Okay, I really tried not to think about this, but in the light of the very real fact that 75% books produced by Marvel nearly require you to be reading Civil War to understand where characters’ motivations are at, there’s no way to be staring at the 800 lbs gorilla and not wonder ‘Well, where’s he gonna sit?’. Quesada and company are on a mission to change the landscape of the Marvel Universe forever, bringing fresh ideas and new direction to everyone’s table; as long as this is kept coherent and continuous (I know, I know, bear with me), this could be a return to the hey-day of the House of Ideas, where the events of the books seemed like ‘one big cocktail party’, as Brian Bendis once said. Mind you, it won’t be a cocktail party per se, more like a governmentally allocated heroic future which has a lot of very serious weight, but if it things fall into place, a greater story could emerge than the sum of its parts.
And that’s why I think Captain America should bite it. BIG TIME.
I know Quesada has poo-poo’d the idea of playing ‘Internet Nostradamus’ and said that Cap is not at the end of Civil War, but if you will, consider this a ‘What If?’. Since that question was first pondered, Marvel has loved the idea of taking a better outcome and pondering the worst it could have gotten to, so let’s assume for a moment that I know the outcome of Civil War. That, through influence of the Cosmic Cube and the fantastic story progressing by Brubaker in Captain America’s title, that his arch nemesis has finally found the finest way to strike out at his most hated foe. That when you take away the very thing he holds dear, American ideas of freedom and democracy, you have truly broken your opponent. Taking a step back, Civil War looks pretty much like Cap’s worst nightmare: country in turmoil, wracked with fear, friends fighting friends, a bit of madness in the process. Something tells me he doesn’t rest easy at night. So, still hypothesizing, let’s say that the final issue of Civil War reveals the Red Skull, enjoying the triumph of seeing Steve Rogers broken. Realizing that it’s been manipulation and good ol’ cosmic power warping this war into something hideous, Captain America takes it to the man and in a great battle between valiant foes, Captain America gives his life to try and stop it all, making the greatest sacrifice for the greater good.
Considering everything that has gone through Civil War, drastic changes, characters losing integrity, heroes hunted and villains rising, they can’t just call a truce. They can’t just walk away from this. And not to take anything away from the rather quick and disappointing death of Bill Foster, a big name guy has got to go in order to shake this thing down. Taking into account the new books in the works (Civil War: the Initiative) and the line up of both teams of Avengers, the Registration side is going to win. Well, ‘win’ in so much that all the changes that’s been enacted are going to stay and by the looks of the issue of Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man that comes out today, heroes will still be hunted. Since Thunderbolts isn’t over after February, villains will still be ‘sponsored’ heroes unless a fastball is pulled on us. Iron Man’s group of Avengers looks to be made up of his best pals from the cause and the Newer Avengers consist of those on the opposition, so there’s a chance the division will remain. With all of this in mind, would Captain America give up peacefully or would he continue to fight for his ideals as he’s done this far? Think about World War II and all the good men he had to see die to fight the Nazi regime and try and think of one person that would cause Captain America to lay down arms and give into a new regime he doesn’t believe in?
Alright, you say, holding up your hands. What of it? How could they possibly kill Captain-FREAKIN’-America? Well, do remember this is the same company that can use child explosion as a way to get across a dangerous situation (see the bus load of kids that exploded in the New X-Men and our favorite elementary school in Civil War). From a purely tactical situation, it also makes the most sense as once you take down the guy in charge, rebellions have a good chance of crumbling. Unless Ronin is going to turn out to be Steve Rogers in disguise, neither the ‘New’ or ‘Mighty’ Avengers would have Cap on their team and speaking from a purely personal viewpoint, an Avengers team without Captain America is like a day without sunshine. He’s enough of a major player to need a whole mini-series to allow the Marvel Universe the space to grieve. Ed Brubaker, working magic on the Captain America title right now, could conceivably craft a really interesting storyline with the supporting characters he’s been developing while we wait for the inevitable return.
Because, after all, this is comics. The solicit for April’s White Tiger #6 said it best: surviving death is just part of the nicks, cuts, and bruises that all heroes endure. Steve Rogers has been dead before and it never stopped him from coming back; in the tire and true tradition of ‘not finding the body’, Captain America the secret identity can disappear and Steve Rogers can even go into hiding like Peter Parker’s one right now. And, when the timing is right and the re-entrance dramatic enough, Captain America can rise again.
Or will he even need to? While when Superman dies, the world loses an icon; one could argue that the man himself is so unique that no one could possibly take up the mantle where Kal-El left off. However, with Captain America, you have a sense of a title or idea. Captain America is a symbol of democracy and our country more than he is a man and as long as that shield is still borne by someone who believes in America, Captain America can never truly die. It’s been awhile since someone new held the title and in Marvel’s new era of current and more ‘real’ stories, giving it to someone who represents more of the modern day would be just the kind of ‘internet-breaking’ stunt we’ve come to expect from the House of Ideas.
No matter how the events of Civil War pan out, all we can guarantee is the inevitability of change and the maxim that death is never the end.