- Posted by Johanna on June 1, 2011 at 2:54 pm
- Category: Comic News
I’m not kidding, I’m going to talk major Marvel spoilers here for a comic that came out today, so please click through (or continue reading in the feed) only if you’re aware of that.
Of the three Marvel comic book movies this summer — Thor, X-Men: First Class, and Captain America: The First Avenger — I was most looking forward to the latter. However, I was just made aware of something that I blame the movie for, which is leaving a bad taste for me going to see it.
In today’s Fear Itself #3, they kill Bucky, the Winter Soldier. Now, this is an odd death to get upset about. Bucky used to be — along with Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben, the Barry West Flash, and Supergirl — one of the very few inviolate deaths in the superhero universes. All but one of them have since been brought back, of course, because superhero writers get the biggest pop from strip-mining history and sucking up to nostalgic fans (who wind up disappointed, but that’s another post).
So Bucky should have stayed dead to provide Cap some trauma in his otherwise shiny patriotic background. He didn’t, and that’s ok, because good stuff was done with him, creating stories that were worth reading. Until now. (Apparently, his adventures will continue in the new Captain America and Bucky, but it won’t be the character I came to enjoy reading about. I liked that he’d had a tortured, unfortunate past to live up to, because it gave him depth and something to atone for. CAB will be a retro flashback set in WWII, presumably featuring a teenage, gee-whiz Bucky.)
I’m not surprised that Marvel is killing a character in order to make their latest big event crossover seem meaningful. (You could make quite the interesting chart of all the superhero company crossover events just based on who died in which ones.) But then I remembered that a week ago, Marvel released Onslaught Unleashed #4, during which they killed Nomad, an alternate universe female version of Bucky (at least in terms of being Cap’s sidekick). Rikki Barnes came from the Heroes Reborn universe but was most recently a founder of the Young Allies.
I’m drawing an unpleasant conclusion here. With the Captain America movie due out July 22, I suspect Marvel’s clearing the decks to keep their brand clean. They want new readers (those hypothetical creatures who rarely actually start buying comics after liking a superhero film) to avoid being confused, so they’re killing off anyone similar so Cap can get his “proper” costume back in the Marvel universe. After all, why would anyone want to read about a patriotic girl sidekick when they can get one of the many many collections featuring Steve Rogers and only him? Why should they sell a younger, confused version of their hero (who has more appeal to today’s readers) when they can stick with the same one they’ve been publishing for 70 years?
I shouldn’t expect anything different, I guess, now that Marvel’s part of one of the biggest and most accomplished at tie-in marketing movie studios in the world. It’s all about the brand, baby, and just mow down those who get in the way. They’re only ink on paper, after all.