Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Sam Wilson calls it quits as Captain America?

As an op-ed writer, I'm prone to speculation. It's great to be right, but sometimes I'd prefer to be wrong.

This is one of those times.

When I was catching up on about six months of CAPTAIN AMERICA: SAM WILSON, I suspected there may be some ominous ending or event coming up. This was based on my close observations of the Facebook-like recap-splash page. I based my educated guess on the slowly decreasing battery percentage.

"Something tells me this important," I wrote in a review/op-ed published here March 9. Two of the questions I proceeded to ask were: "Will it bring about a new era for Captain America? Is this a countdown of Wilson's time as Cap?"

I hoped I was wrong. The cover to issue 21 -- revealed on the last page of the previous issue (as the other issues have done throughout this series) -- told me all I needed to know. And dreaded seeing.

Daniel Acuña's cover is an homage to CAPTAIN AMERICA (Vol. 1) No. 176. This is when Steve Rogers gave up being Cap for what would be his short time as Nomad, a hero without a country.

Acuña designed his cover to reflect the "Secret Empire" issue, right down to Wilsons's colleagues D-Man, Misty Knight and the new Falcon looking on in dismay as Wilson walks away from his discarded Captain America uniform -- just as Rogers did in 1974. The trio are as stunned as Thor, the original Falcon (Wilson), Sharon Carter and Iron Man were 43 years ago.

Just as Rogers returned to his Captain America persona after a handful of issues, I hope that's the same for Wilson.

But just like in 1974, 2017 is a trying time for Captain America. Being a man of integrity, Wilson says he knew the best way to honor Rogers' legacy as he was handed the shield was to be himself -- nothing more and nothing less.

And when he "started to feel like something was missing," Wilson became more community-oriented and "tried to use the costume to start a conversation to try to change people's minds and break down some of these divisions."

But Cap -- just like the original in the 1970s -- has seen too many intolerable injustices. And he's feeling hopeless.

Wilson puts it eloquently: "The reality is if you're going to wear the flag you have to believe in it. Fully and completely. You have to believe that you're standing up for what is right and good. Now, I love my country, but I can't endorse what I'm seeing right now."
This is the final page of CAPTAIN AMERICA: SAM
WILSON
No. 21.

Over the course of many issues, I've seen Wilson become more and more frustrated, if not disgusted. Every move or countermove he made to the injustices he saw led to seemingly even tougher situations.

The brother just couldn't catch a break -- and that doesn't even count the "#takebacktheshield" movement. And let's be honest, that was as much about people being anti-Wilson, resistant to change and likely prejudice than it was about wanting Steve Rogers being the only and/or their preferred Captain America.

As I wrote when I reviewed issue 1, "much like Charlie Brown, Wilson's Cap can't win for losing."

After frustrating setback after another, Wilson just couldn't take it anymore.

But if Nick Spencer's take on "Secret Empire" is anything like Steve Englehart's quintessential storyline, I expect to see a couple interim Caps until Wilson takes back the shield. (Did you notice the boy who had been wearing the Rage mask was designing a Patriot costume when his mother called him to dinner? And using an Englehart CAPTAIN AMERICA issue -- No. 171, specifically -- as inspiration?)

This Caphead is hopeful that Wilson will return as Captain America. He's the best man for the job -- especially now that Spencer is trying to make us believe Rogers always has been a Hydra agent.

(That's a really good reason for me not to read the CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS series any longer. I tried really hard to stick with it and figure out "what the Hail Hydra was going on" with Steve Rogers' new, Hydra-based childhood, but I just couldn't. That ain't "my" Captain America, folks -- no way, no how! See my Facebook post below for that rant.)

Captain America -- whether it's Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes or Sam Wilson wearing "the flag" and carrying the shield -- is a man who symbolizes hope and promise. And I hope Wilson only temporarily steps away.

Meme created by CARY ASHBY/CARY'S COMICS CRAZE
in May 2016

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