Comic Fodder

The Mysterious Death of Captain America

We all know that we will see Captain America again, even if someone else is in the costume. We also know that we will see Steve Rogers again, be it in flashbacks, time travel stories, or alternate dimensions. Until they find a way to bring him back. Which is no excuse for storming the media with news of his demise before the regular readers could get their hands on the comic and read it for themselves. Would it really have killed them to wait 24 hours to launch their media blitz? Or even eight? A regular comic fan site knows enough to trumpet a big change, but requires you to click on a link before they spoil it for you. Searching on Yahoo that morning for non-comic news, they blared the death of Captain America as their top headline for the day. Thanks for nothing, everyone involved.

Setting aside that they ruined the story for us, setting aside that death means nothing in comics, setting aside pretty much everything else that was wrong with the way this was handled... shouldn't Marvel tell us the story in a clear way that does not confuse the audience? Let me break it down in the order in which the comic books were released, and show you how confusing things are:

1) Captain America #25: Cap gets shot once by Crossbones, and someone shouts that there is a sniper. We find out that Sharon Carter has been brainwashed by Dr. Faustus, and she has fired three more shots at blank range into Cap during the confusion. Cap is immediately whisked away for medical treatment.

2) Civil War: The Initiative #1: Ms. Marvel tells Spider-Woman that Steve Rogers is not dead, that he's on the Raft, a prison for super-humans. (

3) New Avengers #28: Jessica tells the rest of the New Avengers what Ms. Marvel told her. They consider that it's a trap, but Dr. Strange thinks it's the real McCoy. They break into the Raft, and Wolverine sniffs out that it's not really Cap. The New Avengers think Tony has sunk to a new low (and he has), and Dr. Strange helps them get out easily. So Cap was always dead, right? Maybe.

4) Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America #1: Wolverine uses Dr. Strange again to sneak into a secure facility, this time the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier. Logan reaches the coffin and starts sniffing around, and guess who shows up to confirm things? Tony Stark his big old self, to verify that this time, it isn't a trick, that Steve Rogers really is dead.

5) Civil War: The Confession #1: The first part of the story has Tony sobbing over the corpse of Captain America, but the hidden gem is the back-up story, which shows Steve Rogers, alive, at the Raft! So Ms. Marvel was not, in fact, lying to Spider-Woman (which may never get settled between them, but what's one more dangling thread on this?). He is walking and talking, and totally alive. Behind bars, but alive. Which doesn't make Tony Stark any less of a king-size cretin for using that as a trap for his former friends, but at least Ms. Marvel isn't a liar.

6) Captain America #26: Sharon Carter is mad about Iron Man sneaking "the body" out of the hospital the previous night. Was this a hospital at the raft? Because it looked entirely like a prison cell to me. She is shown his corpse, then, but it has only three bullet wounds in the body, unless one of them is supposed to represent two wounds together.

7) Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America #5: Tony admits to Yellowjacket and the Wasp that the body in Arlington is something like a Life Model Decoy, and they turn the body over to Namor, the Sub-Mariner, who returns Steve Rogers' body to the sea, where he was first recovered. The shield in a museum is a fake, as is the one in Arlington with Steve's body. Hawkeye refuses the shield in an issue of Fallen Son, so it will remain in the possession of Iron Man until he can find somebody classless enough to agree to use it.

Here's where it gets tricky. If these stories play out in the order I have presented, it means Cap was shot, but was almost ‘fixed,' before something weird happened, the super-soldier serum gave out, and he dies.

However, the scene that takes place in Confession could be right after Cap was arrested, but before he was marched on the steps of the courthouse and shot. That means Cap was at the Raft, but before he got shot! We may never know, because nobody at Marvel Comics has come out and specified when the Confession story takes place, but the actual issue came out after he was shot. We do not see any sign of bullet wounds or bandages on him, though, so it makes more sense that the Confession story takes place BEFORE Captain America #25. What does this mean?

It means Cap was shot, MAYBE they got him to the Raft and tried to save him, so he did not die immediately. This is the only way that keeps Ms. Marvel from being a big turdy liar. He died, and Tony sneaks Cap's body out of the Raft's hospital facilities when Steve's corpse becomes emaciated. Which still does not cover whether Sharon saw him for any part of the time in the hospital before he died, but hey, who at Marvel really cares if Sharon thought there was still hope for him to survive or not? Readers don't need to see trivial things like that, do they?

So, since Marvel Comics will not write stories in any logical order, and since they prematurely make press releases to announce big shake-ups, but do not even bother with footnotes to tell us when these things actually take place, I am putting the Confession back-up story chronologically before Captain America #25, to keep us from seeing Steve walking and talking after he was shot, to keep Ms. Marvel potentially an honest woman, and to hopefully eliminate the most confusing aspects surrounding Cap's death. Tony sobbing over Cap's body in the first part of Confession will have to take place somewhere after Civil War: The Initiative #1, again to keep Ms. Marvel honest.

That is one small problem that is hopefully less confusing. I'm not going to tackle why the New Avengers fall out of the sky in their latest issue due to an EMP from the Mighty Avengers' alleged first appearance, when we saw the Mighty Avengers way back in New Avengers 28-29. One can only do so much when Bendis has free reign, and the editors no longer know how to do the simplest things.

Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.

Well, look at it this way, Since it was a Skrull disguised as Cap, none of this makes any difference whatsoever....

-- Posted by: Mike Shields at September 3, 2007 4:56 PM

This is a problem that comics in general face on a regular basis. Cap's death is a story that ultimately will not hold up over the long haul. This is one of the things that was so appealing about the Death of Superman--that introducing a new character to be the Big Bad and then having the whole story essentially be a big fight scene means that years later, it all still works. There are a few out-of-place things, like the Jurgens JLA and the red-haired Luthor, but those can be easily dismissed in the context of the story. "Here's Lex, in disguise, pretending to be good but being bad in thought balloons." "Here's the Justice League, even if I doin't know who any of them are."

-- Posted by: Russ Burlingame at September 9, 2007 4:08 PM