Monday, October 19, 2009

Captain America's funeral: Heartbreaking. Tragic. And yet really familiar...

So, the other day I re-read Punisher/Captain America: Blood & Glory, a three-issue prestige miniseries from 1992. Klaus Janson's art carries it, but D.G. Chichester turns in a right fine story as well. But one moment--well, more than one, we'll come back to it--stuck with me: the bad guys put together some evidence framing Cap, then get it to the Punisher, so Frank shoots him. (Just like he shot Nick Fury, but in Frank's defense, apparently he can shoot good guys and they'll be OK.) Cap's hurt, but he'll live; but he tells Nick Fury to let him die. As far as anyone knows.

Cap plays dead to go undercover, which lasts about nine pages before he's recognized. He's even recognized out of uniform, more than once. But that scene seemed familiar...
(Picture taken from USA Today, since I couldn't find the issue with the actual funeral.) OK, like Cap's most recent funeral, where he was 100%, absolutely, positively, irrevocably dead. Until he wasn't.

For his funeral in the classic "the strange death of captain america" Cap was faking again, this time to re-establish his secret identity. Which he then kept and fiercely protected, until he didn't. (From Captain America #112, "as reported by Lee-Steranko-Palmer-Simek.")

Now, this time Cap may have been kinda dead: frozen in a block of ice again, this time to buy time for the Red Skull to stop Cap's degenerating Super-Soldier Serum; so the Skull can use Cap in a gambit to claim the Cosmic Cube. And the whole issue reads faster than that last sentence, and I mean that in a good way. (Of course! It's Captain America #445, "Operation: Rebirth, chapter one: Old Soldiers Never Die" Written by Mark Waid, pencils by Ron Garney, inks by Scott Koblish.)

This time, Captain America was supposedly killed in an explosion--OK, a really big explosion, a small town blown up by a Nazi suicide cult--but why Cap allowed everyone to believe he was dead isn't really clear, except to get a grim-as-hell miniseries set in South America and then a new first issue out of the deal. (The credit box is right there! But it's from Captain America #50, "Stars & Stripes Forever" Written by Evan Dorkin, art by Kevin Maguire; and I would not have minded at all if they had done a ton more Cap stories.)

Is Cap's grave marker giving the thumbs up?...I'd kinda like that.
OK, now that's a What If? so it doesn't strictly count, but still. From #26, "What If Captain America had been elected president?" Written by Mike W. Barr, art by Herb Trimpe and Mike Esposito.

So, let's see here: we've got funerals from 1968, 1981 (with an asterisk, the What If?) 1992, 1995, 2002, and 2007. And while three of them are completely faked, with Cap's complicity; his friends grieve for real each time. I for one would be pretty damn thrilled to have the Thing as a pallbearer, but I think I'd just be happy to have more than one funeral...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is that President Clinton as a pallbearer in CA#445?