07 March 2007

The Death of Captain America

No spoiler warning necessary at this point when it's now the featured story on Yahoo's main page!

It was "spoiled" for me on the way to work today thanks to a page 3 article in the Daily News, "Captain America killed!". Even Marvel has now revealed it on their web site, after teasing it with a Daily Bugle: A Hero has been Shot story earlier today that didn't identify the victim. Cute.

Of course, despite most not having read the story in question yet, the blogiverse is already cynically chiming in with variations on "So what?" and "Quesada sucks!" in response to this rumored development, one which admittedly caught me off-guard since I'd assumed it would happen in Civil War, and when it didn't, forgot about it completely.

One of my favorite comments comes courtesy of RobN, via Blog@:

Well this just proves a miseriable fucking company Marvel has become under Quesada. This "Do anything and fuck continuity, fuck the characters and fuck the fans mentality" is going to cost Marvel big.
Now, I have some issues with Joe Quesada's handling of the MU, but credit where credit's due, he's kept Marvel on top of the direct market heap for a few years running now, fending off a strong attempt by DC to unseat, or at least match them. Marvel also makes no bones about where their focus is -- squarely on superheroes and the direct market, with an increasing emphasis on leveraging their properties for a variety of licensing purposes, including film -- and they've been quite successful following that formula.

Considering Captain America hasn't exactly been a significant seller in many a year -- excepting the recent boost from, you guessed it, Civil War, and despite Ed Brubaker's generally lauded run to-date -- killing him off isn't going to cost Marvel anything in the long-term. One of two things will happen: 1) they capitalize on his death and the fragments of potential left behind in Civil War's wake, and tell some amazing stories that demonstrate how dramatically the Marvel Universe has changed over the years; or 2) they botch it and bring him back before the year is out, no muss, no fuss.

The latter, obviously, would "cost" them a bit in the credibility department, but they already have a huge deficit there, so it's not a big deal. Hell, Quesada and company would probably find a way to spin it so that enough fans are placated, turn it into another PR coup and enflame the blogiverse all over again.

As a reader and fan of Brubaker's Captain America, I have full confidence in his ability to make it all work, though. Of course, if he doesn't, I'll simply drop the title from my pull list and move on; no muss, no fuss.

I'm reminded of the recent three-episode arc on Grey's Anatomy, where the fate of the lead character, Meredith Grey, hung in the balance. I never thought they'd actually kill her off [they didn't], and so was more focused on how the possibility of her death affected her friends and co-workers and how it moved their characters forward, which I think they handled beautifully. Not everyone agrees, many expressing their disappointment on the show's writers' blog, but I'm willing to bet when new episodes return in a couple weeks, it will remain amongst the highest-rated shows on TV because it has earned that audience over a period of time by telling compelling stories featuring an amazing and diverse cast of characters potrayed by talented actors. If/when the ratings start to dip -- as often happens, sometimes seemingly on a whim -- they'll need to retrench and figure where they went wrong.

Not unlike, to the objective observer, the team of creators currently running the Marvel Universe through its paces. While YOU may not like the current state of the union, just like not everyone's a fan of Grey's Anatomy or Lost or CSI, Marvel's "ratings" are currently high enough that they're not changing direction any time soon and it simply means you're not their target audience.

And, you know what, that's okay, because there's a ton of other comics out there that are perfect for you. Instead of bitching about the ones that aren't, why not find the ones that are and laud them instead?

4 comments:

Erech said...

I've already commented on this elsewhere, but I think it's pretty fucking lame in general that before the book is even out, the news as well as comic sites are spoiling the crap out of this.

Lame. Lame. Lame.

The Fortress Keeper said...

He'll be back.

spencer said...

good post. i agree, if you don't like the death of cap, then oh well. personally, i think it's been pretty well done. time will tell how it goes with bringing him back, etc.

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