Friday, March 09, 2007

Old Soldiers Never Die—The “Death” of Captain America & The Loss of “Fun”

We here at FanBoyWonder had what you could call a funny reaction on Wednesday when we found out—via the online New York Daily News no less—that Marvel Comics had killed off Captain America.

“What?? First Starbuck, Now Cap?!?!”

In that moment we also realized just how out of touch we had become with the Marvel Universe as we had no earthly idea that this was coming.

We further realized that the “death” of Cap really left no doubt that the Marvel Universe we grew up with, that we knew and loved (though not quite as much as the DC Comics universe) is dead and gone…perhaps a long-time gone.

What we really loved about the Marvel Universe and what set it apart from the “Distinguished Competition” was that it was “real.” Its heroes were “real” with “real” problems living in “real” places—like New York City—no Metropolis, Gotham, Central, Keystone, Star or Opal cities here.
As a wee-little Fanboy visiting New York City, we would often look up half expecting to see Spidey web-swinging between the sky-scrapers.

We haven’t read Captain America (or nearly anything else Marvel) for a long time, but we still treasure our collection of Cap back issues.

Captain America is (no past tense here) to Marvel what Superman is to DC Comics, the noblest of all heroes and a positive force of good. Time and again we’ve seen Cap fight for the American Dream, not as a tool of the government.

Cap is a symbol but Steve Rogers, the man under the mask, represents all that is good and proud and noble about America. Don’t tell us that Cap is “just” a fictional character—he’s always been much bigger than that.

From the very first issue of Captain America Comics #1 in early 1941, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby set the tone as America’s Sentinel of Liberty is seen on the cover socking Adolph Hitler right in the jaw.

Mind you this was nearly a year BEFORE America’s entry into World War II and long before the discovery of Hitler’s death camps that confirmed his utter evil.

In the years since we last regularly read Cap and Marvel, somewhere along the way “real” that was Marvel’s hallmark and “dark” got confused. Pick up almost any Marvel book today—there’s a distinct lack of hope—just endless “event” driven conflict in the name of drama.

Make no mistake; we’re not saying that the DC Universe is perfect. Far from it—especially lately (Got Didio???) but despite themselves, the DCU (at least to us) still retains a sense magic and yes…hope.

The main difference we see between DC and Marvel currently is that—while both imperfect—DC seems to be more about telling stories (Judd Winick notwithstanding), while Marvel seems preoccupied with making a "statement."

But for now, we’re taking the events of Captain America #25 with a grain of salt. Unlike real life, in Comics, death is often not final—just ask Jean Grey, Superman, Green Goblin and Jason Todd. We even hear that poor ole Bucky was recently aroused from his decades-long dirt-nap.

Marvel can give Cap a new lease on life whenever it so desires. What we fear will be infinitely harder to reviving hope in the Marvel Universe. There was a time when these used to be called “funny books” …it’s time to have “fun” again.


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