Thursday, March 08, 2007

Breaking News: Captain America Assassinated! (as in: "Character Assassination")

I can only think of two superheroes that symbolically represents the American spirit: DC Comics' Superman, who fights for "truth, justice, and the American Way (see my previous post)"; and Marvel Comics' Captain America. Yesterday, the latter was killed by a sniper's bullet on the steps of a courthouse building.

Now, I grew up on Marvel Comics, with Peter Parker/Spiderman being my earliest favorite. But I have not followed comic books for years. Still, it comes to my attention that Marvel has been using a storyline called "Civil War" as a political allegory, for a post-9/11 world. I thought to myself, "This can't be good"; and I think my fears are correct. Maybe I'm wrong, as I don't have all the details; but I suspect the editor-in-chief and the current staff at Marvel have used (or abused) the comic medium to push their liberal agenda, in the guise of being probing and analytical. From what I read, there seems to be an assumption that the Patriot Act is a bad thing- that it has robbed us of civil liberties (the premise of the series is built around this question: "Would you give up your civil liberties to feel safer in the world?" ); and the writers at Marvel see themselves as politically educated enough to write an allegory, examining the balance of civil liberties against security. After reading a summation of "Civil War", I have no doubt that the balance is tilted to sympathize with the Superheroes against the Superhuman Registration Act (the allegorical equivalent to the Patriot Act).

The assassination of Captain America at the hands of a sniper isn't what I take issue with. What I find offensive is this: Guess which side they put Captain America on? The symbol of America who has been fighting the bad guys since around 1941 (the first issue has him punching Adolf Hitler in the jaw, before America was even at war), appears to be a liberal Democrat (or possibly a libertarian, which is nothing more than a disgruntled conservative who bellyaches about the size of government and civil liberties). That really makes me want to puke.

Why am I blogging about a frakkin' comic book? Because this is part of the political indoctrination of America's youth that I find reprehensible. As the editor-in-chief says in an interview, kids are just looking for a good superhero vs. superhero slugfest. But while they're getting what they want, they are also given what liberal writers want to give them: an influence on their unsuspecting, impressionable mind.

They may delude themselves into thinking that they are presenting a fair and evenhanded treatment of the political undercurrent running through the series; but I have no doubt where their sympathies lie; and it is transparent that readers have been manipulated to emote with the rebel superheroes who defy the American government authority. Even Spiderman switches sides, and gives endorsement and credibility to the moral rightness of the resistance movement.

For those who want a 30 second summation of the "Civil War" plot, this is as good a synopsis as any. Enjoy!

The writers and editors of this series are no more politically neutral than news journalists who fool themselves into thinking that they are "above politics" and nothing more than detached, impartial observers of the news events of the day.

The Patriot Act hasn't robbed us of our civil liberties; it is what has made the continuation of our civil liberties possible. For shame, Marvel! For shame! Excelsior my ass!

Go Ironman!

Also blogging:
The Further Adventures of Indigo Red

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Blogger Gayle said...

I guess we should have known the asshats would take over the comic books too! Millions of children love comic books; what better way to indoctinate them to the liberal agenda? Actually, I believe I'll copy a Canadian Blogger (ABFREEDOM) who refers to liberals as "lieberals" because that is exactly what they are!

Excellent find regarding this post, Wordsmith. Looks like we need some conservatives in the Comic Book industry as well as in the Movie industry. I'm sure you noticed (if you saw it) that in the last Superman movie they didn't have Superman say that he fought for "Truth, Justice and the American Way." Superman always said that, but not any more! :(

Thursday, March 08, 2007 7:08:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Gayle, I think you might have even heard that one from me (did you notice a link attached to my reference of Superman in this post?).

As one blogcommenter noted in one of the links provided, "This is like coming home and finding someone just masturbated all over my favorite books."

Thursday, March 08, 2007 8:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Flag Gazer said...

The left wants to make sure we have no American heroes - they have ignored the real ones as best they can and now they are killing our fantasy ones.

Yet, they will elevate Anna Nicole to a status far beyond her miserable life.

Recently, I was helping a little one with her reading - see had an Archie comic book. It was filled with sexual inuendo...geez.

Thursday, March 08, 2007 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

I had heard this too and was peeved as all get out!..Sure they want to get to the impressionable young minds too!..Grrr!!!

Thursday, March 08, 2007 9:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anna said...

The conservatives are in the comic book business, they are the ones with the million $$ collections, not running the industry, unfortunately.

Friday, March 09, 2007 5:57:00 AM  
Blogger Gayle said...

That's true, Wordmsith; I did see that post and left a comment on it. I wish you could have heard Walt rant when he saw that movie! :)

Friday, March 09, 2007 6:21:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Captain America, RIP

As a superhero, he changed along with the country.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007 12:01 a.m.

Last Wednesday morning, while most people kibitzed about Scooter Libby over their morning coffee, Captain America was murdered on the steps of the federal courthouse in New York. Captain America (real-life identity: Steve Rogers) is survived by his crime-fighting partner, Bucky, and his girlfriend, Sharon Carter, who may have fired the fatal shots while under the control of the evil Dr. Faustus. Such are the perils of romance.

The death of Captain America became, quite improbably, a minor cultural event. According to Joe Quesada, the editor in chief of Marvel Comics, Marvel made the decision to kill Cap 18 months ago, while it was plotting the direction of its seven-issue limited series "Civil War," which details the rift between heroes following a law that required superheroes to register with the government.

Marvel kept the decision to kill Cap secret. The final issue of "Civil War" was released in February, and last week issue 25 of "Captain America" arrived on the doorsteps of the nation's 2,000 comic-book shops.

Owners unpacking the boxes of new inventory were shocked to find Cap lying dead in a hospital on the final page. There was a flurry of chatter on the Internet. Within hours, the wire services picked up the story, and people crowded into neighborhood comic-book shops. By noon, the issue was sold out and fetching hefty sums on eBay.

There is an old joke about death in the comic-book world: No one stays dead except Bucky, Jason Todd and Uncle Ben. Over the years Superman, Phoenix, Green Arrow and a legion of other heroes have perished, only to be resurrected by their publishers in reasonably short order. Even this Bucky Clause of hero death has begun unraveling as both Bucky and Jason Todd (who replaced Dick Grayson as Robin) were recently brought back to life. This was, in fact, the second time Captain America journeyed to the undiscovered country.

Cap was born in March 1941, when a scrawny Steve Rogers tried to enlist in the Army. Rejected because of his feeble physique, Rogers volunteered for a secret government program attempting to create a super soldier through genetic enhancement. Alas, just as all robots eventually rebel and kill their masters, all government attempts at genetic manipulation are doomed to go awry.

The scientist heading the super-soldier program ended up dead, but Steve Rogers became a specimen of physical perfection, with heightened reflexes and enhanced strength. The Army sent him into battle with a red, white and blue shield and the moniker Captain America.

The cover of the first issue of Captain America showed Cap socking Hitler with a right cross nearly a year before America declared war on Germany. A champion of American freedom, Cap's popularity soared during World War II as he battled Nazis and the Japanese with Bucky at his side.

After the war, sales of Captain America dwindled; the title was canceled in 1950. As Bradford Wright details in "Comic Book Nation," Marvel brought Cap back several years later as a Cold Warrior: "Captain America . . . Commie Smasher." This time, he and Bucky fought communist agents "who hid behind the privileges of a free society in order to subvert American institutions." The series sold poorly and was dropped after a few issues.

Captain America changed with the times. He returned in 1964 and found renewed fame, but not as the same rock-jawed, stalwart soldier. In 1969 he was paired with the first African-American superhero, the Falcon. In one small sign of how comics were evolving, the Falcon's alter ego, Sam Wilson, was a Harlem social worker.

As Vietnam raged, Captain America stayed home. In 1971 Marvel's Stan Lee wrote that Cap "simply doesn't lend himself to the John Wayne type character he once was" and that he "could not see any of [Marvel's] characters taking on the role of super-patriotism in the world as it is today." Instead, Cap became a Great Society superhero, battling, as Mr. Wright puts it, "poverty, racism, pollution, and political corruption."

Consider this monologue from a '70s issue in which Cap muses: "I'm like a dinosaur--in the cro-magnon age! An anachronism--who's out-lived his time! This is the day of the anti-hero--the age of the rebel--and the dissenter! It isn't hip--to defend the establishment!--only to tear it down! And, in a world rife with injustice, greed, and endless war--who's to say the rebels are wrong? . . . I've spent a lifetime defending the flag--and the law! Perhaps I should have battled less--and questioned more!"

While he avoided Vietnam, Captain America dove head-on into Watergate. He took up arms against a thinly veiled version of the Nixon White House, which was linked to a McCarthyite conservative political group called the Committee to Regain America's Principles, or "CRAP." But this CREEP knock-off wasn't merely attempting to re-elect the president using dirty tricks. Instead, CRAP was a front for a cabal of actual fascists who were plotting to take over the country. The leader of the conspiracy was, naturally, the president.

After being duped by the president, Cap dropped his hero name and became, briefly, "Nomad, the man without a country."

Given his political progress it is not surprising that by the time "Civil War" began, Cap was quoting Thomas Paine and couching his opposition to the superhero registration act in terms of civil liberties. Marvel now seems poised to use his death as the focus of a large-scale debate on the balancing of freedom and security.

"Captain America" will probably return. Ed Brubaker, the current writer of the series, won't divulge details, but comments in an interview with the Web site Comic Book Resources, "I've got the next two years of Cap plotted, if that says anything." Fans have already concocted several plausible resurrection scenarios.

But before looking toward his next incarnation, it's worth pausing to appreciate that even at this late date, Captain America's death still meant something. Partially, this was due to the simple fact that Marvel was able to keep his murder a surprise--something of a wonder in an age when every other happening comes prehyped and presold. (Mr. Quesada reveals that the editors went to great lengths to keep the secret, engaging in a quiet campaign of disinformation and even going so far as to leak fake covers to throw fans off the scent.)

Ultimately, it is wonder that we need most from comic books. The wonder that a man can fly or that a skinny American kid with a stout heart can pick up a shield and deck the Führer. With his death last week, Captain America gave us that sense of wonder once more.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007 11:38:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

From The LA Times:

Captain America, RIP
What the comic book hero's career, and demise, say about our country.
By Jacob Heilbrunn, JACOB HEILBRUNN, a former Times editorial writer, is completing a book on neoconservatism.
March 9, 2007

FORGET THE endless congressional debates about Iraq. The most telling measure of America's current distemper can be found in a more mundane place — in the gory assassination of Captain America in issue No. 25, which hit the stands Wednesday.

The startling demise of Captain America, who until recently had been leading an underground insurgency against a government 9/11-style "Superhuman Registration Act" that forced superheroes to divulge their secret identities, captures the growing sense that America itself is floundering in the war on terrorism.

That message hasn't been missed by conservatives such as Michael Medved, who complains that Captain America is setting a terrible example for America's youth by turning soft on terrorism and is "anti-American." But a look at Captain America's evolution over the decades suggests he should not be dismissed so easily. In fact, Marvel Comics has almost always had a perfect feel for America and its moods.

Over the years, Captain America's story has accurately reflected U.S. attitudes, as our country moved from the self-confidence of the early Cold War to the guilt-ridden angst of the 1970s to the revival of national pride that characterized the Reagan 1980s.

Unlike Superman, who was created in the midst of the Depression, Captain America was a direct product of the fight against Nazism. The creation of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, the comic debuted in 1941, just months before the U.S. officially entered World War II.

A prototypical 99-pound weakling who suffers the ultimate humiliation of being rejected as too frail for military service and stamped 4-F, Steve Rogers promptly volunteers for a U.S. government experiment run by a scientist code-named Professor Reinstein, who is concocting a "super serum" to create a new cadre of soldiers.

Rogers, whose wimpiness makes him the perfect candidate, is whisked away to a secret laboratory in Washington, where he is injected with the super serum and zapped with "vita-rays." Rogers, however, remains the New Deal everyman in spirit. He has the ability to bench press 800 pounds, amazing agility and indomitable willpower — but no supernatural powers. His only weapons are his fists and his invulnerable shield.

Captain America and his sidekick, Bucky Barnes, are sent off to battle the Nazis, and throughout the war, they daringly go behind the lines to administer a pasting to Hitler and his minions. It is only near the end of the war that Rogers and Bucky fall from a Nazi plane into the Arctic.

In the 1950s, a few issues appeared, but the strip went nowhere as comics focused on horror stories. It took Marvel mastermind Stan Lee to revive Captain America. In 1964, Captain America, who had been frozen in a block of ice, is fished out of the North Atlantic by the new superhero group "The Avengers." They realize that Captain America had remained in a state of suspended animation that prevented him from aging.

Initially, Rogers, the perfect square, fits in perfectly with the early 1960s Cold War ethos, battling the bad guys who seek to destroy the American way of life. But it was only when Rogers' complacent view of U.S. society and government was undermined by the Vietnam War and the rise of the counterculture that the comic book really took off. By the mid-1970s, the credulous square had been replaced by a disillusioned cynic. The brilliantly imaginative writer Steve Englehart had Captain America exposing a kind of Watergate — a "Secret Empire," complete with a Committee to Regain America's Principles (CRAP), in a play on Nixon's real-life Committee to Re-elect the President (CREEP).

The Secret Empire series reaches its climax with Captain America racing into the White House to apprehend the leader of the Secret Empire, only to discover to his horror that the leader is, in fact, the president himself — Richard Nixon, of course, although he's not depicted. A disillusioned and heartbroken Captain America hangs up his uniform and shield to adopt a new persona — "Nomad." Like the U.S. itself, Nomad is in search of his true identity now that the ideals he once believed in have been besmirched.

By the 1980s, the crisis is over. In truth, by this time, Marvel Comics had turned Captain America into something of a neoconservative. Marvel caught the rah-rah spirit of the Reagan years, offering a stirring retelling by the traditionally minded artist John Byrne of Captain America's origins in its 40th anniversary issue in 1981. The issue, which features a 1940s-style heroic cover, ends with a contemporary Captain America returning to his Brooklyn apartment, wondering whether it's actually worth the effort to be a superhero. Then the television blares forth the strains of "The Star Spangled Banner." "It's worth it," Captain America proudly says to himself. The time for questioning authority has passed.

Cut to 2007. Today, in his latest incarnation, Captain America has morphed yet again, this time into the champion of the common man — defending individual liberty against an oppressive government that he once loyally served. To his credit, he calls on his troops to surrender once he sees the general devastation taking place in Manhattan. "We're not fighting for the people anymore," he says. "We're just fighting." Sound familiar?

Gunned down by a mysterious sniper in the latest issue as he's entering a Manhattan federal courthouse to be arraigned, Captain America symbolizes the death of the American dream. Can he and it come back? Of course! Captain America will no doubt be resurrected as soon as the country has recovered from its current fiasco. Until then, it seems hard to believe that the dark world portrayed by Marvel won't be sharply at odds with the heroic Army advertisement featured on the back of issue No. 25 of Captain America.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007 11:49:00 PM  

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