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Did the Cap Come Back?

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By the time you read this, the secret of Captain America #600 will be revealed. Bill, writing in the past, has no idea what it is. But he’s still going to talk about it.

Cue the eerie music. This is Bill Gatevackes…speaking to you from the murky depths of history! Wooo!!

Okay, it’s only last week. Due to the deadline for this column being the Sunday before the Tuesday it’s published and Marvel deciding to release Captain America #600 on Monday this week, many of you reading this column will already know the contents of this issue while I am still in the dark. But the buzz about this book is so strong that it has to be the focus for this week’s column.

Here in the past, this issue is being promoted by Marvel as being big. Think national media attention big. Think “Death of Cap” or “Spidey Unmasking” big. It’s so big that they moved the release date for this issue in the direct market from the typical Wednesday to Monday to tie in to some rumored super-secret announcement.

Add to all this the fact that there is a series called Reborn coming out written by Cap writer Ed Brubaker, and speculation is rampant. And it is this speculation that I will be talking about today. Since you, in the present, most likely have the issue in your grubby little hands, you can tell me how close I am or mock how off-base I was.

The prevailing rumor is all this lead up is for the return of Steve Rogers from the dead. Frankly, this is what Marvel wants us to think and it is what fans were expecting when Cap first bit it 26 issues ago in Captain America #25 (Issue #600 technically is issue #51 of the latest volume).

And, of all the known theories, this one is the most logical. Yes, dead is supposed to be dead, but it doesn’t take much imagination to think of plausible ways Steve can return to life. And Steve has still been a part of the book since his passing. He has starred in numerous flashbacks, been in the memories of a number of characters and provided the driving motivation for many of their actions.

Of course, returning the character from the dead will prove certain snotty internet columnists right. It will also go further to demean the nature of death in comics, if that is actually possible. But it is what most Cap fans are hoping for, and they just might get it.

Another, more out there rumor I first heard referred to on Rich Johnston’s Bleeding Cool would be that the issue was moved up to coincide with an announcement pertaining to the Captain America movie. According to Johnston, rumor has it that Will Smith will be cast as the lead in the film, and Marvel will announce a new, African-American Cap the same day.

This one doesn’t hold much water. Yes, there has been an African-American Cap—Isiah Bradley of Truth: Red, White and Black—but there has been no mention of him in the series that I can remember so far. And the current series has plotlines that have developed over time and nothing that has really sprung up overnight. If Isiah Bradley or another African-American was going to be Cap, he’d be announced already.

Do I have any theories? Yeah, I do. It involves the last two, supposedly stand-alone issues of the series, and a one-shot from the Civil War event.

Does everyone remember Civil War: The Return? This was the much hyped issue that was returned Captain Marvel from the dead. But it turned out that it was only a Skrull impersonator. Now, I’m not saying the new Cap will be a Skrull, just that Marvel often does the unexpected with these kind of events.

Now, in issue #49, we see Falcon hunting the 1950’s Cap, an extreme right-wing, racist man who has changed his name and appearance to be more like Steve Rogers. Later in that issue, the fake Cap is seen visiting Cap’s wartime ally, Peggy Carter, in a nursing home, grilling her for info on their supposed WWII adventures.

The next issue featured the new Cap facing off against a unit of armored, right-wing personnel who had a misguided view of the real Steve Rogers and an issue with Bucky taking over the helm.

Now, these plot points seem throwaway in nature, but one thing I’ve learned is that with Brubaker nothing is ever throwaway. Yes, the false Cap being confused for the real one was already touched on in Brubaker’s run. But what if Steve Rogers does return, but it’s not the one we know and love. It’s a possibility, and you probably already know if I’m wrong.

Also out this week:

Batman: Streets of Gotham #1:
Grant Morrison might have gotten more attention with his run on Batman, but I have to say I liked Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen’s run on Detective Comics a lot more. Yes, at times it seemed like Zatanna should have received top billing considering how often she guest starred (I get the feeling Dini really, really likes the character), but their run was as close as you could wish to get to the classic Batman these days.

Now, the team is reunited on this brand new series spinning out of Batman R.I.P. The man in the cape and cowl might be different but you can be assured that the quality will remain the same. If you missed out on the team’s Detective run, you have a second chance here. And, as a bonus, you get a Manhunter second feature as well!

Paul Dini & Marc Andreyko (W), Dustin Nguyen & Georges Jeanty (A), DC Comics, $3.99. Ongoing Series.

Ultimatum: Spider-Man Requiem #1:
Usually, the end of a character’s series would mean the end of his story, especially the way Ultimate Spider-Man ended. But being that it is Spider-Man we are talking about, it isn’t over until Marvel says it is. And Marvel is saying that Spidey deserves a requiem.

They are giving us a two-issue miniseries to wrap things up with a story written from the perspective of J. Jonah Jameson. You expect nothing but vitriol from Jameson, but I imagine that even he wouldn’t speak ill of the presumed dead.

Long time Ultimate Spider-Man fans will be happy to know that this series will feature never before seen art by co-series creator Mark Bagley. So, it will be a perfect send off to the old series and character and a perfect set-up to the new era of the character.

Brian Michael Bendis (W), Mark Bagley & Stuart Immonen (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Two-Issue Miniseries.

Project Superpowers: Chapter Two #0:
If you can say that the success of Superman compelled a legion of other publishers to come up with super-heroes of their own, then you can certainly say the success of Robin inspired them to give their heroes sidekicks of their own.

Therefore, Alex Ross’ examination of the Golden Age public domain characters in Project Superpowers would not be complete without looking at the public domain kid heroes. This is exactly what this chapter of his saga does.

Of course, this chapter starts out like the last one did, with a full-length zero issue that will set up the next chapter for you. If you passed on the first chapter and regretted the decision, here’s your chance to jump on board.

Alex Ross & Jim Krueger (W), Edgar Salazar & Doug Klauba (A), Dynamite Entertainment, $1.00. Preview Issue.

Dead @ 17: Afterbirth #1:
Speaking of death having no meaning in comics, this series characters have a habit of dying and coming back to life. Lead character Nara Kilday has died at least twice, and her friend, Hazy Foss died at least once. But as long as there are demons to fight, they keep coming back.

This time, Hazy is the one in jeopardy. She is something called “The Key to the Abyss,” which I guess is important to the demon folk. And since the real world is slowly turning into Hell itself, whether Nara protects Hazy or not might not have any bearing on whether the Earth can avoid the inevitable apocalypse.

Josh Howard’s series hits the big time as it makes the jump to Image. Let’s see if the move means more fans jump aboard as well.
 
Josh Howard (W/A), Image Comics, $2.99. Four-Issue Miniseries.

X-Men Origins: Gambit #1:
Poor Gambit. He was supposed to be in the last two X-Men movies before his role was cut. When he finally makes it to the silver screen, in this year’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, he appears with another famous mutant making his big screen debut, Deadpool. Guess who gets a spin-off put into development? Not our favorite Cajun.

While Remy LeBeau might not be getting much respect in Hollywood, Marvel is giving him his props. He is the latest X-Character to be featured in their X-Men Origins line of one-shots. So, if you liked him in the movie or are a fan of his comics, then you will find everything you need to know about Gambit right here.

Mike Carey (W), David Yardin (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. One-Shot.


Action Comics Annual #12:
There are some that might argue that annuals are pointless to begin with. Usually, these quasi-yearly issues really don’t serve any purpose except removing stories from inventory. These same people might argue that and an Action Comics Annual without Superman is even more pointless since, well, it doesn’t star Superman.

To answer this criticism, DC is offering in this annual the origin of the stars of the regular series, Nightwing and Flamebird. There are a lot of questions about the identities of these two Kryptonians, and, instead of taking up valuable space in the ongoing series, they are providing the answers in this annual. Yes, it’s an efficient use of the format, and a special treat to fans of the current direction.

Greg Rucka (W), Pere Pérez (A), DC Comics, $4.99. Annual.

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William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY with his wife Jennifer and daughter Vanessa. He also is a comic reviewer for PopMatters, has written for Comic Foundry magazine and is the comic book movie editor for Film Buff Online. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.

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