March 8, 2007

Open Letter to Joe Quesada

Dear Joe,

First, I know you have other things to worry about, especially since your publicity department dropped the ball in terms of spoiling Captain America # 25. I'm also sure that you are catching up on reading the comics blogosphere, when you're not doing...well...whatever it is the editor-in-chief of Marvel does. But I wanted to talk about some concerns.

I'm not too upset about Captain America's "death" - not because I dislike the character, but in comics, death is nothing more than an inconvenience. I'm sure there are big plans for Cap to come back in a mega-ultra-crossover, "Captain America: Back from the Dead And Not Happy About It". It will feature 20 issues of Mark Millar writing Cap verbally abusing Iron Man.

But what I am concerned about is your contempt not only for the character, but for comic fans in general.

I'm sure you've seen this post on Kevin's site - the one where Paul Jenkins essentially claims that Captain America is "out of touch" with the common man. You yourself have said that Captain America has not "caught up" with modern times. However, I'm going to make a radical suggestion - that not only are you out of touch, but also that you don't understand what makes Captain America tick.

Captain America is the ultimate soldier - a "Super-Soldier", if you will - who sacrifices himself time and again for the ideals of this great nation. He's not about ideology (I don't think he's either Democrat or Republican), but an ideal - the belief in American principles of freedom and democracy. For Steve Rogers to care about the hip-and-now is irrelevant; he is a character who encompasses both the best of traditional "patriotism" and who tries to apply it to a nation that could use it. Plus, Joe, if you look at your archives, you will note that Cap has dealt with a national crisis of confidence in the past.

Now, I may be taking this way too personally - after all, both of my grandfathers served in World War II. One of my best friends served in the first Gulf War. My cousin served in the Marines. My great-grandparents brought my grandparents to this country years ago because of a promise...and Captain America fights for that promise. Although having a "Death of Captain America" story in itself might not be a bad thing, coming so soon after Civil War...well, it reeks of plot contrivance.

In fairness, I also bought Mighty Avengers and Avengers: The Initiative, and I can honestly say that these books are just flat-out boring and unrealistic. For example - in one of the books, Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman fight, and it ends with one character telling the other "Tony Stark was so going to ask you out." I'm no expert on female psychology, but that just doesn't quite seem right.

Maybe you're trying to court a certain segment of the reading audience, Joe, and that's OK. However, may I suggest taking a cue from your Distinguished Competition - no matter what their faults, they are trying to reestablish a sense of wonder. Of treating its characters like human beings, and reestablishing their heroes as beacons of light and hope in dark times.

Unfortunately, you're slowly, but surely, snuffing them out.

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