Nov 10 2007

Captain America LIVES!… unfortunately

CPT America will be featured in a Veteran’s Day comic sold at military base stores.

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service asked Marvel’s VP for business development to include Captain America and he “agreed because no other character better symbolizes the heroism and patriotism of the American soldier,” the VP said.

That’s funny, kind of. I’d be kind of insulted… well, really insulted if someone said I were as patriotic as Captain Anti-America. Sadly, The Hood (a Marvel anti-hero that trafficks in drugs and blood diamonds and accidentally kills a cop) makes a far stronger case for being patriotic.  He gets extra points for a hilarious reference to Guiliani Time.  

In Marvel’s comics for servicemen, there’s a big two-page spread that puts America in a romantic pose in front of the American flag that wouldn’t have been ridiculous, say, decades ago, when Captain America actually supported the American military.

Captain America, the “Patriot”

Posing CPT America in front of an American flag is horribly two-faced.

  1. Well, he’s a traitor and/or rebel.  He couldn’t bring himself to be as enthusiastic about fighting terrorists and registering superheroes as the government and people expected, which is fair.  Retiring would have been entirely acceptable. Instead he took it upon himself to militarily prevent the government from doing so, which is quite solidly treasonous.
  2. Even before he rebelled in Civil War, his plotlines almost always featured the US government as a nefarious and sinister actor.  The details are blurry to me, but for example he beat the crap out of a sadistic and villainous Navy captain.
  3. He’s never been very enthusiastic about either fighting terrorists or, frankly, America.  National Review argues that CPT America’s New Deal comics show that he is a terrorist sympathizer.  I wouldn’t go that far, but his recurring criticisms of the Dresden firebombing are pretty unrealistically severe for a WWII veteran.  Real soldiers–particularly ones that fought the Nazis, I’d imagine– aren’t that squeamish.  My impression is that servicemen overwhelmingly believe that the WWII bombing raids were justified on the basis of shortening the war and reducing casualties on both sides.  It seems a lot like Marvel’s writers have a certain set of views and they use CPT America as a mouthpiece to voice them, no matter how wildly implausible it would be for a WWII-era soldier to have them.  It would probably be more appropriate, I think, to have a younger America replacement make the revisionist case that the Dresden bombing is wrong;  I think that having the original America justify the bombing is probably truer to the source material, at least Captain America circa 1945. 
  4. There is a major disconnect between the civic values of America’s servicemen and Captain America. America doesn’t seem to mind very much attacking Americans whenever he thinks it’s his duty to do so, which is unsettlingly often.  

Perhaps I should rest assured that “AMERICA SUPPORTS YOU”!  The comics are selling well, I guess, so maybe I’m looking at this too cynically.  I wonder who would admit to buying a comic book on a military base ;-).  I’ll have to ask around at Parris Island this summer.   

On the other hand, Spiderman is pretty kickass.  I’d be OK with his support any time.  Even Wolverine and the Fantastic Four seem to know how it is. 

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