So what are you a captain of?

We all have our guilty pleasures.

Not a big deal, there might even be some health benefits to it in relation to stress and more.  I’d like to think a lot of this blog is devoted to savoring and enjoying guilty pleasures.

And one of my biggest guilty pleasures, is comics.

After a hard day at work, there’s nothing like stretching out and watching people with magical alien wish granting rings of different hues fighting zombies.  No politics, no religion, just plain fun.

Which isn’t to say that comics can’t discuss politics or religion, but at least usually with those, you know what to expect.  I know it might be good, but I don’t read Preacher because I’m not in the mood for religion.  Barack the Barbarian might be 8 kinds of awesome, but I get enough politics from the 24 hr news channels and the internets, I don’t need any more from my comics, thank-you-very-much.  Again, let me be clear that I have no problem with these comics existing, people are free to slake whatever thirst they have, but they are under no disguise or trickery to get me to read them.

Enter Captain America.

You know, the WW2 hero who died recently and just came back to life to fight a 20 ft tall Red Skull in front of the Lincoln memorial.  I had heard a lot of good things from Ed Brubaker.  I picked up some trades shortly before Cap’s death, read them, and then finished out Bru’s run because they were great.  Right up there with Geoff John’s Green Lantern series as what I want from a comic.

Then Brubaker had to go and not only insult me, but violate the core of what Captain America is all about in issue 602 “Two Americas part 1”.

Here are 3 consecutive pages from the comic to help you get a full context:
First Page
Second Page
Third Page

Savor the lines a moment:
“A grassroots anti-government army”
“…looks like some kind of anti-tax thing”
“I don’t exactly see a black man from harlem fitting in with a bunch of angry white folks…”

Of course they’re all being led by an insane man according to the comic, and Captain America is there to stop them.

First of all, the very idea that the tea-party movement is “whites only” is not true (but then, how many black people are in Boise Idaho in the first place?).  Second of all, let the full idea sink in: Captain America is going to fight an “anti-tax, anti-government” movement.

What’s next?  Captain French is going to fight wine makers?  Is Captain Britain going to beat up some… British stereotype?  Hey, I remember an anti-tax, anti-government from around the late 1700s.  They had some real rebels in there with names like Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Hancock, etc etc.  How about after this Cap beats up on today’s tea-party movement, he go back in time and beat up those protesters?

What’s even worse is seeing the reaction around the internet.  Some people are cheering at the thought of Cap beating up “tea-baggers”.  To demonstrate the problem with that, let’s suppose two comic fans are talking: Rick & Dan.

Dan: No way!  You’re a Green Lantern fan too?
Rick: Heck yeah!  Did you check out the latest Blackest Night?
Dan: Of course!  How kick ass was Mogo?
Rick: Beyond the ability of words to describe!

Now, let’s examine the scene again:

Dan: No way!  You’re a fan of Captain America?
Rick: Through thick and thin!
Dan: This latest issue is so great!  He totally beats up on some stupid tea-baggers.
Rick: What?
Dan: It’s so awesome.
Rick: I attended the last, local tea party.  Are you saying you’d like to see Captain America beat me up?

Way to divide people and ruin friendships Brubaker.

I’m not blaming Marvel editing.  I’m not even going to protest Marvel or advocate a boycott.  They are free to print whatever they want just as I am free to read or not read whatever they print.  However, some estimates put the attendance at the various tea parties at close to 300,000 people.  Are these people that would buy or read comics?  Who knows, but is it a wise business practice to alienate that many people (plus any sympathizers) and ENSURE that they won’t purchase your comic?

I thought I would almost never see a comic as stupid, verisimilitude violating or insulting as JLA #83,  but I was wrong.  Whatever you may be a Captain of, it is no longer America, sir.  You and Marvel will just have to do without one more fan.


Update: James Hudnall has probably the 2nd best critiques of this I’ve seen (after mine of course ;)).  Also, Marvel will apparently change a few things when this issue goes to trade paperback.  I’ll voice my opinion on that when 603 releases.


23 thoughts on “So what are you a captain of?

  1. Maybe they should change the name to Captain Communist. Laudable Liberal? The Peerless Progressive? Daunting Douchebag? Any of these would fit, and they wouldn’t have to smear Americans anymore with their Craptacular Comic.

  2. Capt. American is one of three comic titles I have consistently purchased since 1972.

    No more.

    This is disgusting.

    I will seek out another pro-American comic, instead. Unfortunately, Marvel is more and more publishing anti-American, pro-Liberal crap.

  3. Wow… Cap was always a whiny shoe-gazer, but I read him anyway because it was a great action-adventure book. I swore off Marvel for good when Spidey teamed up with Obama. This confirms that I was right to do so.

  4. Remember this is not the real Captain America. This is the Winter Soldier(aka Bucky) who was reprogrammed by the communists. The real Cap is Steve Rogers who would be on the front lines defendind the Constitution, not some absurd socio-comm-liberal liberty stealing pastiche of lies perversion

    • I will admit that I thought Cap has great potential as a legacy hero (like Flash and Green Lantern used to be), and there for awhile I even thought Bucky was doing a pretty good job.

      Maybe the comic will turn around and Bucky will free some good people from deception by an insane man but I’m not hopeful from this set up. (With all the regret Bucky’s expressed lately, he couldn’t hesitate for one moment in 602?)

  5. I really hate what Marvel Comics has become over the past five or so years. It’s just a mess with characters that are ill-defined or so messed up you can’t tell who they are anymore. Reed Richards was a mad scientist who helped Tony Stark lock up a lot of people just because they wouldn’t sign a paper saying who they were because they were super powered, it was a terrible story but that’s beside that point that they just portrayed Reed Richards as the same old guy he was before after that was done and no consequences needed. Not to mention it’s just endless promises of stories that don’t pay off because they just changing things around and adding another New Avenger title on occasion. Joe Quesada made Marvel unreadable to me and this is just another thing that doesn’t make me want to read them anymore and that’s from a long time Marvel fan.

  6. Cap was always for America first, and the established government second. He was supposed to be the defender of the Constitution and what it stood for. Regardless of how lefty Stan Lee is, the title was pretty good at staying true to that ethos. This of course is just horrible.

    The only Marvel that is doing well is the movies, primarily because Marvel is not as involved.

    Oh as for empty promises, Ultimate Hulk vs Wolverine is the Duke Nukem Forever of Marvel Comics.

  7. Hey, this is certainly nothing new – Marvel has often “gone rogue Repub” at a moment’s notice. Even as far back as those Spider-Man issues of the late ’60s and early ’70s, showing Spidey fighting his way past all those “crazy protesters” on college campuses who were picketing a certain war in Vietnam.

  8. Good night! As a Tea Party attendee (the original rally was called an ‘anti-tax rally’) and a long-time Marvel geek, I am shocked. Shocked. But the comics have been phasing out American exceptionalism for some time. Superman no longer fights for “Truth, Justice and the American Way” and its now called the “Justice League”. Also check out the recent GI Joe film. Were they “Real American Heroes” or just some quasi-international force? It is sickening. Superhero comics are as American as Apple Pie.

  9. Should a specific, contemporary group been called out? Probably not.

    But look at the some of the responses here: “Captain Communist” “a traitor” and “anti-American.”

    (Some of you need to check your history: the founding fathers didn’t rebel because of taxes–it was because they were taxed but had no representation, a small but hugely significant fact. They would have accepted the tax had they had representation in the English parliament.)

    When you identify your particular brand of politics as American and anything else as anti-American, then you’re at least as bad as what you’re criticizing Brubaker for. That’s what some of you here have done and what many in the Tea Party movement do.

    @Stack: The Justice League has been around for 50 years. It’s not something new. As for Superman and the “American way,” that was never really in the comics books. But more importantly, you somehow thing if that phrase isn’t in the comic or movie, then Superman isn’t American. The fact that he fights for justice and saves people, that he still represents American ideals that people matter, that individuals can do great good–well, that’s irrelevant. All that matters is some superficial phrase or flag pin because those define who’s really patriotic.

    • (Some of you need to check your history: the founding fathers didn’t rebel because of taxes–it was because they were taxed but had no representation, a small but hugely significant fact. They would have accepted the tax had they had representation in the English parliament.)

      And today’s tea party isn’t exactly all “anti-tax” either. I would think that if we’re going to use small, significant facts for one side of the comparison, we should use them for both.

      Let me reiterate to everyone here: As I’ve tried to make clear (by scanning the pages as well to let readers get context – though I won’t scan the whole book because that’s like stealing from Marvel), I don’t have a problem with Ed’s views. I have a problem with them being in Captain America because it violates the verisimilitude of the character. Now if both sides want me to, I can go through #602 with the Linkaratreatment (like I did with JLA #83) and unpack how bad the thing is frame by frame. I had hoped that just the worst lines pointed out would spell out how stupid this thing is.

      • I was responding to what was written: ” Hey, I remember an anti-tax, anti-government from around the late 1700s. ” (FWIW, the people then weren’t anti-government either.) Keep in mind that the “tea party” name and its historical reference makes that claim of being anti-tax. Yet, by making the point that the tea party is more than just anti-taxes, you’re making that comparison to the founding fathers all the more specious.

        I understand your criticism of this Captain America story. But I have much more of a problem with what real people say than what a fictional character says. And some of the comments here are at least as bad as what you see in that story.

      • Any issue with commentators here, take it up with them. I allow anything that’s not spam or completely vapid. (unless either are really, really funny)

        (FWIW, the people then weren’t anti-government either.) Keep in mind that the “tea party” name and its historical reference makes that claim of being anti-tax. Yet, by making the point that the tea party is more than just anti-taxes, you’re making that comparison to the founding fathers all the more specious.

        Again, you’re applying double standards. Let’s go over this again:

        Source – used simplistic describing about the current tea party
        Me – logically, you can use that same simplicity to describe the founders
        You – Well the founders were more complicated than that
        Me – Yeah, and the tea parties are more complicated that that.

        If you want to bring nuance into it, start with the source. Otherwise, don’t be complaining when I argue against the writer using the terms they themselves set.

  10. Note to the historically challenged: non-Americans have always giggled at the term “truth, justice AND the American way” for the huge US insult that it is.

    That ham-handed writing, with a specific country so awkwardly tacked on at the end, done for the ’50s TV show (the same decade Ike rammed “In God We Trust” down our throats) clearly implies that the “American way” is a much different animal than plain old truth and justice.

    BTW, many other countries before and after America was founded have fought for truth and justice. And to add a final irony, Superman was first drawn by a Canadian who likewise framed Superman’s adventures in Canada, not the US. Before they changed a certain newspaper’s name to the Daily Planet in New York, it was based on the Toronto Star in Canada.

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