was pure Steve. And I could feel the power of the moment coming off the page, especially as he began to slip away. Remember, I'm a bit of a fan of Captain America, so seeing this really hit me.

Of course, it's not all Eds work. The art of Steve Epting is fantastic. I haven't heard his name much before, but he really does this story justice. From the opening black'n'white to the closing, final image, he shows what he's made of.

So that's it. He's gone. And I have to admit, the Marvel Universe suddenly got just a little darker, a little scarier than it was yesterday. But I think Alan Moore said it best in the pages of Top Ten. I have to paraphrase, as the original text referred to a female, but here goes:

Eulogy for a Hero.

As we gather to remember the hero so nobly giving of his life so that others might live, merciful Lord, accept this, our brother, into thy bosom until such time as, in thy infinite wisdom, he may be cloned, reincarnated, or otherwise revived.
This we ask, in thy name.

Steve Rogers 1941-2007

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