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Sunday, July 1, 2007

Fallen Son

This week, Marvel will release Fallen Son, the funeral of Captain America.

It's a funeral fit for a superhero. In the drizzling rain at Arlington National Cemetery, thousands of grieving patriots solemnly watch as the pallbearers — Iron Man, the Black Panther, Ben Grimm and Ms. Marvel — carry a casket draped with an American flag.

Yes, folks, Captain America is dead and buried in the latest issue of Marvel Comics' "Fallen Son," due on newsstands the morning after Independence Day. After 66 years of battling villains from Adolf Hitler to the Red Skull, the red, white and blue leader of the Avengers was felled by an assassin's bullet on the steps of a New York federal courthouse.

He was headed to court after refusing to sign the government's Superhero Registration Act, a move that would have revealed his true identity. A sniper who fired from a rooftop was captured as police and Captain America's military escort were left to cope with chaos in the streets.

With the story line so relevant to present-day politics, and the timing of the latest issue so precise, it's hard not to think the whole thing is one big slam on the government.

"Part of it grew out of the fact that we are a country that's at war, we are being perceived differently in the world," Loeb said. "He wears the flag and he is assassinated — it's impossible not to have it at least be a metaphor for the complications of present day."

Captain America, whose secret identity was Steve Rogers, was an early member of the pantheon of comic book heroes that began with Superman in the 1930s.

He landed on newsstands in March 1941, nine months before Pearl Harbor — delivering a punch to Hitler on the cover of his first issue, a sock-in-the-jaw reminder that there was a war on and the United States was not involved.

"The question is, how does the world continue without this hero?" he said. "If that story of his return gets told further down the line, great. But everyone's still been dealing with his loss.

"They aren't going to wake up and it's a dream, like it's some episode of 'Dallas.'"

It's old news by now that Marvel killed off Captain America -- especially sad in today's world. We saw Captain America fight in multiple enemies relevant to our world throughout the decades. He fought the Nazis, Hitler, and the Japanese during WWII, communism in the 50s, and destroys the anti-nationalist terrorist the Flag Snatcher.

I can just imagine if Captain America had fought terrorists and/or Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden in Iraq and Afghanistan -- CAIR would be suing Marvel, and every single media outlet, led by the NY Times, would be calling for a boycott of the comic book due to "discrimination" and "bigotry" and who knows what else.

What a different world we live in today, and the death of an iconic figure like Captain America shows that, especially when we need an American icon like Captain America today now, more than ever. It isn't a stretch to see the death of Captain America, a symbol of patriotism and love for country, as the death of -- or at least an attack on -- patriotism and love of country today.

This week we will see him buried, and who knows if he will come back again or not.