Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The Media and Captain America

I just typed a whole long blog post only to lose it. I'm kinda pissed right now, so it might come out in this article that I now need to retype.

Anyway, if you haven’t heard already (and that means that you have been shunning every major news outlet) Captain America #25 came out today, and Cap is dead. He was shot by a sniper. Woopie.

Now, I'm not pissed that Marvel killed off one of my favorite characters, no...I'm sure that Ed Brubaker (the current writer of Cap) will be able to make good stories surrounding this and make the title work just as well as he had in the past. (Brubaker is one of the best comic book writers out there today, so I don’t have any doubts).

No, what I'm pissed at is the media reaction to Cap's death. The CBS News at Noon put my contempt best when they introduced the article: "First it was Superman, and now, Captain America is dead."

Yes, Superman...who died in the early 90s, and then came back less than a half a year later...I guess the media hasn't learned anything since those days...back then the New York Times was embarrassed when they placed this comic book event on their front page with the headline: "Superman Dead!". I quote DC Comics own Bob Rozakis on his reaction to seeing the Times: "I was looking at it thinking: Are they serious? Do they think this is real? Do they think we'd really permanently kill off our best selling character for good?" And sure enough, as was always the plan, Superman was back only a few issues later. I guess he wasn't quite dead yet.

No comic company would kill off their most popular characters (and even when they had the very misguided sense to even try this, it usually backfired with fans reacting in ways no one ever thought possible, i.e. The Spiderman Clone Saga). And yes, I know DC has killed off characters and replaced them many times before, but there is a major difference between killing permanently an icon like Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman, and making Rene Montoya the new Question. (and yes, I know that DC has successfully killed off and replaced popular characters such as Green Lantern, The Flash and Green Arrow, but there were different circumstances in place there: Barry's book was already cancelled, They always planned on bringing Hal back, and Ollie cheated on Black Canary, so no one cared). Captain America isn't a B-lister along the lines of Green Arrow, no...he's one of Marvels signature characters. Along with Spiderman and the Hulk, he is their icon. There's no way he's dead. And the media should know that by now.

If the past jumping to conclusions with Superman wasn't good enough, here are some other reasons why thinking Cap is forever dead might not be a smart move:

Firstly, Marvel is making a movie of Captain America probably next year. Now, it would be completely ignorant of Marvel to have a movie about a character that no longer exists. When some new fan goes to see the movie and says "hey, that was great, I wonder what the comic book is like" and goes to the store only to find out that Steve Rogers isn't Captain America anymore, do you think he will be happy? Do you think he would buy that comic? No. Never. Whenever a movie comes out for a character, the comic always returns to the status quo! They always have the iconic portrait of the character in the book when getting new fans is possible. Hell, they even brought back an ongoing Ghost Rider book with Johnny Blaze in the drivers seat just in time for the new movie...and Ghost Rider hasn't been popular (or able to sustain an ongoing book) since the 90s comic boom.

Here's another reason: Cap's book is still an ongoing. The book isn't over, Brubaker is still writing it, so, it's likely that he isn't dead. Now, I know this isn't as good a point as it could be...Green Arrow's book continued after Ollie died in issue 100...they just made his son the new Green Arrow (it would take quite a few years, and Kevin Smith with a good story, for Ollie to return from the dead), but more than likely, when an ongoing title goes on, the character is probably still around in some capacity...especially in Cap's case when they haven’t named any successors yet.

But lets go back to what exactly they said on the News At Noon. Just when you thought they couldn’t get any stupider, the anchors had to converse with one another: "Is there any word yet on why they did this?" "No, no one is saying any reasons why yet..." WHAT? Is the noon edition of the news too early to do any research? Ask anyone with even any fading knowledge of comic books today and they can tell you he died because of Marvel's "Universe Changing Event" Civil War. I mean, c’mon, even DC people know that one...but wait, it get's worse:

"No, No one is saying any reasons why yet. The creator of Captain America is 93, I guess he just got tired with the character."...{silence after I heard that...} A simple internet search brings me to Captain America's wikipedia page, in which I am able to tell you that Captain America was created in 1941 by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Kirby died almost fifteen years ago, and Simon hasn't been in the comic business since the 70s. Reading a little further down on the page, one could figure out that the current writer of the book is one Ed Brubaker, and clicking on his link, one could read that he is very active in comics today, and no where near 93 (the 93 year old is Joe Simon). In fact, the information of the current writer can even be found on the cover of the comic in question...clearly, the names Joe Simon or Jack Kirby do not appear there (they might appear on the mast head inside the book with the words "Captain America created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby", I will give them that). Anyway, this information is readily available, and for that blatant showing of a lack of reporting skills to go on air...honestly what the hell? Did they think they didn’t need to fact check because it was a comic book story? Is that why they made it a top story? They should take a look at Jonathan Hickman's book for Image, "The Nightly News" . That might scare them enough to do a report on it.

To CBS' credit, they did seem to get most of their facts straight for their five o'clock edition...even calling Marvel editors Tom Brevhort and Joe Quesada out on doing this just for the money. At least there's still some integrity in reporting. (and if anyone saw the CBS five o'clock news article, I did find it hysterical that reporter Pablo Guzman was dressed as incognito as he could in trench coat and fedora as he stood outside of Midtown Comics).

Anyway, I avoided talking about the ending to Marvel's Civil War because I didn't want to alienate the few readers I have of this blog (hey Steph and Carsi! lol), but since this is about my contempt for the news media, I figure I'll let it slide right now.

I was one of the few that actually thought the ending to Civil War was appropriate, and was not a cop out by Marvel. Yes, it was anti-climatic, and yes, in my opinion, the bad guys won, and yes, it certainly puts a twist on everything, but as Joss Whedon put it, it's basically the way it has to end. Cap's team had no real strategy other than round up all the cool heroes and fight all the heroes I don’t give a damn about. Which, yes, is pretty cool as it is, but it's not a plan. Now, I'm not defending the whole series of Civil War. I think there was more to be desired through much of the series. The fact that they didn’t have a clear plan is one of the biggest errors in the whole thing. Also the fact that no one questions how Mar-Vell is still alive, or why the prisoners in the negative zone were never taken out of their costumes.

But now I have another problem. If they were going to kill Cap as a result of Civil War, why wait till two weeks after the Civil War to do it. Wouldn't it have been a lot easier for him to die during the event, rather than in a book that maybe not everyone who read Civil War might buy? Maybe I answered my own question earlier when I said that he might be back...I think the fact that it's happening in Cap's own book is a clear sign that this isn't a death as much as a way to go underground.

I haven’t read the book yet (I wait for the trades when it comes to Captain America), but did they officially pronounce him dead? Were the people who did that official doctors? Could there be more than meets the eye here? This could be his way to get him to the underground, and away from the media spotlight, having everyone think he's dead. I guess we'll see in upcoming issues.

Originally I guessed that Cap, since he was arrested, might become the new leader of The Thunderbolts. That would have made for an interesting issue. But alas, I guess not. Another idea I had was that the government might do what they did so long ago and get another person to be Captain America while the Steve Rogers version works the underground with the New Avengers. Or at the very least, get USAgent (who supported the registration) to be the government's Cap again. It makes sense. The other obvious choices were the Winter Soldier (formerly Bucky) or The Punisher. Bucky is probably the most obvious choice since the next issue seems to focus on him, and Brubaker kind of brought him back from the dead, so he's sort of responsible for him. Punisher might be because he was the one who picked up Cap's mask at the end of Civil War. Actually, having both of them be rival Captain America's would be pretty damn cool.

Ok, I'm done ranting about this. Cap seems dead now, but I bet he isn't. No one ever stays dead in comics. Get back to your life.

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