Hooked on comics

David Evans

One KSU student grieves the loss of his life-long hero

On March 7, a beloved hero and icon died.

After 66 years of fighting Nazis, Japanese forces, super villains, communists and an occasionally corrupt American government, Captain America met a tragic end on the steps of a federal courthouse in issue number 25.

Sophomore Sebastian Clark heard about the death of Captain America through a classmate in his World Politics class. At first, he did not want to believe it, but when his monthly issue came in the mail the next day, his fear was confirmed: He saw his hero sprawled out, covered in his own blood after being shot by a sniper.

“I felt like a family member died and of course my friends made fun of me, because he is just a comic book character,” Clark said. “My response was ‘How long have you known your best friend?'”

One can tell Clark loves comics just by looking at his left arm – it’s covered in tattoos of the characters. On the inside of his left bicep is a black outline of Captain America, which at the time he did not have the money to color in. Other Marvel comic staples, such as Peter Parker and Thor cover his arm.

“I decked my arm out in the most ridiculous Marvel images,” he said. “I haven’t liked anything the way that I do comics in 19 years. They mean certain things to me.”

Clark said he has loved comic books, especially Captain America, since birth.

“I was brought home from the hospital in a Captain America onesy and had a stuffed shield,” Clark said.

Clark said his grandfather played a big role in getting him hooked on comics.

He remembers looking at his grandfather’s comics and watching his grandfather’s tapes of old superhero cartoons.

In a storyline that started in 2006, Captain America opposed a new mandatory federal registration of all super-powered beings and began an Anti-Registration resistance movement. In a climactic battle, he realized that civilians were being endangered and the city was being destroyed, so he removed his mask and surrendered as his alter-ego Steve Rogers. On his way inside the courthouse he was shot three times and later died in the hospital.

“The way he died made me the most upset,” Clark said. “I assumed it would be in battle, that he would die a warrior’s death.”

Clark expressed his disgust in a letter he wrote to Joe Quesada, the editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics. A couple of days later, Clark got an apologetic response e-mail, in which, Quesada expressed that it is always difficult when people die before they should.

Most readers agree. Terry Bigrigg of Land of Cran Comics in Jackson Township, said that Captain America #25 sold out the first day. He added that the customers who bought up their supply were not happy to see Captain America dead.

“I haven’t looked anything up on comics since he died,” Clark said. “It’s upsetting.”

The death even came as a blow to Captain America co-creator Joe Simon, 93, who told The Associated Press, “We really need him now.”

To his fans, Captain America was not just another super hero. He represented things that others like him did not.

“(He offered) morality, perseverance. He takes the experiment as a true blessing. He was completely selfless,” Clark said.

The experiment to which Clark referred gave Rogers his powers. Too frail to join the military during World War II, he volunteered to take part in a super-solider experiment.

“Steve Rogers was just a good person,” he said.

Another sign that Clark is more than just your average fan is that he calls the characters of the characters in the Marvel Universe by their real names – usually referring to Steve Rogers, instead of Captain America.

“Comics are just more compelling than most things out there,” Clark said. “They provide an escape. I usually deal with dickheads all day and it’s nice to know someone is fighting for what they believe is right.”

Fans have not seen the end of Captain America: He is set to hit the big screen in July 2009. Marvel also has fans excited with its plan to release “Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America.” The new comic will last five issues – each spotlighting a different Marvel hero who is dealing with a different stage of grief. Captain America himself will be the focus of the bargaining issue.

“No, I don’t think they will bring back Steve Rogers,” Clark said. “I think they’ll bring Captain America back. Hopefully (the replacement Captain) can wear the suit and garner the weapon as well as he did, not just physically, but emotionally.”

Clark said he doesn’t think Captain America can ever die; he believes the ideals he promoted will carry on forever.

“Since they killed him, I’m not going to get my Captain America tattoo colored in. Maybe just shaded with gray,” Clark said.

Contact ALL correspondent David Evans at [email protected].