ITEM! So Mercantile Marvel Management did what the Third Reich, the Red Skull, and even Batroc the Leaper couldn’t do — they killed Captain America. Maybe you heard. And then, after the massive media-flurry died down, after the sensational story slowly sank in the sales-boost sea... they brought him back! What’s that you say, Frantic One? Not Yet? They will soon enough. Trust your Uncle Stanley on this one.
Manic Merry Marvelites everywhere might well ask what was the whole point then? Why kill off a major character in an media blitz that sucked in the likes of Newsweek and CNN, who all gave it huge front page coverage? You just answered your own question, sunshine. The so-called “Death of Captain America” story-arc did exactly what it was supposed to do — sell more books. Even celebrated Cap co-creator Jazzy Joe Simon fell for the whole thing hook, line and stinker. He was quoted as saying, “It's a hell of a time for him to go. We really need him now.”
I’d say it’s the oldest salacious sales-boosting trick in comics, but that honor would belong to Yours Truly and the ever-reliable, ever-trusty “Let’s have the heroes meet, have a massive misunderstanding, and then slug it out for 22 pages” trick. Back in the day, that little gem used to be pure sales gold.
But this is the post-modern 21st Century Mighty Marvel we’re talking about. It’s not like back when I was running the show while standing on my desk shouting "Excelsior" to inspire the troops. Although God rest his soul, if Martin “Good Ship Trend-Follower” Goodman could have run his entire comics line on the principles of just selling more movie tickets, trade-paperbacks, and action figures, he would have.
It would be easy to toss another log on the Joltin’ Joe Quesada let’s-end-his-evil-reign-of-terror-now bonfire, but that would be letting Edacious Ed Brubaker off the hook. Not to back-seat plot, but that guy rolls out a story-arc slightly slower than Aunt May’s shuffle board team. My bet is we see Steve Rogers back in uniform as Cap again sometime around issue #50 — over a year from now and two years after he “died.” But he's definitely coming back. It doesn’t take a disenfranchised Chairman Emeritus to figure that out.
The only real question is how? Well your Uncle Stanley is taking all bets, with vivacious Vegas odds to-boot! Baron Brubaker has said in interviews that the Steve Rogers seen in the latest issue of Cap is a.) not a clone (Marvel learned their lesson with that one apparently), and he’s b.) not a skrull (Thank God for that). My bet? Well it takes a sense-shattering Shakespearean storyteller like your Uncle Stan a little bit of effort to put himself in the place of a writer who’s plots are being dictated by what will sell the Most Marvelous Merchandise — about half a step as a matter of fact — so I would have to go with this: the Steve Rogers that appeared in Cap #36 was brought from moments after he was frozen solid in 1945 with time travel technology stolen from Doctor Doom. Then you know what yah got, pilgrim? A "Brand New Day" for Captain America! If it worked for Spidey, then why not Cap? You heard it here first True Believer. And just in time for the 2009 Captain America movie! You have been warned, Marvelites! ‘Nuff Said!