Thursday, March 08, 2007

I didn't make it to the comic shop today, but who needs to when I can read CNN instead? Actually, despite his warnings, I went ahead and clicked Bully's tribute since I recognized the top half of the cover. I'm not gonna waste a lot of time on 'spoiler warnings,' since I know I'm not the first site you check, but we're talking the current issue of Captain America today, OK? I'm trying to string together my thoughts, since there is a lot to chew on here.
Who would have thought I'd become nostalgic for the caretaker editorial reign of Tom Defalco?

The first thing that came to mind wasn't "nuh-uh," or "how could Quesada?" or "he'll be back." The first thing I thought of was, Captain America #351, where during a press conference the John Walker Captain America is shot and killed...for three issues, his death faked so John could take Cap's interim black costume and become the USAgent.

Cap--the real Cap, Steve Rogers--also 'died' in his last issue before his Marvel Knights series--allegedly blown up by terrorists. And as Bully points out, he also was believed dead in Captain America #444--the Super-Soldier serum gave out. So most comic fans are pretty secure in the knowledge that Steve Rogers will be OK.

Or will he? There's always room for that nagging little doubt, that maybe this time the change will be permanent, and Bucky will become the new Captain America, forever and ever amen.
Ah, if only all this could be blamed on Rick Jones...hmm, I typed 'Rick James' the first time there. Well, blame him too.
Granted, that kind of permanent change seems pretty unlikely, but suppose this brings in the readers by the droves? (Others have probably debated this point, but while the major news outlets' spoiler is a bit of asshattery to the regular reader; to Quesada/Marvel/comics in general it very well could be worth pissing off the hardcore fans to bring in the new blood.) Let's say, hypothetically, Marvel triples it's sales for Captain America #25. That could just be the gimmick, fine. Now let's suppose the sales for #26 with Captain Bucky are just as good, or better, and the sales stay good. Would Marvel bring back Cap, or leave him lay?

Also, why bother to bring Steve back, since he's still there? In the Ultimate Universe, in the Marvel Adventures universe, probably in at least one flashback story a month...Marvel absolutely has it's cake (the dramatic story possibilities of Cap's demise and replacement) and gets to eat it too (Captain America adventures, with less baggage, in at least two other books). This does lead to the kind of confusion DC used to have (and is returning to...) with Earth-1 through Q, but I think the modern reader can take it.

Some people probably hate this sort of publicity, but can you think of another form of entertainment that could get away with this? The first example that came to mind would be if Susan Lucci's Erica Kane character on All My Children was shot and written out; all done the week after a major storyline supposedly wrapped. Maybe that's not the best example, since I think most people would be as dubious of a major character's 'death' in the soaps as comics fans are now.

That said, I'm not 100% supportive of this, either. In fact, I would have much preferred Cap go out fighting, and not sniped on a perp walk. War Journal notwithstanding, if the Punisher is the sniper, that would be a spectacularly bad idea. It would absolutely make a lasting mess of both Cap and the Punisher. Doesn't anyone remember Over the Edge, where Frank killed Nick Fury? (Admittedly, if you had pushed that one out of your head, I wouldn't have blamed you.) Fury was 'dead' for a while and poor Frank well on his way to being radioactive for a few years, until Ennis put him back on his feet.

I really doubt Steve Roger's is going to end up as Ronin. Too obvious. Also, from the solicits for Fallen Son, Wolverine doesn't buy that Cap's dead. Ironic, since he bought Fury's death during Over the Edge: when he pays his respects at Fury's funeral, the surviving Howlers realize he's not coming back. Well, the joke was on them, I suppose. (From a Peter David Hulk issue.)

I really, really disagree with Quesada's quote: "He hasn't been living in the modern world and the world does move." Not knowing who won American Idol or having a MySpace page also shouldn't be a black mark on Cap's character. Some things are going to be right, and some things are going to be wrong, whether you're from the 40's, the 70's, or now. And unless you can bounce a metal shield off three A.I.M. scientists' heads while punching MODOK in his giant face, I don't think you can throw stones at Cap for not being the kind of guy to give a rat's ass about trivia questions when the fate of the free world is at stake.

I thought Brubaker had a more interesting comment (that I hopefully won't mangle here) about how the right-wing wanted Cap in Iraq fighting insurgents, while the left-wing wanted Cap making speeches about how the U.S. shouldn't even be there. Interesting, but I don't see Cap as a finger-pointer: even if he didn't think the U.S. should be there, by this point there would be little choice but to fix the situation as it stands. The question would be, how much could Cap do, and how much would the Iraqi people, and Iraqi insurgents, let him do? Or the U.S. military, for that matter: would they want to risk the nightmare of Captain America, killed by a roadside bomb? I'm not 100% convinced Cap, or any superhero character, belongs in a story about Iraq, but there could be something there.

So, I'm not going to blow a lotta smoke about quitting all Marvel comics or how Quesada should be pilloried or bet my entire collection Cap'll be back by July Fourth of some year. I was pretty unsure about Mark Gruenwald's replacement Captain storyline, way back in the day, as well. This story's got some potential on several different levels, and I'm willing to give it a little rope to see how it does.

One last thing: I hate the image of Cap's shield, with bullet holes in it. Cap might be shot, but the shield's indestructible. It probably came down to a choice between bullet holes or blood stains, though...

Cap page from Captain America #351, "Changing of the Guard" Written by Mark Gruenwald, breakdowns by Kieron Dwyer, finishes by Allen Milgrom.

Cap-lok panels from Excalibur #14, "Too Many Heroes" Written by Chris Claremont, pencils by Alan Davis, inks by Paul Neary. Probably the funniest thing I've ever seen from Claremont.


The Fortress Keeper said...

That Quesada quote bugged me too, and then he had to top it off with "read the books!"

I can just picture the guy at home:

Mrs. Quesada: Dear, did you turn off the plasma TV in the bathroom!

JQ: Sorry, but for that answer I'm afraid you'll have to read the books!

ZC said...

I swear every time Quesada opens his mouth I want to choke him.

In lighter news, Ed Brubaker, thankfully, was at least given this story to write (though I have a feeling he had little say in it), so I have some hope it doesn't suck.