July 2, 2009

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Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America

Written by Jeph Loeb
Illustrated by Leinil Yu, Ed McGuinness, John Romita Jr., David Finch, and John Cassaday
Marvel

[I know a lot of people hate Jeph Loeb, but I kinda like the stories I've read by him. I guess everyone has their minority opinion on someone. Then again, I haven't read Ultimatum yet.]

As most people who care know, Marvel offed Captain America after the events of Civil War, for reasons only they know right now. (I'm still arguing that this was a highly advanced Skrull that bought it, but well...) Jeph Loeb, who does superhero comics introspection probably better than anyone else right now, takes a look at how the Avengers (Mighty and New) handle his death, in a 5-issue series that roughly covers the time from the shooting to the funeral.

Named after the stages of grief in a very Loeb-like way, we start with Wolverine trying to find someone to help him get in and see the body. Daredevil eventually volunteers and the two try to get to the facts. They're not what Logan wants to hear, though, but if true, he gives a warning to Stark that I really and truly believe--"If I find out you had anything to do with Cap's death...I'll kill you."

Next up is Anger, as both teams try to deal with their feelings. It doesn't go so well all around, with Ben Grimm of all people trying to calm things down in one area and the "Mighty" Avengers showing that without Cap, the team lacks soul.

Bargaining is a very interesting story, perhaps the best in the set. Iron Man meets the resurrected Clint Barton and provides him with a very tempting offer--continue Cap's legacy. He tries to show Clint his worldview and what he could do as the new symbol of freedom. He's held so many identities over the years--why not this one? What will the former Hawkeye do, in light of watching some of the Young Avengers go into battle, despite their unregistered status? Just because you probably know the answer doesn't make it any less satisfying in the inevitable (at least to me) resolution. Loeb brings out Avengers history here in a nice touch, shows Stark at his most manipulative (without making him overtly evil), and tells a great story in the process.

Depression is the Spider-Man issue, and there's no shock in that. Loeb again hits on Peter's guilt over Gwen's death, Uncle Ben, and the rest. Now the guilt of Cap's death is on the plate, and the only person who can help ease the pain is...Wolverine? This would have been better had JRJR been the artist, I think--it's too tragic for the loose artwork by Finch and Miki. The ending on this one is particularly powerful.

Last up is acceptance, of course, as they lay Cap to rest. It's a tribute to the man, with Sam being allowed to be the focal point, as he should be. Cap's rest is appropriate, and if it is in fact Cap in the coffin (yeah, sue me, I'm doubtful of that), this was a great way to give him final peace. Imperious Rex, indeed, Namor.

Unlike DC's world of Batgod and impossibly powerful heroes that have less flaws than a high-value diamond, Marvel is the world of the broken hero living a broken life. Loeb uses that to full effect here in a great set of stories that is definitely worth the read.