Many people predicted either Iron Man (Tony Stark) or Captain America (Steve Rogers) would die in the final throws of Civil War. When the concluding issue #7 came and went with Cap’ surrendering and becoming imprisoned, I believed these two Marvel icons had both dodged death. Shockingly, it came in an epilogue issue of Civil War, Captain America #25 (volume 5). Captain America was assassinated.
Ed Brubaker delivers this tragic event in an equally stunning and touching manor that remains true to the character of Captain America. As Cap’ is being led into the courthouse to be arraigned for his crimes in violation of the Super-Hero Registration Act, he is shot in the back by a sniper. Amazingly, Cap’ spots the sniper before being shot and turns himself into the shot, seemingly protecting the guards escorting him. However, one bullet would not take down this super soldier.
As the crowd scatters, his friend and recent lover Sharon Carter steps from the crowd. She is there working secretly with Nick Fury and Winter Soldier in hopes of avoiding something like this. As she gets to Cap’ we see him shot three times to the stomach from close range. We are left unsure of the shooter at this point. Later we learn Dr. Faustus has manipulated through some sort of hypnotism, Sharon to have pulled the trigger and killed Captain America. When she learns this, Brubaker makes her pain palpable.
Interesting to note in this, is a brief moment of history relating to Captain America. As far as I know, he is one of the first major super heros who was clearly killed, then revived years later. He died in World War 2, but was found by the Avengers frozen in a block of ice. The modern character of Cap’ has repeatedly used this plot point of a man out of time. Since then, it’s almost become a cliche that you can’t really kill anyone for long. The list of characters who have died and been reborn is extensive: Jean Grey, Spider-Man, Hawkeye, Vision, Winter Soldier, Colossus, Elektra, Punisher, Professor X, Angel, Wonder Man, Thor, Human Torch, Captain Marvel, Green Goblin, need I go on? Usually Marvel will wait for a writer change, a major story line, or a big crossover before they come up with some low percentage explanation that allows the revival of a beloved character.
With this death, they haven’t even bothered to wait a week before laying the ground work to bring Steve Rogers back from the dead. In the Civil War: The Initiative one-shot, Brian Michael Bendis delivers a scene where Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew) and Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers) come into conflict. Spider-Woman is still unregistered and opposing the act. Ms. Marvel tries to convince Spider-Woman to take the pardon and come in. The hurt from Cap’s death is clearly still to near the surface for Jessica and she lays the blame square on the shoulders of Tony Stark. It is at the point that Ms. Marvel states that Steve Rogers is not dead. She says: “He’s tucked away safe on The Raft. No one knows. No one. They’re trying to save his life even as we speak.” When asked how this is possible she retorts: “What am I? A super-soldier serum expert? He’s not dead!” However, Marvel has issued this statement: “Comments from Ms. Marvel in this week’s Civil War: The Initiative, which seemed to indicate that Captain America is still alive, and being held prisoner by the Pro-Registration forces may not have been exactly what they seemed on the surface, and events related to those comments will play out in upcoming issues of New Avengers.” I still think this leaves a nice wide opening to resurrect Steve Rogers whenever it is necessary, my prediction, right before the 2009 Captain America movie hits theaters.
But “Captain America” is not in fact dead, Steve Rogers is. With the clear foreshadowing they did in Civil War #7 by having Frank Castle (The Punisher) take Captain America’s mask, most definitely this will be the guy to wear the red, white, and blues real soon. Throughout Civil War, it was shown repeatedly how much Frank respects and admires Steve Rogers. This is a story line with a lot of potential and is destined to stir interesting controversy in the Marvel Universe.
On a final note, I love when comic book events are large enough to gain attention of traditional media reporting, but it is annoying to find out about events like this before you read them. Sadly I had this story spoiled for me less than a day after it happened and my copy of the book had not yet arrived…