Friday, May 4, 2007

Captain America: What went wrong? (cont.)

Continuity is my favorite part of comics, but I'll be damned if it doesn't make it difficult to catch someone up on what's going on.

Picking up from where I left off last time, at the end of the "House of M" there was a short period of "normal" life in the Marvel Universe. Good guys fought bad guys, Woverine said 'bub', Cyclops was a dick. Everything was hunky dory.

The most important thing that happened to the story of Captain America was the creation of a new Avengers team. After a raid on the maximum security prison "The Raft" a group of heroes gathered by chance to fight the chaos and capture as many of the villains as they could. Once the dust settled, Cap, Iron Man, Spider-man, Wolverine, Spider-Woman, The Sentry, Ms. Marvel, Luke Cage and the mysterious Ronin were the new Avengers, and operated out of Stark Tower. They fought some bad guys for a while. Everything was great.

Then a couple of things happened.

  • The Illuminati, a secret cabal of heroes, shipped the Hulk off into space as a final solution to his rampages.
  • The New Warriors, on live television, went to bust a gang of villains. One of them, Nuke, used his power to escape, and in the process killed hundreds of people (including a nearby schoolyard-full of children and all of the New Warriors save Speedball).
The latter sets off a furor in the Marvel Universe, prompting the US government to introduce the Superhuman Registration Act, forcing any metahumans to register their powers, as well as to be trained and evaluated before they are able to use them, as a security measure to protect the civilian population from rogue heroes (like the New Warriors) getting in it too deep and resulting in another Connecticut disaster.

Heroes across the board are conflicted about this, and quickly polarize towards either supporting the act and the security it brings or acting against it, seeing it as an affront to freedom. They fall in with the two icons on either side of the debate, Iron Man (pro) and Captain America (con). Things rapidly degenerate when military force is used to capture unregistered heroes at midnight on the day of the act becoming law. Captain America, Falcon, Luke Cage and a handful of others are assaulted and retreat into hiding, trying to marshal up a resistance force.

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I'll take a break here to express some thoughts.

Captain America, the greatest hero the United States has ever had, is against the act. He seemed to be taking a passive resistance towards it, sitting quietly as the deadline passed. Who's brilliant idea was it to send a tactical military force to detain him at 12:01?

Also, Tony Stark really starts acting like a dick here. He turns on his friends, trying to manipulate them and bully them into siding with him. He personally turns friend on friend, and alienates his closest allies in doing so. He and Reed Richards begin to play chess with their friends and family, and it gets vicious and perverse very quickly. Tony's a smart guy, and I can't help but think he's got some plan down the road, but it mostly seems as if he is just amassing power for himself. The General consensus on the internet is "Iron Man is a tool", and with every passing month, he seems to be digging deeper and deeper.

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Flash forward through the "Civil War" event, there were a few milestones here to cover:
  • At Iron Man's urging Peter Parker revealed to the world he was Spider-Man. This was an attempt to show the transparency of the Act.
  • Peter was attacked on all sides by his enemies, forcing Aunt May and Mary-Jane to move into Stark Tower for their own protection.
  • Reed Richards cloned Thor, and this clone (Clor!) killed Black Goliath in a showdown between Cap and Iron Man's forces.
  • The FF broke up, mostly because Reed was acting without even talking things over with his wife.
  • Namor, Black Bolt and Black Panther all strained their US relations in some way as a result of the registration act.
  • Spider-Man joined Cap's side after seeing how far Tony was ready to go, specifically killing another hero in Black Lightning.
  • The government formed an officially sanctioned super-team to track down renegades in the Thunderbolts. The team included registered metas Green Goblin, Bullseye and Venom amongst others.
  • Iron Man and Reed Richards created a super-prison in the neutral zone to hold non-conformists.
  • Cap and his team attacked the prison, freeing everyone within and an epic battle began.
There is a lot more that happened in the series, but that's up to you to read. Again, wikipedia has it all summarized in great detail.

The important thing to remember is that real questions were being asked about the Marvel Universe's civil freedoms and how much were they worth when compared to the promise of security.

The Civil War ends when, mid-battle, Captain America realises that the collateral damage being caused by this mid-Manhattan brawl is too great, with hundreds dead and millions in damages, and surrenders to Iron Man.

Yeah, he just gives up.

And goes to jail.

That's how Civil War ends.

Back in his own book, he is taken to court, and upon making his exit, Sharon Carter (under the influence/manipulation of the Red Skull) snipes Captain America, shooting him 4 times with a high-caliber rifle and killing him on the steps of the court house.

Just like that.

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An interesting addendum to this is that Marvel leaked news of this story to the media the day the book hit the stands, so many readers heard about it in the paper or on the radio before they could get to the comic shop with nary a spoiler warning in sight.

The issue also sold out very quickly due to the interest generated by the press. I myself was not able to get a copy, the stores in my area selling out before I had a chance to get to the shop.

3 comments:

Elgoomgnizalb said...

Alright, so now we know what happened. But I seem to recall you saying you were going to try and tell us what it ultimately meant.

Anthony said...

For: elgoomgnizalb:

I think right now if Marvel is being brilliant (I doubt it). They are playing the whole fact that Cap was the shining light of the Marvel U and the darkness (which seems to be Iron Man) has taken over and Cap has been killed by the paranoia and cynicism.

I don't think marvel has this in mind. Generally I think Marvel will try to do a generational hero with Cap and will fail miserably. Marvel has had the worst case of replacing heroes with another generation compared to DC.

Captain America is one of the ones you can't really replace (along with Spidey) since he embodies the ideal of the American Spirit which is hard to find in a modern character without it coming across false. Cap has been replaced before and it tends to go badly since the ideals of being a better American person are what he embodies, the urge to be welcoming, brave, yet tolerant of others, and willing to do the right thing. It's hard to create this in a "new" Cap without it being essentially the old Cap.

I give it 9 months to a year before Cap is back. How? take your pick: Cosmic Cube, Beyonder, clone, Scarlet Witch.

Scott said...

Ooh, the Beyonder. I like it, especially with the Secret Wars/Civil Wars revival.