As a political science major in college and a comic book junkie most of my life, I have written about both subjects, and have mostly kept the two separate. But once in a while something significant comes up in the comic community that bears deeper scrutiny. And as a member of that community I have some thoughts on all the Captain America news recently.
Let’s get the tedious news out of the way first. I’m not sure exactly when this all started but there seems to be this bizarre mission by a small minority in the LGBT community that wants to make Captain America gay. Groups like GLAAD (formerly the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) are pushing an idea of Captain American and Bucky Barnes’ friendship to be something more (wink, wink). This is silliness of course.
Jack Kirby and Joe Simon did not create a gay Captain America, period, end of discussion. In fact, quite the opposite actually as the Star-Spangled Avenger was no stranger to the ladies over the years, having had relationships with the likes of Betty Ross and Peggy Carter, to name a few. GLAAD is more than welcome to create their own gay superhero and that would be perfectly fine, but there is no need for their bias agenda to be infused into a Captain America story line. Now, on to the more important news.
In his 75th year, Captain America is getting a warped plot twist in Marvel’s new series Captain America: Steve Rogers. In the first issue, the icon who has been around since the 1940s is now being made by writer Nick Spencer to Hail Hydra and to cross lines never crossed before. Like forcibly throwing a teammate that just saved his life out of an airplane. And just so we’re all on the same page here, Hydra is a worldwide subversive organization dedicated to global domination. That would be the direct opposite of liberty and everything the good Captain stands for.
When Captain America #1 was released in March 1941 the first issue showed Cap on the cover cracking Hitler in the face. In the Golden Age of comics he was a symbol of liberty, a Nazi ass-kicker, and from the reading I’ve done, Kirby and Simon pulled no punches in properly identifying who the enemy was. As WWII ended, in the comic books Captain America killed Red Skull proving part of his purpose was to thwart evil. Then, in 1954 Marvel revived him impart to fight Communism as it started to spread in certain parts of the world. In other words, there is serious historical significance with Captain America and comic books. The man has a longstanding history of fighting for America and Liberty, and against tyranny and evil. Examine the powerful panels below, and see Cap’s patriotism leap off the page as he tells Baron Zemo (who was a scientist in the Nazi Party), “Feel my grip, Zemo! It’s the grip of a free man!”
My friends, we have gone from the above, to Captain America now being a “Hydra agent all along,” as stated by Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort. It’s as if the House of Ideas has run out of ideas and is resulting to cheap shock factor tactics in order to create industry buzz and boost sales. Also worth pointing out is the timing of this news, which went public on the day of rival DC’s new Rebirth launch. Coincidence? I highly doubt it. This all seems rather deliberate as Brevoort also said, “We knew it would be like slapping people in the face.” How thoughtful, but that’s not exactly what I’m looking for when I buy a comic book.
Not that long ago Marvel released a free Captain America 75th Anniversary Magazine. It contained some great articles and interviews that were worth reading. One of which was a Q&A with Joe Simon’s son, Jim Simon, where he was asked what he thought his Dad was most proud of concerning Captain America. Here’s what he had to say:
“I think he was extremely proud that he created, with Jack, a hero for all time–a hero who embodied the better values of what America stood for and, I hope, will continue to stand for.”