Thursday, July 16, 2009

Stay Down, Steve Rogers

Zombies are cool. There’s nothing the walking dead can’t add any spice to. Boring movie? Toss a few zombies in for laughs and gore galore! Tired of watching grass grow? Break out a copy of Plants vs. Zombies and defend your Lawn of the Dead! Feel like having a team-building activity? Try surviving Left 4 Dead’s zombie apocalypse in multiplayer. Heck, even things like haikus and literary classics become a lot more fun when you inject a little Romero into them.

It’s a fantastic thing, then, that we live an age where mainstream comics have learned the value of zombification. You don’t need to resort to lesser-known titles (to the mainstream, at least) like The Walking Dead and Wormwood, Gentleman Corpse to get your daily dose of death. Marvel’s been whipping out Marvel Zombies books left and right, while DC’s making our favorite form of worm food the main focus of this year’s major company-wide crossover event, The Blackest Night (which is fucking AWESOME!!!). Yessiree, it’s a great time to rise from the grave.

Except for you, Steve Rogers.

I absolutely detest the fact that Marvel has decided to bring Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, back to life in the Captain America: Reborn event. Sure, I suppose it’s inevitable with such an iconic character, but seriously – why can’t he just stay dead? Out of all the superhero deaths I’ve read, his meant the most. Superman died fighting Doomsday, a creature without rhyme or reason. The Flash, Jean Grey, and a host of other heroes died in an effort to save the Earth/universe/all of existence. Hell, we’ve had heroes die to cancer.

But Steve Rogers? His death had much more purpose than being a glorified act of fictional martyrdom. His death came about as a repercussion of Marvel’s Civil War, an examination of the shitstorm that’s bound to happen when egotistical superpowers believe that their actions are for the good of the entire world.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s a crash course: A superhero adventure went awry and ended up in a massive explosion that killed over 600 innocent civilians. Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, became head of pretty much the world’s most powerful security agency. Working hand in hand with the US government, he helped enforce the Superhuman Registration Act, a method for the government to regulate and police the activities of all superhumans by mandating that they register their secret identities.

More than a few superheroes balked at this idea. This was, after all, a gigantic violation of their rights. Stark, however, was adamant about enforcing the Act, and rallied pro-Registration heroes to his side. He then began to pursue and imprison the superhumans who were fighting for their right to ensure the safety of their loved ones.

Needless to say, this caused a lot of infighting among the superhero community. The act was heavily debated, to the point that the whole thing was an enormous gray area. Still, lines were drawn, and a superhero civil war broke out. On the pro-Registration side was Tony Stark. On the anti-Registration side, none other than Marvel’s very own sentinel of liberty – Captain America, the World War II hero who was a living, breathing representation of the country that now wanted to deprive him of his rights. One plot twist after another soon followed, and the battle was eventually taken to the streets.

The fighting had caused heavy damage to the city, and it didn’t take long for Steve Rogers to realize that innocent lives were being endangered. Being the Boy Scout that he was, he called for a ceasefire and turned himself in. He gave himself up because he knew that all this squabbling was going to end up killing innocents.

And so Steve Rogers was brought to trial. As he was leaving the courthouse, he was shot by a sniper and was killed in the chaos that quickly ensued.

His death never resolved anything, fittingly enough. In a rare moment of comic realism, the two factions never got together and gave each other hugs. They never kissed and made up. All his passing gave the world was a brief reprieve from its own selfish clusterfucks, a moment of silence for the only hero who chose to act like one throughout this entire ordeal.

The events of Civil War drew many comparisons to today’s superpowers and their self-proclaimed duty to police the world. They wage wars over political ideals, never backing down because of their fervent beliefs of what’s right for the world. Yet, in the wake of these superior forces, innocents are dying. Is policing the world really worth destroying it? Steve Rogers said a soft, solemn “No,” and he paid for it with his life.

Steve Rogers died because he believed there had to be a better way of resolving things. To the very end, he was making a statement: that he, a super-soldier, a human being genetically modified to be an instrument of war, saw beyond the political ideologies that ran rampant in a messed-up world and realized that it wasn’t worth it; not when it’s destroying everything they sought to protect in the first place.

And now Marvel wants to ruin all that by bringing him back to life? Give a (fictional) man his piece, will ya? We all know that when he comes back to life, the death will be a footnote to his existence. It’s happened with EVERYONE. I mean, who cares that Superman ever died these days? Who? No one; and the same will happen with good old Mr. Rogers. Sigh.

End tree-hugging hippie fanboy rant here. Thank you.

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