Friday, August 2, 2019

Fallen Son--Crestfallen Friends

In mid-2007, Captain America was dead. Killed by what many believed to be a hidden assassin.

The X-Man and New Avenger known as Wolverine wasn't buying it. Relying on Dr. Strange to both transport him to the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier and keep him from being detected (which Strange emphasized could be no more than ten minutes), Logan's mission is two-fold, albeit not completely to either Strange or Daredevil, who accompanies him: interrogate Crossbones, the alleged killer held in confinement, and use his senses to ascertain whether the body of Captain America is indeed a corpse. In regard to Crossbones, Logan learns that he fired on Cap that day but wasn't the person who made the kill shot. But as for Cap, the evidence is what can best be described as inconclusive, as presented by writer Jeph Loeb in the pages of Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America, a five-issue limited series that must keep mum on the subject presumably for the sake of capitalizing on continued sales pursuing the story. For his part, however, Logan appears to be convinced (repeat: appears to be).

The confrontation, then, opens the door to a series which acts as an elegy to Cap's death:

...and, consequently, can only hang like a dark cloud over

Strange circumstances indeed for one of the semi-regular gatherings among heroes who generally meet in good fellowship to take a break from their hectic lives and concerns in a game that brings together comrades both old and new. This time, however, with members of the New Avengers forced into hiding due to their reluctance to comply with the Superhuman Registration Act, this will be a gathering forced to convene in secrecy. And with Cap's death still fresh in their minds, it all seems a little too soon to put on a pleasant face and strike up a game as if the end of the "civil war" between heroes meant a return to normalcy for all involved.

Nor does it take long for nerves that are already frayed to put many of the players on edge, in a get-together that typically used to have the arriving parties begin to relax and unwind by just walking through the door.

But it's Wolverine's late arrival that throws the admittedly uncomfortable atmosphere of the game into turmoil, since the moment comes following his return from the helicarrier (which helps to explain the state of Dr. Strange as Ben makes his way inside). With Spider-Man clearly not in any frame of mind to receive the kind of news that Logan brings, Ben's hope of the game taking Spidey's mind off of the recent tragedy that's affected all of them in one way or another quickly evaporates, if it hadn't already.

It's never a question who among this crew would break up the fight-that's-not-quite-a-fight. Wolverine's blunt, harsh words aren't likely to throw a bucket of water on it; the runner-up would be Cage, but he's also preoccupied with Cap's death. That leaves the Thing, who everybody at this table knows and who understands their feelings right now perhaps better than they do. He can settle the argument, and he will--but he knows that each of them have to come to terms with this in their own time.

Isn't it curious how Spider-Woman, Iron Fist, and Wolverine have all removed their masks at this point, and Loeb hasn't noted it at all in either narrative or dialog. That implies that the reason they've done so is something the reader should pick up on; I may be wrong, but to me it seems to merely be a way to indicate by way of everyone's dejected expression that the tenor of tonight's gathering isn't likely to change under the circumstances, something Ben is no doubt well aware of. Sometimes misery, indeed, loves--needs--company.


Colin Jones said...

I recall mentioning this before but here it is again:
On BBC radio every Saturday night there's a show called SATURDAY REVIEW, reviews the week's cultural highlights - books, films, plays, TV shows etc. On one particular show they featured the death of Captain America which was rather astonishing because they'd never previously included comic-books on the show. One of the four reviewers said she'd never heard of Captain America which made me literally gasp with astonishment. I wonder if she'd ever heard of Batman or Superman?

Tiboldt said...

While I enjoy the historical relevance of the Thing's psyche attempt on Spider-Woman - after all, Ben was there for her first appearance - surely they must have met at some point in the intervening 30 years?

Also accusing someone of being a Hydra agent at Captain America's wake - little did we know...

Comicsfan said...

Colin, out of curiosity, how old is she? It's understandable if someone is young enough not to be familiar with a comics character, even if it is Captain America--but I would think the character's transition to and presence in lucrative film projects would have increased the odds of the likelihood of her having heard mention of him, particularly if she keeps abreast of trends in entertainment and media. I'd be especially astonished if she wasn't familiar at all with the name "Superman," as the name is dropped on any number of occasions even if the discussion has nothing to do with comics.

Colin Jones said...

CF, I can't even remember the reviewer's name, let alone her age, but the Death Of Captain America saga took place before Cap's movie fame of recent years. However, that's no excuse - I'm still amazed that she'd never heard of such an iconic character, even in passing.

Anonymous said...

Saturday Review leans more to the Art with a capital A end of culture Colin, and isn't the kind of programme you'd expect anyone to know much about comics.

To be fair though, they're pretty open minded - I heard them discussing a Frank Quitely exhibition, and the reviewers were up front about not being familiar with who he was; but they discussed his work seriously like they would with any "fine" artist, and reckoned it was best thing they'd seen in a gallery for ages.

I much prefer that to the usual predicatably bland pr stuff you hear about "graphic novels" in broadcast media.


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