Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Another Captain America rerun!

Someday, we'll look back on this and laugh. Unless I can repress this out of my skull, of course. Or you're a false memory. Maybe a Skrull...

Per the recent events in Civil War and his uncharacteristic mood swings, crying jags, and lapses in judgement, I'm worried about Captain America. (Aside from everything else, if you bring the Punisher on board you'd best make some allowances for people getting shot, Cap.) I'm wondering if Cap isn't coming down with one of my personal fears, Alzheimer's.

Everyone gives Cap the respect he's due for his World War II service, but that was only a relatively short part of his life. Say Steve Rogers received the Super-Soldier in 1940 (his first issue came out March 1941) and was frozen in 1945. Yet based on his comic appearances, flashbacks, newsreel footage, and Bucky-Related-Trauma, for Captain America WWII lasted thirty years and may in fact still be going.

(I get the same effect if I read a lot of Sgt. Rock comics in one sitting, with the added bonus of destroying what little geography I know: "Huh, Rock's in North Africa today? Easy was in Belgium last issue, so they must be pretty close, I guess...")

Earlier, I was thinking, 'why don't I scan more from the trades?' And the blocking here is the answer.
With so much going on, and the fact that new things seem to still be happening to Cap in WWII ("I've never met Wolverine before...oh, wait.") Cap could probably be excused for being a little fuzzy memory-wise. Then, if being frozen wasn't bad enough on his head, Cap also had some half-assed attempts at memory implants, placed so he would give false information if he was ever captured. Incidentally, when Cap has memories that don't line up right, he investigates, gets to the bottom of it, and restores his own memory. Wolverine? Cries about it for going on what, 30 years? I think Logan likes 'implanted memories' as an excuse: "Oh, eh, yeah...I never called 'cause I didn't think you were real, honey..."
I never had a middle name? Cheapass Depression-era parents.

Still, and there's only been the barest of lip-service paid to this: why Captain America and the Sub-Mariner didn't recognize each other, after they fought together in the Invaders for most of WWII. OK, Cap was only recently thawed out, and Namor only recently had been living as a drunken derelict. Fair enough. But why didn't anyone else say anything? After all, based on old issues of Captain America there was enough newsreel footage of Cap and Bucky for a year's worth of the History Channel. Neither Namor's men nor the rest of the Avengers mention it either, and you might think they would have read about it in history books or something.

Oh, Namor remembers Cap, he just doesn't like him.
Of course, the real reason is because the Invaders, while being an idea that makes perfect sense, was a retroactive addition. Cap can't very well remember things from WWII that the writers add today, which lifts the curtain on the illusion of continuity. But moreover, the Marvel Universe seems less supporting of this sort of graft or add-on: how many additions or secrets have been revealed about Batman's origin? Yet they seem less damaging, because the base is strong, and because the add-ons are always extraneous and easily ignored.

On the other hand, Cap's origin has been retconned to include Isaiah Bradley and Protocide and Weapon I and probably Nazi scientists, Skrulls, and the lost colony of Roanoke by now. The Marvel Knights series had two separate retcons: Cap fighting in an alternate Marvel universe where the Nazis won, before Cap ended up back in his iceberg; and a secret government-Lemurian (?) joint experiment on the frozen Cap. Uh-huh. Neither is remembered as a high point for Captain America.

So, to haphazardly draw a metaphor here, Cap's origin is like a strong wooden mast. You can attach things to it, or nail boards to it, but when you take them off you're left with a strong mast with holes in it. Not saying Batman's origin is better, but it's more like a strong stone you can use as a base, that can be built on without damaging it, and the add-ons can be demolished and replaced later. Well, just a thought.

And with that, I may have worked out all of my Civil War complaining and moaning! Ah, it's like coming out of a long flu, or a bad breakup, or some poorly thought out comics. Today, Ed Brubaker's new (and delayed) issue of Captain America comes out, and I'm looking forward to seeing how Cap (and Bru, for that matter) get out of this one.

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