As the final page of this week’s Age of Ultron makes clear, the Marvel superheroes are definitely in trouble. The problem isn’t that Ultron has taken over the world and decimated the heroes off-panel. No, as the wordless last page makes clear, the problem is that Captain America is in despair:
Cap as a broken man is the new signifier that things have gotten real for the good guys; it’s the Superman Crying of the Marvel Universe. Why, remember when Fear Itself was so bad that Cap despaired three different times?
That was some bad stuff, that Fear Itself. Notice that he didn’t even break a sweat during Siege; even Cap knew that that four issue series was just filler before the Heroic Age relaunch. I had thought like Cap’s sullen, often shadow-laden despair face is a relatively recent invention, and that “classic” Cap never did such a thing, but then I remembered this: