Another new Captain America

Marvel’s Avengers NOW

This last week has seen Marvel comics announce a major shakeup to their so-called “Trinity” of Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor as part of their “Avengers NOW” initiative starting in November. Iron Man was going to be retitled Superior Iron Man, a title that calls to mind Doc Ock taking control of Peter Parker’s body in the book Superior Spider-Man. What that means will have to wait until November. Thor is going to be shaken up in a fantastic way: Thor is going to be deemed “unworthy” to wield his Hammer and possess his power as the god of thunder. In his place an unknown woman will be deemed worthy and possess the power of Thor—which is the enchantment that Stan Lee and the 2011 films show to give Thor his powers. In Captain America Steve Rogers has lost his super soldier serum fighting a villain known as the Iron Nail. Now an aged man he is no longer able to wield the shield and Marvel has announced that Sam Wilson, aka the Falcon, will carry on his Rogers’ stead.

As an avid fan of Captain America I think there are somethings that have been said but need to be repeated about this shakeup.

  1. Bucky Barnes, who was Captain America from 2008–2011, is the best candidate to replace Rogers. Bucky keeps the core concept that Stan Lee created when he reintroduced Cap in the 1960s as the man out of time who is tortured by his failure to save Bucky from death. Bucky is also the man out of time who is tortured by Bucky’s death. But the new layer that Barnes adds is that he was turned into the super assassin Winter Soldier by the Soviets. The blood on his hands tortures him.
  2. Wings AND a shield!

    With that said Sam Wilson is the only other logical choice to follow Rogers. The Falcon has been in the comic since 1969’s Captain America #117 and even shared the title of the book. On some of the many occasions Rogers has stopped being Cap, Wilson has taken the man who was trying to carry on the mission under his wing (pun intended) and taught them how to be Captain America—including Bucky Barnes starting in Captain America #37 (2008). Sam Wilson understands what it means to be Captain America firsthand better than anyone but Barnes.

  3. This move with Captain America is also not a creative move. The last man to write this title was Ed Brubaker, the man responsible for bringing Bucky back from the dead. Part of his epic run with Cap was to kill Rogers and replace him with Barnes as the titular character. In Steve Rogers: Super Soldier #1-4 (2010) Steve Rogers, top cop of the Marvel universe, loses his powers to the villain Machinesmith and again in Captain America #6-10 (2011-2012). New Cap writer Rick Remender is already reusing ideas from the previous run and we’re only 22 issues into his story. It’s a bad sign to quickly recycle like this.
  4. I find it telling, unfortunately, that Marvel isn’t confident enough in the Falcon after the success of Captain America: The Winter Soldier to carry his own solo book as the Falcon. They felt the best way to capitalize on Anthony Mackie’s stellar performance as Sam Wilson was to put him in the role of Captain America. And one difference between Wilson and Barnes’ run as Cap is the proximity of Steve Rogers. When Rogers was dead, Bucky-Cap was great. As soon as Rogers was brought back from the dead it felt like the book was looking over its shoulder for Rogers to sneak up on it and beat it dead. For Falcon-Cap, Rogers is right there, alive and kicking even if he’s old. This will hurt the book because there’ll always be that expectation for Rogers to come back. Falcon would be better served on his own but Marvel isn’t confident in his ability to carry a book. And that’s sad.
  5. This shakeup of Captain America and Thor looks like a move to better represent minority characters in its titles. And that’s great. If anyone were to walk into a local comic book shop and look at the rack they’d notice a lot of the prominent heroes being white men. Interjecting more female and African American (or hispanic or Asian or Arab etc.) is a much needed thing. However comics are subject to the law of elasticity. That is to say that these characters can (and should) be stretched but must be returned to their original shape or they don’t work anymore. This law ultimately makes this shakeup a gimmick and stunt that seems to be motivated by short-term sales boosts than longterm character changes.

At the end of the day, Falcon is taking over as Captain America in November’s All-New Captain America #1 (2014– ). I look forward to seeing Sam Wilson in the spotlight and see what he can do with the shield. I also know that Rogers will be back, no matter what kind of promises Marvel is making. They said the same things about Bucky-Cap too. And that undermines the effort to speak to minorities because this move will ultimately be a ploy to boost sales in the here and now.

But I know I will be reading the adventures of Falcon-Cap in All-New Captain America #1 (2014– ). You should too.

Oh! And…

The new Captain America suit in Avengers: Age of Ultron is awesome.

~ by hankimler on July 20, 2014.

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