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Captain America is no more… again.
In the latest issue of Marvel’s current Captain America comic book, written by Ta-Nehisi Coates and illustrated by Adam Kubert, the first chapter of a storyline titled “Captain of Nothing,” Steve Rogers surrenders to authorities after becoming the prime suspect in the death of long-running Marvel Comics supporting character Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, in the process seemingly leaving behind his costumed identity.
All of this is, as it turns out, part of a plan on behalf of the storyline’s primary villains to destabilize the very idea of Captain America that has been slowly unfolding since the series launched last year. As Steve Rogers explains his actions in the current issue, however, the possibility is raised that such a plan may be more successful than many would have expected.
“How can I claim to serve my country when I constantly oppose it? How can I carry this shield and fight the government that entrusted me with it?” he asks, as he prepares to surrender. “Freedom. Democracy. The right of people to choose. This is the world they’ve chosen. This is the world they wanted.” In subsequent narration, Rogers notes that “charlatans had claimed the dream.”
This is far from the first time Steve Rogers has quit the role of Captain America — he resigned in both the 1970s and ‘80s, and has been replaced due to outside circumstances (including his temporary demise) on other occasions. There is, however, something of interest in noting that Coates’ current storyline most closely resembles the first time Rogers abandoned his post, in 1974’s Captain America No. 176.
In that issue, Rogers — reeling from the discovery in the previous issue that the President of the United States was the head of the villainous Secret Empire — says, “In the land of the free, each of us is able to do what he wants to do — think what he wants to think. That’s as it should be — but it makes for a great many different versions of what America is. So when people the world over
That issue was written in response to the then-unfolding Watergate scandal. That Rogers again appears to resign as an American icon, bemoaning the democratic choice of the country, in an echo of that storyline during the era of Donald Trump is unlikely to be a coincidence, especially given the many comparisons made between the two presidents. It’s also a surprisingly bold move from a company whose CEO Ike Perlmutter is a well-known Trump supporter and ally.
The ongoing storyline follows 2017’s Secret Empire storyline, in which Captain America’s history was rewritten, leaving him an agent of the Nazi-adjacent organization Hydra. The story drew a lot of criticism from fandom, leading to Marvel taking the unusual step of asking for patience to let the storyline end as intended before commenting, with the resolution — which returned the classic incarnation of Captain America, punching his evil self — being unveiled days before release by Marvel via a New York Times story.
Where will the current plotline lead? That remains to be seen, but the close of the issue — narrated by Steve Rogers as events unfold around him — offers a clue. “This could never be just about me. It couldn’t even be about another Captain America. The name had been marred. The shield was lost. But believe it or not, there are things in this world older than Captain America. And what I was, what I represented, was a need as old as humanity itself. And the need for freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, well, it is forever,” he explains. “They could jail the revolutionary. But they could never jail the revolution.”
Captain America No. 7 is available digitally and in comic book stores now.
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