If you haven't read about developments in the Captain America series and want to read the issue coming out today before reading spoilers, stop now. Otherwise, scroll down.
CNN is reporting that Marvel has killed Captain America off in issue #25 of the current series, a follow-up to the god-awful Civil War storyline that I've refrained from commenting on.
The writer, Ed Brubaker, is very good, and you never know how the storyline is going to shake out, but my initial reaction is pretty negative. In a lot of ways, killing Captain America has more cultural impact than killing Superman. Cap is both cultural icon and American symbol, and his death feels a bit to me like someone demolishing the Statue of Liberty. Steve Rogers has quit before. In fact, he's done it a couple of times. But actually killing him? It doesn't seem right to me. And if it's all a big smokescreen and he's not dead, or comes back right away? That seems wrong, too.
America's struggling with a lot of problems right now. Problems of leadership and corruption. Seems like it needs good symbols now as much as at any time I can think of. Not symbols to hide behind or support with jingoistic fervor, but symbols to rely on, to aspire to. Judging by a hint or two in previous comics, it looks like the Punisher might even take Captain America's place for a while. Or maybe the Winter Soldier (AKA Bucky the resurrected). This isn't the time for the good-hearted, straight-shooting Steve Rogers to be out of the Captain America role. This isn't the time for a gritty "realistic" hero to take up the shield. This is the time for our symbol to be a beacon for what America should be and isn't right now.
Say it ain't so.