Or – “No Joke From Me This Time…”


Yes, once again I am compelled to do this on the day of release, and once again I must warn anyone reading this that I *WILL* be spoilering large aspects of the story. This will be a full review of Captain America #25. If you don’t want to know what happens right now, DO NOT CLICK the “more” link. This is your only warning, as I’m still completely in shock at the events of this issue, and what few filters I may have aren’t filtering worth a rot…

ca1.jpgThis is a hard issue to read. Even knowing what was coming (and wasn’t THAT a surprise when I logged onto Yahoo news), I still had trouble gettting through this one. We start the issue with sixty-year-old newsreel footage recapping the origins of the man called Captain America… Scrawny 4-F nothing Steven Rogers volunteers for an experimental (possibly fatal) Super Soldier experiment. Rather than dying, he is imbued with speed, strength, agility, possibly even some sort of enhanced mental acuity, but none of this is as impressive as the man himself… A believer in liberty, a supporter of the American way (regardless of the current fashion), a man who will always stand against injustice, greed, cowardice, and evil. The gold standard by which other superheroes can be judged, who has overcome poison, injury, even wounds that should have been fatal. The man who stood toe to toe with Thanos and refused to back down, even though it meant his own death. The man whose life has been symbolic of the truly democratic notion that everyone has something to contribute… Captain America: The Sentinel of Liberty.


Wow. I can get a little purple when I’m in hero-worship mode, can’t I? It’s okay, so can Ed Brubaker. Granted, he’s MUCH better at it than I am. The newsreel is replaced by a newsfeed, and an anchorwoman who vaguely looks like Meredith Vieira reads the update: Captain America has surrendered, the war over registration is finally over. She recaps the events of Civil War, then throws it over to their field correspondent, who is on the scene live, as Captain America is being marched (in chains!) to his arraignment. This amazes and infuriates me. Doesn’t ANYONE remember Jack Ruby? This has fiasco written all over it. Cap detractors and supporters alike have gathered, and the crowd grows every minute. Stuck in the middle, feeling like Abraham Zapruder, is Sharon Carter, agent of SHIELD, and Captain America’s one true love…


Suddenly, the perspective shifts to Sharon’s memory, thinking back to her childhood, watching old newsreel footage of Cap with her aunt Peggy (another retcon, as thirty years ago Peggy was Sharon’s SISTER, but the march of time doesn’t make that believable anymore), remembering how she met Steve as a young SHIELD agent. And SHIELD isn’t the only one with operatives on the scene, folks, because Sharon is being watched… by James Buchanan Barnes, Bucky to his pals. Bucky is livid that Captain America is being forced to make this “walk of shame,” and then he recalls what it was like to work with Cap, a great man who nonetheless considered Bucky a friend, and an equal. This writing is, quite frankly, pretty awesome, putting Captain America in both human and historical perspectives at once. The crowd surges when Captain America appears, and even the abundant security forces have trouble keeping order.


Is it just me, or does Cap look a lot like George Eads of CSI here? And who IS that sniper, anyway? We’re not sure, but we find out who’s behind this horrifically bad idea of a public prisoner transfer: The Red Skull and Doctor Faustus, old-school Cap foes who define evil on a global scale.


One rifle wound in the shoulder… but someone IN THE CROWD follows up with three more bullets to the gut. I know NOTHING about security, nothing about tactics, nothing about strategy, and I can tell you this: THIS WAS NOT NECESSARY. If we take it entirely at face value, somebody in security royally #!@ed up. Red Skull’s influence notwithstanding, surely SOMEBODY in the government knew this was a disaster waiting to happen. If we look at it as a comic book reader (which is tough, because the entire issue is incredibly engrossing) it looks like enough of a setup to find several different ways out of what comes next…


Steve lies bleeding, but the only thing he can think of is the welfare of others. THAT’S the Captain America I know and love. While Sharon tries to save Cap, Winter Soldier/Bucky is on the move, racing to find the shooter, but finding only a busted skylight. Unfortunately, Steve has more than one partner who wants to find the shooter, and suddenly The Winter Soldier is divebombed and knocked flat by Sam Wilson, The Falcon. Falc pins Bucky to the wall, suddenly realizes who he is, and seems nearly homicidal himself…


Falcon realizes that Bucky couldn’t have done it, anymore than he himself could have pulled the trigger. Suddenly, Nick Fury is on Winter Soldiers communicator, and the two men step up to the plate. If Steve is really gone, then we’re probably looking at the two likeliest candidates to replace him. Fury points them in the direction of a fleeing helicopter, and Bucky disables it with a shot. Suddenly, Red Skull’s enforcer, Crossbones leaps out of the ‘copter, tackling Winter Bucky, and careening the two of them through the sky, through a billboard of Iron Man, and landing on a rooftop. Winter Soldier overpowers Crossbones, and we see Bones’ partner Sin watching. She is ordered by radio to finish HER portion of the mission, even though she wants to save her boyfriend from a serious beating. The ambulance screams through the night, and the paramedics are losing their patient. Steve looks up, and mutters “Sharon… so pretty… you… take my… breath…” And with that, the red, white and blue Avenger dies.

The Falcon watches a news talking head numbly, as she announces that Captain America was dead on arrival. He thinks back to his history, how much Cap has done for him, and for the world, and simply can’t wrap his mind around a world without Steve Rogers in it. Neither can Sharon Carter, trying not to burst into tears in a nearby ladies room. A nurse hails her, saying the doctor wants to tell her something. Which doctor, asks Sharon? The closeup reveals Sin in a fright wig, who replies “Doctor Faustus. He says — remember.” Sharon collapses as suddenly, her mind is filled with images…


Oh, no… A million things must be going through her head, but here’s what’s going through mine: NEVER TRUST DOCTOR FAUSTUS. I don’t know if I believe a moment of what she’s seeing here, but I have to admit it makes a sick kind of sense. Who else would have been able to get that close? Even as inept as SHIELD may be, you have to figure they’d at least have SOME sort of hold on firearms in the crowd, wouldn’t they? Faustus is a mesmerist, yes, capable of hypnotizing people into doing his bidding, but moreover, he’s a liar who counts on no one knowing what the truth really is. On a factual level, Sharon has to realize that this could be some sort of trick, just as I do. But, for all my logic, I didn’t just have a perfectly clear memory of killing the man I loved. And here comes the page that made me tear up…


It’s the fact that you can see his face that got me. I’ve seen literally THOUSANDS of comic book deaths, and nothing has had this kind of resonance, not even Barry Allen. They really did it. I don’t know where this is going, I can’t even fathom it right now. I feel stupid for saying this, but it feels like a real person is gone, sort of the way I felt when I heard that Bill Hicks died. It’s not an immediate sort of grief, it’s more a sense of loss for the world.

I knew this was coming from media reports all morning, but even so, it got me where I live. I haven’t been this engrossed in a comic in a long time, and the emotional impact of what happened in this issue is staying with me. I’m hoping that the Marvel Universe feels the pain as well. In fact, it’s such a powerful issue that I can’t be angry about the big swerve at the end of CW, or about the bastardry of Iron Man, or even muster up any real frustration with the powers-that-be at Marvel. This is their big fillip, the hole card they’ve been hinting at for two weeks now, and instead of coming in a huge “event issue” of a crossover, it happened in his own book, with beautiful characterization, the use of his supporting cast and friends, and some very pretty art. I’ll probably regret it later, but right now, just on the basis of the jaw-dropping power of this book, I’m going to give it five stars.



About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. I will admit that i have never read a cap book. But when i heard the news(and even as i write this) i wason the verge of tears.Steve Rogers,even more than superman, embodies everything a superhero(and a human being for that matter) should be. his death is far more heartwrenching that supermans in my opinion. for weeks i heard that cap might die. then the end of the civil war came and went and he was okay. i wrote it off as a rumor. then i hear the news. it was like a bat to the gut. that panel of him in the bed,gone, is one of the hardest things i have ever had to look at in a comic book. the cynical comic reader part of me knows that he will be back. but that guy is overwhelmed by the little boy who grew up with supeheroes as idols. for what its worth, rest well Steve. we miss you. come back.

  2. marc williams on

    This is a character who has lived for fifty years and has been shot at stabbed and so forth this is sensationalism at its best.

  3. I notice it’s not safe to go to court in the Marvel Universe.
    Didn’t Speedball get shot on the way to a senate hearing filled with reporters and a angry mob.

  4. So when do you think he’ll be revived? When sales for Captain America drop because his replacement proves to be unpopular or when his movie goes into production? Oh, and will it be a clone or a temporal copy?

  5. Brent: Remember Superman was dead for a year before he came back to life. I give it less than two years – that is if Marvel is really telling the truth about Steve Rogers being dead.

  6. Suprisingly enough, this is perhaps the best Character Death I have ever, or will ever see. What really rocked me to the core was his face when Sharon collapses. That’s why I’m writing this. Any other writer would have made the face accusing, or compassionate, or whatever. But no…it’s the face of a dead man. He has no expression because he isn’t alive anymore. He’s just…dead.

    I feel that it’s the obvious Superior to ‘The Death of Superman’, in that it was done in a realistic and complex way. Whereas Superman died in a characterised blaze-of-glory, defeating a character created specifically for his Death and collapsing int he arms of the Woman he’s been portrayed with for the last century, Steve Rogers was killed in the same way JFK, Martin Luther King and Gandhi died, a humiliating, unjust Death that immortalises the victim forever.

    The point I’m trying to get across is that it was a real death. Even if the assassin was under semi-impossible Hypnosis treatment (unless, of course, she had a subconscious desire to kill Steve all along), even though the Sniper was hired by a resurrected Nazi who looks like a Red Skull. The fact is, if it had been a gratuitous character-on-character battle, as with Superman – the most likely idea would have been Cap vs Tony – then everyone in the real world would just shrug their shoulders and say ‘He’ll be back next week.’

    The idea that a Superhero such as Cap could be shot down int he street like any normal person is revolutionary and emotive. The audience feels more connected to the character because they can see their own mortality in his. And, it brings to them the shocking realisation that, just as when a real person is shot to death in the street, he ain’t comin’ back, baby. It’s really terrible, but Steve Rogers is…he’s gone. Gone for Good.

  7. Matthew Peterson on

    Actually, with the current Marvel regime, it may be longer than just a year or two. They’re very much aware of the perceptions of the comic readers and are getting pretty adept at swerving our expectations.

    I honestly didn’t see this one coming, so I can’t really predict what comes next. All I can say is, they’ve managed to get the notoriety that they wanted out of this.

  8. Matthew Peterson on

    Oh, and an interesting bit of quote from Quesada’s piece on CBR:

    “One thing that’s been going around today was discussion of a sequence in “Civil War: The Initiative” where there was some talk that Cap was still alive. Can you address that for our readers?”

    Quesada: “I have not read the actual panels that were published, but the truth of the matter is it’s a discussion between Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman or something like that – and I’m about to SPOIL “THE INITIATIVE” STORY for everybody right here, right now, so stop reading if you don’t want to know – but what Ms. Marvel is trying to do is she’s trying to trap Spider-Woman. She’s actually giving her mis-information, none of that is true, but it is an element of the story that eventually gets revealed later on in the story. SPOILER OVER”

  9. I’m not convinced Marvel will keep him dead long. They couldn’t even keep Hawkeye dead for longer than a year, and he has a smaller fan base. I just hope they don’t make another cyborg clone ala Clor somewhere in between.

  10. Wouldn’t it be funny if Marvel was actually telling the truth about Steve Rogers really being dead? How funny would that be to the comic-community?
    Day 1: “I can’t believe Marvel killed Steve Rogers! Those bastards!”
    Month 1: “Yeah I’m sure Cap will return any day now!”
    Month 6: “Man Marvel is sure taking its sweet time bringing Cap back.”
    Year 1: “Hmm… it’s been a year since they shot him. Wonder when he’ll be back?”
    Year 2: “uh… guys?”
    Year 5: “I can’t believe Marvel actually killed Steve Rogers! Those bastards!”
    Year 10: “Steve who?”
    Year 15: “Um, so is that guy wearing the Captain America outfit in your big splash page promotion Steve Rogers or Barry Allen?” To which Dan Didio responds, “Yes! Oh crap, what have I done?”

  11. Matthew Peterson on

    I was of the impression that Bendis wanted the Hawkeye death to be temporary, but multiple clusterschmozz crossovers at Marvel extended his hiatus until House of M… This feels different. For one thing, they made this death at least palatable, with Steve at his lowest point, and a cadre of some of his most dangerous foes working against him. It would almost have to be the Red Skull who finally pulled the trigger on Cap, at least from a storyline perspective.

  12. Hawkeye has been described as the ‘Kenny’ of the Marvel continuity…every chance they get, they’ll think of an even more humiliating Death, followed by resurresction…

  13. First…I don’t believe Steve Rogers is dead. But it could be that I am in denial. Plus how come no one has brought up the Punisher holding Cap’s mask at the end of Civil War? Bucky would be the logical next Captain America but Marvel isn’t operating “logically”. Plus what the hell are Marvel’s plans for Nick Fury. He’s got to be the most used character that you haven’t seen since that “Secret War” crap.

  14. Matthew Peterson on

    Oh, I mentioned Punisher with the mask in the Civil War #7 review. But unless Marvel is going to do the whole “Who will fill the mask?” crap, there’s no way they’re going to undermine their valuable Punisher franchise for more than a month or two.

    I have no way of telling what will come next, and as always, I am taking things “in the moment.” At this moment, I have seen a death. Unlike MOST superhero deaths, I HAVE SEEN THE BODY. I saw an open, unblinking, pretty dead looking eye under a sheet. As of right now, Marvel is treating this as a death, and that’s how I’m gonna look at it.

    What comes next, comes next, and as another legendary bearded fat man was heard to opine, I will spoiler no book… before it’s time. *big swig of booze*

  15. In all honesty, from what I’ve been reading with Marvel lately, and their adherence to continuity, I think this one is permanent. I think it sets up Steve Rogers as all most a Messianic figure, dying in ways similar to those Salieri mentions above, and I think it would destroy their credibility if they went back on it, now or in the future. Think, how long has Jean Grey stayed dead this time? They tend to be sticking to their death toll, except when allowable by plot (e.g. House of M’s return of Hawkeye).
    I think this, coupled with the prior stories of House of M and Civil War, is going to revitalize their stories, and bring back a lot of fans who had strayed from comics back during Spider-Man’s ‘Clone Saga’ days (myself included).
    Since the 9/11 attacks, with the Black Issue of Spider-Man, Marvel has been really trying to encapsulate something of the real world into their books. That issue still makes my chest grow tight. Spider-Man’s unmasking was another moment of surprise and shock, and it is what drew me into Civil War.
    To see Captain America gunned down, especially by Sharon Carter of all people, breaks your heart. He wasn’t my favorite character for many years, but Civil War brought something out of him that most of us could stand behind. No longer the boy scout, now he was a soldier, and fighting for something that we believe in.
    I look forward to what is to come, and I believe Marvel will stay true to their new approach, and to the story twists and turns that have brought so many of us back into the fold.
    Steve Rogers will be missed.

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