NEW YORK – One of America's most patriotic superheroes has died.
Marvel Entertainment killed off its oldest character, Captain America, in a comic book that hits stands Wednesday.
In "Captain America No. 25," the former World War II soldier is gunned down on the steps of a courthouse by a sniper's bullet, a victim of a war on terror.
"We've had deaths in the Universe, but with Cap being our oldest character, it gives it a little more resonance," Dan Buckley, the president and publisher of Marvel Entertainment's publishing group, told FOXNews.com.
The decision has already angered the character's creator, Joe Simon, who told the New York Daily News that the death comes at a time when "we really need him now."
Captain America's death "doesn't mean patriotism is dead," Buckley said, explaining that while the man in the costume died in this latest story, the ideals of Captain America did not.
In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Captain America embodied the psyche of the Greatest Generation, standing as a pillar of morality and honesty, and doing the right thing at the right time, Buckley said.
In the comic's lore, this hero was born Steve Rogers on Independence Day, 1917, in New York's Lower East Side. Growing up a scrawny illustrator, Rogers enlists in the U.S. Army, where medical testing turns him into a super soldier against the Nazis.
"Then he was put in a deep freeze, and he was re-awoken in a different time," Buckley said. "So he's always felt a little misplaced, but he kind of represents the Greatest Generation."
The storyline was hatched last March, when writers pitted superheroes against one another in a war over civil liberties that began with the U.S. government requiring the comic crusaders to register their secret identities.
"He sacrifices himself to save someone else, so it really stood up to the ideals that he stood for all along," Buckley said.
It's not the first time a major comic book hero has been killed. DC Comics killed off Superman in a 1993 storyline.
Despite Captain America's demise, Marvel Entertainment plans to continue marketing its Captain action figures and the superhero will still be available for public appearances. And they haven't ruled out his return ... someday.
"Everything is possible in the world of make-believe," Buckley said.