Thursday, March 08, 2007


Captain America, 1941-2007

Well, Marvel Comics' red-white-and-blue Boy Scout bit the dust in issue #25 of his book , released Wednesday.

The incident was partly a ramification of the "Civil War" storyline that took over Marvel since last summer, and touched upon some of the real world's war on terror/"freedom vs. security" debates .

In the final issue of that series, the anti-super hero registration superheroes led by Captain America were on the brink of defeating Iron Man's pro-registration squad. At the last moment, Cap noticed the city-wide destruction that the battle was causing, called an end to hostilities and surrendered.

On the way to arraignment in federal court (for violating the registration act), an unmasked Steve Rogers is shot down, thus setting off the latest turn of events. This being the comic book world, however, are things exactly what they seem? I have to admit, even by the standards of the medium, as death "scenes" go, this one had wiggle room large enough for a Mack truck to get through. Still, according to Marvel, it will be a while -- if ever -- before the Steve Rogers Captain America re-appears.

However, that hasn't stopped the real-world media from playing this story very big.

New York's Daily News had a big banner headline on Page 3 yesterday, "Captain America Killed." While The Washington Post takes something of a tongue-in-cheek approach, the Daily News quotes the current Cap writer in a rather serious observation:
Series writer Ed Brubaker - who grew up reading Captain America comics while his father, a naval intelligence officer, was stationed on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba - said it wasn't easy to kill off the character. The 40-year-old, however, wanted to explore what the hero meant to the country in these polarized times.

"What I found is that all the really hard-core left-wing fans want Cap to be standing out on and giving speeches on the streetcorner against the Bush administration, and all the really right-wing [fans] all want him to be over in the streets of Baghdad, punching out Saddam," Brubaker said.
Captain America was created just months before the United States of America entered World War II -- a living symbol of a nation's ideals and unified vision of freedom.

The story in Captain America #25 is entitled "The Death of The Dream." Sure, it's only a comic book story, but occasionally pop culture has the power to provoke an examination of larger, real-world truths.

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