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NY Times: Captain America Shot Dead

By Brian | March 28, 2007 | Share on Facebook

I know there’s an entire population of adults out there who still buy comic books, and follow the plots like they’re soap operas, but I didn’t realize how…well, pedestrian, these plots have become.

For instance, here’s what the New York Times Book section had to say about the recent murder of Captain America:

Captain America, a Marvel Entertainment superhero, is fatally shot by a sniper in the 25th issue of his eponymous comic, which arrived in stores yesterday. The assassination ends the sentinel of liberty’s fight for right, which began in 1941.

The last episode in Captain America’s life comes after the events of “Civil War,” a seven-issue mini-series that has affected nearly the entire line of Marvel’s library of titles. In “Civil War,” the government began requiring superheroes to register their services, and it outlawed vigilantism after supervillains and superheroes fought during a reality show, accidentally killing hundreds of civilians. The public likened the heroes to weapons of mass destruction that must be controlled.

OK, first of all, seriously? Marvel Comics has adopted the basic plot of The Incredibles? Isn’t this a job for Captain Copyright? Also, note the references to Reality TV and WMD’s, which give it that modern, political feel.

We press on:

The registration act polarized the superhero community. Captain America (whose true identity was Steve Rogers) considered the legislation an erosion of civil liberties; Iron Man, on the other side, believed that training heroes as the military, firefighters or the police are trained would only benefit society. When the factions came to blows and caused more destruction, Captain America chose to fight his battle . . .

With his secret ray gun? By using his Red, White and Blue super-shield like a Chinese Star and cutting his enemies to ribbons? By teaming up with his Super Friends to put the bad guys in a giant net and hurtling them towards the sun? Well, no:

When the factions came to blows and caused more destruction, Captain America chose to fight his battle in court.

But in the current issue of his title, Captain America takes bullets in the shoulder and stomach while on the courthouse steps. The assassin is alleged to be Sharon Carter, an intelligence agent romantically involved with Captain America.
[Emphasis mine]

So this is the state of the modern comic book? The superhero goes to court to defend his civil rights, and dies of a gunshot wound amid protest signs calling him a traitor, a victim of a domestic dispute gone bad?

Doesn’t this sound more like the final episode of Super ACLU-Lawyer? I realize I’ve missed 66 years of back issues, but I can’t believe this is how Captain America has always been portrayed…

Topics: Random Acts of Blogging | 3 Comments »

3 Responses to “NY Times: Captain America Shot Dead”

  1. jason says at March 28th, 2007 at 12:23 pm :
    I haven’t actually read the Civil War miniseries, but from what I’ve been hearing, pretty much everyone in the comics scene hates it, for many of the reasons you mention. It’s one thing to ground a superhero story in the “real world,” and quite another to shackle the poor characters with the “mundane world.”

    I think that’s partly why The Incredibles was such a delight: it was commenting on real world concerns, but it obviously was not our world. (Although wouldn’t it be great if it was, with all the 1950s modernist architecture and the classic cars mixed with 21st century technology? Oooh, baby!)

    I dunno – my interest in comics waxes and wanes, and I think the industry in general has shot itself in the foot quite a few times in the last 15 years. As much as I hate to say it, I really think comics are dying…

  2. Michael Weinmayr says at March 29th, 2007 at 9:12 am :
    Plot of “The Incredibles”? No, try “The Watchmen” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watchmen), which set up the “outlawing vigilantism” idea in 1985. But I’m sure Jeff can give a more complete background on that.

  3. Jeff Porten says at April 1st, 2007 at 9:48 am :
    Oh, boy, you aren’t kidding, Weinmayr. My Cap collection is fairly complete from mid-70s to early-90s, and I’m pretty well versed in the earlier stories from WWII and the revival in the 1960s. So what do you want to know?

    Short answer: I haven’t read the death issue yet, but my guess is that this is a rather silly way of generating buzz. Cap’s got chainmail is his uniform, and his shield is hardest metal in the Marvel Universe. It’s simply not credible that he’d get shot, given the scrapes he’s survived (including, for instance, WWII).

    Long answer: yes, Virginia, quite a lot of comic book drama takes place in courtrooms. That was actually part of the revolution that Marvel started in the 60s, creating a superhero world where the characters had to deal with real-life issues. Captain America fairly commonly deals with politics, given his role as the face of patriotism (on Marvel Earth, he’s pretty much the embodiment of Uncle Sam — ignoring for the moment that there is an Uncle Sam). Meanwhile, Daredevil (until recently) is also the lawyer Matt Murdock, and he beats as many bad guys in court as he does in his red pajamas.

    Let me know if you have a few weeks to spare, I’ll lend you some reading material.


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