Wednesday, March 14, 2007

comics 3 - the wonder of it all

so captain america is dead! this is one that the new boy, who's not into comics at all, actually heard about before i did. maybe because it made headline news on cnn last week?? hell, even the uber-legitimate wall street journal ran a cool opinion piece on it.

to be honest, i can't tell if this is big news or not. as the article itself even notes,

There is an old joke about death in the comic-book world: No one stays dead except Bucky, Jason Todd and Uncle Ben.
and right the author is - bad guys in comic book movies are notorious for saying things like, "don't you ever die?!", simply because, well, if the heroes do, there's no story.

i had never read anything involving captain america until a friend of mine lent me the new ultimates, which features the cap as a character, but his death and this wsj article make a nice segue into my ongoing series on what i love about graphic novels (parts one and two here). i know there's a political point to this stunt, of course there is. blah blah, george bush, rape of the meaning of the term "democracy," blah. i'm not in the mood for those political implications tonight. here's what i see from it.

the wonder of it all

[I]t's worth pausing to appreciate that even at this late date, Captain America's death still meant something. Partially, this was due to the simple fact that Marvel was able to keep his murder a surprise--something of a wonder in an age when every other happening comes prehyped and presold. (Mr. Quesada reveals that the editors went to great lengths to keep the secret, engaging in a quiet campaign of disinformation and even going so far as to leak fake covers to throw fans off the scent.)

Ultimately, it is wonder that we need most from comic books. The wonder that a man can fly or that a skinny American kid with a stout heart can pick up a shield and deck the Führer. With his death last week, Captain America gave us that sense of wonder once more.

so much of growing up involves being too in the know - the old "now that i know how movies are made, i don't enjoy them anymore" attitude. i feel like we need to sit back and be awed every once in a while! not just 'isn't it cool that marvel kept it a secret' but - isn't it cool that they killed off captain america?! it's freaking awesome. isn't it cool that there are news articles and scholarly debate about what a comic book's message and purpose is? :] i think it is.

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