News broke this morning of the death of Marvel Comics superhero Captain America in issue #25 of the character's monthly series, which shipped today to comic stores everywhere. Interestingly, the story has been covered by numerous mainstream media outlets including CBS News and CNN, operations not known for their coverage of comic book storylines.
"Captain America Killed Outside Courthouse" read the headline on CBSNews.com's Entertainment section.
"Captain America Killed!" screamed the headline on page 3 of the New York Daily News.
Few of these articles are particularly substantive, with most giving little to no context at all as to the fictional circumstances of Captain America's death, reporting only that he's died. Nevertheless, that so many such articles exist at all is quite remarkable for the small comics industry, and will certainly remind long-time comic fans of the media attention generated by DC Comics' "Death of Superman" event in 1992. "Superman" #75, while similarly controversial amongst longtime readers, sold a great many comic books and gave new and returning fans a place to begin reading stories of the DC Universe. Written by Ed Brubaker and illustrated by Steve Epting, "Captain America" #25 is clearly designed to be accessible by everyone and achieve the same goal for Marvel Comics.
"There is a lot to be read in there. But I'm not one who is going to tell people, this is what you should read into it, because I could look into it and read several different types of messages," Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada said in a taped interview with CNN, who, unlike other mainstream news sources, actually began their article with a spoiler warning and included a recap of the events of "Civil War."
What most articles do make note of is the fact that in superhero comics, "death" doesn't always mean death. Superman returned the year following his "death," and as Captain America appears to be barely hanging onto life in this week's "Civil War: The Initiative," readers can assume - as they almost certainly have - that there's more to this story than meets the eye.
"There was period in comics where characters would just die and then be resurrected," said Quesada to CNN. "And the death had very little meaning and the resurrection had very little meaning. All I ask of my writers is if you're going to kill a character off, please let that death have some meaning in the overall scope of things."
Reached for comment on the death of his character at this point in history, 93 year old Captain America co-creator Joe Simon told the AP, "We really need him now."
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