It wasn’t that long ago that Marvel cinched some great press from the likes of ABC and (if I recall) CNN when they killed off their star-spangled hero. While Wolverine’s popularity easily eclipses any of Marvel’s other heroes in their collection, and Spider-Man is more of a flagship than the flag-bearer himself, Captain America’s demise seemed to garner a decent bit of mainstream attention, if perhaps because of the highly politicized climate, pre-election.
On the fanboy side, while his death was met with considerable interest, it also came with an equal heaping of skepticism. After all, this couldn’t be any more than a gimmick; just a sales boost. “Of course he’s not going to stay dead. Of course they’ll bring him back to life, eventually. What kind of suckers does Marvel take us for?” And, sure enough, a couple years later, here he comes, and the fanboys are storming the shores of The United States of Marvel once again. “Oh, like we didn’t see that coming. This isn’t a surprise.”
My favorite comment went something like: “Nothing surprises me anymore, ever since they brought back Bucky.” Aw, you poor jaded thing. Or maybe naive is the better word.
Kids, I don’t think Marvel is trying to pull a fast one on you. They aren’t claiming to be the most original storytellers in the world. Death and resurrection: those are pretty old concepts, and they’ve been visited many times in centuries past. They’re well aware how many times they’ve killed off and then breathed new life into their own army. There was even a joke about it in the first X-Men movie: “Don’t you people ever stay dead?” I wouldn’t believe you if you told me you didn’t chuckle at that nugget.
Ed Brubaker and company, like any talented, praise-worthy creative team, simply want to tell a good story. And that’s precisely what they’ve been doing since the Captain America relaunch. Artists Epting, Perkins and all the rest have been exceptional. Just look at that trailer. Look at the goddamn art that flashes by. And with this new series, they’re bringing back probably the most-loved early-millenium Cap artist: Bryan (oh, you know, I just did The Ultimates) Hitch.
So no, you clever bastards, nobody is expecting you to be surprised or shocked. They want you to be pleased and excited that you’re in for the next great ride in the long life of one of the nation’s most beloved superheroes. Whether you buy the book or not, don’t expect anybody to think you’re oh-so-clever to have predicted this one. The only flag planting here will be done by Rogers himself.