Thursday, March 8, 2007

Icons and Archetypes Never Die

Well, my blogging cohorts have both posted entries recently regarding the death of Captain America. I have been debating about whether or not to post something regarding the ramifications of the death of an American fictional icon. As the only person in our little blogging circle to actually be qualified to speak on the subject of comic books, I do feel somewhat obligated to post a little about the passing of Steve Rodgers. Bottom line: he'll be back. Iconic comic book characters never die, but its always refreshing to kill them off once in a while in order to boost sales and get Marvel or DC on CNN. He'll be back, obviously.

What do I think about Cap? I've never been so much of a collector of comics, as just a fan of great stories, writers and artists. The sad thing for Cap is, he never really has had any of these things. He has always been a pretty unrealistic character, even in the realm of make-believe. However, that doesn't dismiss the fact that I do own a few good back issues.

The result of Cap's death comes on the heels of "Civil War," an on going crossover in the Marvel universe. This "Civil War" revolved around the United States government cracking down on super hero's, by forcing them to register. Obviously, as Marvel has always been quick to do, modern political and cultural upheaval is injected into characters and stories. The X-Men are about civil rights, the Avengers are about diversity, Red Skull is a Nazi, Cap is Mr. America, Spidey's line is "with great power comes great responsibility." In the Marvel universe, everything and everyone is an archetype. Cap's death is no exception; Mr. America dies as a result of a terrorist act.

Now, before everyone goes off the handle and thinks of me as being just a little too cynical about this, I'm not. I'm just a critical person and as someone who has read comics for 20 years, I know what I'm talking about. Cap will be back, just like Wolverine eventually got his adamantium back, just like the Fantastic Four returned, just like Superman being reborn and just like any other great and profitable character being killed off and coming back.

I could keep writing about comics for a good while, but I think I have dug my nerd hole deep enough for the time being.


Anonymous said...

OK, King of Comics, Captain Planet will definitely return. I don't think anyone is saying that he won't.

Is he an archetype? Sure, but do you have a point beyond the obvious. What does the metaphorical death of America and/or freedom (even if it is temporary) say about the state of this fair union?

In other words, I think you're missing the point here.

The King can surely add more to the discussion than this Wikipedia fluff. Give me your own thoughts and reactions. Please, King, impart to me your wisdom!

The Expatriate said...

Oh you lowly serf. Captain Planet was not originally a comic book, but was the brainchild of Ted Turner. Do not bring him up again in the presence of your King. To clarify, Marvel's characters have typically been archetypes and DC's characters have been metaphors. Yes, there is a difference. I know you'll love that. As for my own reactions? I can't really say. I haven't read Cap in years or really kept up with Marvel in years. I am more of a Dark Horse or Vertigo guy these days. Miller, Gaiman, Moore and Sim. Also, Kurt Busiek's "Astro City" is genius and thats what I've been reading for the last 8 months.

Anonymous said...

First of all, Captain "Planet" was a typo. I meant "America."

As for the literary terms: Metaphor? Archetype? I don't give a damn; you're only arguing semantics in an attempt to establish yourself as an authority. In fact, I could kick your ass arguing either, so don't test me, boy.

Finally, I'll just say that I love watching you squirm while trying to protect what you believe to be your only area of expertise outside the realm of hobos. Squirm! Squirm!

The Thinker said...

Here's my problem with all this:

Captain America wasn't simply killed, he was wasted by a sniper on the courthouse steps after testifying.

The method of killing was too impersonal, and should have been more of a hand to hand struggle type deal. Even Samson got to kill a bunch of people in the name of the Lord as he was dying. Doesn't Captain America get at least that? Instead, he gets killed like a dog. Bastards.

Second, he's walking down the courthouse steps. It's not hard to see the message conveyed there. Justice in America is falling apart! Hide your children! I swear to God, if this breastfeeding debate had gotten any more involved, he would have been killed by a giant set of fun bags. All this crap has become too topical for my taste.

Take me back to the good old days when people dressed in red, white and blue kicked some freedom-hating ass. Boo-yah!

The Expatriate said...

Ok, I am truly the only one who can speak with any authority when it comes to comics and GRAPHIC NOVELS, so I'm laying down the law. The point of Cap's death was supposed to be symbolic. He was cut down like anyone else, thus proving America's weakness, yet the preceeding comics established Cap's position when it comes to civil liberties, (see Civil War). The point was a balance between the two, thus the archetype of Cap being destroyed by an act of violence. Jeez. I'm debating Captain America, with two of the most cynical people I know, who both don't care about comic books. I'm going to read some Asto City. (See, you gotta really be a nerd to know what Asto City is.)

The Thinker said...

You can shove that metaphor bullshit up your ass, Comrade. Here in America we only truly understand three things- reality TV, watered down religious stances and unfettered vengeance.

So take your fancy book learning back to a place where it's kosher to kill off your heroes.

Next you'll be telling me we killed Jesus, and that Santa isn't real.

You suck.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Thinker on all point, especially the part about Expatriate sucking. We non-nerds need to stick together out here in cyberspace.