In full disclosure, I’m a big Captain America fan. I love the character and what he has come to stand for. That in mind, I wasn’t overjoyed with Sam Wilson becoming Captain America, but I wasn’t against it either. Like most things at Marvel, I thought it could have been handled better. I also think the biggest reason that Sam Wilson got the shield, and mantle of Captain America, was because he was already in the movies.
I thought it was a cool idea having the Super Solider serum removed from Steve Rogers, and turning the clock back for him so to speak. I also thought that it would have been a better story if there had been a tryout to see who should be the new Captain America. I think the try out would have been a good idea, not because there weren’t any likely candidates, but because there were too many good candidates. They could have spun a real good story out of that, with villains looking to throw a wrench into the process, and keep us wondering who might be the next Cap. Personally, I thought that Battlestar would have been a great choice to be the new Cap. Sam Wilson is The Falcon and, despite this stint as the new Captain America, he will be so again, well maybe. I guess we will see if he becomes the new Captain America after the Civil War movie, and is well received.
All that being said, you would think I’d be stoked that Steve Rogers is getting back his super soldier serum, and taking up a shield and tights again, and I am — sort of. You see, my real problem with this has nothing to do with the characters, but the overall culture around comics these days, at least the culture at the big two. Of course Steve is going to be Captain America again; was there any doubt? Not if you read comics on a regular basis. Death has little-to-no meaning in comics, everyone that dies, or retires, comes back, at least if you are a major character.
You see, storylines in comics really have a diminished impact these days, at least at the big two. Everything is just a repackaging of an old storyline with a new villain. Now, you might say that it’s hard to be original with a character that has been around for 75 years, but I would say no. The number of stories you can write about a character is only limited by the creativity of the writers.
The best run on Captain America, in my opinion, was the Mark Gruenwald years. Of all the writers that took the reigns of the character, Mark did the best at really exploring what it meant to be Captain America. Since then I’ve seen far too many recanned versions of the Red Skull menace, or yet another new version of Hydra. If you really want to make some good new Captain America stories, interject some new rogues into his gallery. Cap needs some more villains that challenge him morally. There have been a couple of flashes in the pan during the multitude of reboots Cap has gone through, but in the end, nothing catches the real hard core issues of what it means to be Cap. The best version of Cap in the past ten years has been the version we got from the Ultimates line. The reason this version worked so well was because it was a different spin on the character that was fresh.
So, do I think that Nick Spencer can breathe new life into the character? Not really, but I hope he does. Nick, if you read this, I hope you don’t take this as a slight on your chops as a writer, because that’s not what I mean. The reason I say no is because Nick has to write with the restrictions dictated by the guiding hand of the mouse overlord. I really hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think that I will be.
Marvel these days seems to be a two-headed beast. You get some great movies form them, but when it comes to the comics, and you’re an established character, you’re going to get a serious shakeup. By shakeup, I mean Disney wants to change them around into something that they feel has more appeal. Which makes you wonder how these characters got so popular in the first place. I mean they were popular enough for Disney to drop 4 billion dollars down to get them.
The other side of the coin is the great job Marvel does with their new characters, and when they are reinventing some of the second rung characters. The new Secret Wars was a master stroke at how to rebuild a universe, and not do an official reboot. In the end, if the last twenty some years are any indication, I really don’t think that the new ideas surrounding the character will be all that new, and that’s because the editors will make sure that Steve Rogers still play the bland boy scout role that he has been forced to do for far too long.