As comics fans began to process the plot twist that killed Captain America yesterday, many of them refused to believe that Marvel would really close the book on one of its most enduring characters, and started looking for loopholes in the story that could forecast his return. So the company issued a clarifying statement emphasizing once again that “yes, Captain America, Steve Rogers, is dead.”
But as I pointed out yesterday, they aren’t cancelling the Captain America comic book, and the costume is still out there in the Marvel Universe, and, heck, it won’t even be the first time somebody else has assumed the role. The question is who…and it’ll possibly be answered in Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America, a five-issue miniseries scripted by Heroes producer/screenwriter Jeph Loeb and drawn by five all-star artists. Why five issues? As Loeb explains to Newsarama, the storyline is one big allegory for the stages of grief associated with death: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. (Each issue focuses on the reaction of a different Marvel character; nobody will be terribly surprised to learn Spider-Man is tapped for depression) “Being a fellow comic book fan myself,” Loeb says, “I’m sure this story is very shocking and upsetting. My intention is to try and wrestle those feelings to the ground. It’s not easy what Marveldom is going through and it won’t be for fandom either.” Yes, the company will be crying all the way to the bank, I’m fairly certain, especially after Fallen Son gets collected in a trade paperback edition.
In the comics commentary wing of the blogosphere, Heidi MacDonald of The Beat laments, “You see that nothing sells that isnâ€™t a franchised tie-in these days… It seems that every bit of PR, hype or creator comments that we have seen from DC and Marvel alike is all about how THIS ties into THAT and how if you read that other mini epic you’d be STUNNED when you find out really happened.” Dirk Deppey of Journalista! isn’t too concerned: “It’s only a major source of worry if your concern is mainline Direct-Market breadwinners rather than comics as a whole.” He continues:
“Superhero comics turning into a more elaborate clusterfuck, attracting hardcore nerds and repelling everyone else? Big deal. Something else will rise elsewhere to fill whatever active demand isn’t being met by superhero comics… When the superhero nerds die off and comics shops follow them into oblivion, comics will still be available at Borders, or online, or from some other outlet that sees a buck to be made.”