Captain America Is Dead. Long Live Captain America

The last eight years have seen a decline in the ideals America stood for. The American people have been more concerned about their own safety than freedom.
Captain America Is Dead. Long Live Captain America
The last eight years have seen a decline in the ideals America stood for. The American people have been more concerned about their own safety than freedom.
Now, before we start debating the success or failure of a certain president, I’m referring to the America where Spider-Man swings from rooftops, the Fantastic Four are bigger celebrities than Brangelina, and the Avengers, led by Captain America and Iron Man, are Earth’s mightiest heroes.

And, for those who don’t know, this is the America where Captain America is dead. The symbol of American patriotism who first came to life on comic book pages in 1941 as a World War II hero was assassinated in Captain America 25 back in August 2007.

But don’t move to Canada yet, the hero is returning in a five-book miniseries beginning on July 1 entitled “Captain America: Reborn.” Though the plot remains tightly guarded by Marvel Comics, the title seems ample.

As written and orchestrated by Brian Michael Bendis and the Marvel Comics editors, the whole thing began when Stamford, Connecticut was devastated by a terrorist attack that destroyed a school and killed 600 children.

Seeing the writing on the wall, futurist Tony Stark, also known as Iron Man, set out to legislate a formal registration so that people with super powers are held accountable for their actions. Those registered would be trained and employed by the government, like a super military. Villains that registered received amnesty for past crimes. Those refusing to register would be arrested and “detained” in a prison in another dimension (outside of U.S. jurisdiction of course).

Holding true to his ideals, Captain America saw this as an attack on civil liberties and opposed the registration. The result: a super-powered civil war erupted.

The war, like most wars, turned out to do more harm than good. After civilians condemned those fighting on both sides for the destruction they caused, Captain America surrendered. Before he could stand trial for treason, he was assassinated on the courthouse steps. In story time, that was a year ago.

This all changes on July 1, when “Captain America: Reborn” hits comic book shops across the country.

“Why is this a big deal?” you might ask. “Superman died and came back. It’s just a comic book.”

True, in the world of superheroes, nobody stays dead long. But, this isn’t just any super hero. Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America, is the quintessential modern American patriot. He began as a scrawny World War II recruit who loved his country so much that he sacrificed his life to be a lab rat, because he couldn’t sacrifice it as a soldier.

In some ways, his death in 2007 marked the death of American integrity, honor, and ideals, leaving the whole American identity in a kind of limbo as it gestates and reforms itself. The country hasn’t been the same. To this day, even comedian Stephen Colbert, the most patriotic man in any universe, honors Captain America’s death by hanging the hero’s iconic shield in his studio.

As deeply symbolic as his passing was, Captain America’s return will be just as meaningful.

In time to celebrate Independence Day, Captain America’s rebirth in comic books harkens a new dawn for our country, with a new president who is challenging the status quo and pushing America to bring it to the next level.

We’re even seeing it throughout the rest of the world. The freedom that Captain America defends is infectious and it waves its mighty fist in the face of evil in places like China and now in Iran.

It’s simple. The people want a voice, and hope, and a government that works to protect them and give them a fair chance to make a better life. That’s what Captain America is. That’s what we lost when he died. His return couldn’t have come at a better time.

Captain America 600 is on comic book shelves now. His return in “Captain America: Reborn” arrives July 1. “The First Avenger: Captain America” hits theaters July 22, 2011.

Stefan Mantyk is a writer living in Warren, Michigan.
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