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on Captain America and Nazism™ for Fun and ProfitIdeology and Politics

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 3.25.13 AMJust about two years ago, I wrote a blog post about how I didn’t really like the idea of making Sam Wilson, the Falcon, into the new Captain America. I actually stand by that. My reasoning at the time (and now) wasn’t the typical geek reasoning which basically boils down to a fear of change and it certainly wasn’t the racist idea that Captain America can’t be black. It was more that I didn’t like using Sam Wilson’s blackness as a marketing ploy. By Marvel’s own admission, the idea of the change was predicated on diversifying the line and creating a superhero for black kids to look up to. My problem with it was that he wasn’t a new hero. He had been created in 1969. Changing Sam into the Falcon didn’t increase the number of African American heroes in Marvel’s stable; I had been looking up to him since the 70s. Instead it implicitly argued that for the last four decades Falcon wasn’t a hero at all, but instead was something lesser that than the real hero, Captain America. It meant that as a black man, Wilson could only be relevant by following in the footsteps of his white friend, something he was only able to do with the REAL Captain America’s blessing. And I especially hated it because it seemed to be done more as a sales ploy than anything else. That is not to say that the stories of Sam Wilson: Captain America couldn’t be enjoyed. My problem was that making Captain America black was the primary goal. Story came second.

Today, the geek.web is full of people complaining about the first issue of the new comic Steve Rogers: Captain America where it is revealed that Rogers is a member of Hydra and therefore (at least theoretically, since the reveal comes on the last page and we must wait til next issue for clarification) a nazi. And apparently, at least according to press statements, Nick Spencer, the current writer, says he has always been all along.

Believe it or not. I’m actually in pretty ok with this one.

In fact I’m actually even a little excited about it. See, it’s not that I like the idea of Cap being a nazi because I think young Nazi children need someone to look up to. Fuck the Nazi children; they have Prussian Blue for that, or at least they used to (and yes, I did just do an 11 year old callback to my own blog, because that’s how I roll)1. It’s more that I like that the comic is dealing with the question of what is a nazi anyway –or really, what is a fascist and frankly, Spencer is right. Captain America was a fascist all along. And It’s probably good to acknowledge that because its something that we’re still dealing with.

Obviously this was meant to be shocking. Marvel had to know that there would be some pushback on it. They probably weren’t expecting the writer to get death threats. But they probably should have. Clearly they failed to understand the Internet. Or did they? Obviously this was going to be controversial. Obviously it was going to piss people off. Maybe… just maybe…Nick Spencer was counting on getting people so riled up that they threaten his life. Why? Because maybe, Nick Spencer is a patriot. Maybe not. But he’s damn sure a good writer. And he seems to be proud of what he has accomplished.

See the things that a lot of geeks miss, for all their posturing about being taken seriously, is that literature is supposed to be difficult. Art is supposed to be difficult. Uncomfortable. Unpleasant. It is is supposed to both reflect and challenge society and, more importantly, it is supposed to reflect and challenge us. Captain America is an avatar of American Ideology. This comic is supposed to make us wonder “If Cap has been hydra all along, maybe we all are too!” It’s supposed to make you ask some really hard questions about your politics, your culture, your country and yourself.

Spencer isn’t too far off. A lot of Cap’s current “politics” were set by Mark Gruenwald, one of my all time favorite comic writers, and to me still the man who defines Captain America (and yes, that includes CapWolf, goddammit!). By Grue’s own admission, a lot of what went into how he was writing Cap in the 80s and 90s was working through issues he was thinking about in his own life. Judging by other stuff Grue was writing at the time, it’s fair to guess that he saw the American ideology of the time as progressive and liberal and he wrote Cap to reflect that. He gave up the book over twenty years ago (and then died) but the character has more or less moved on the same course ever since.

But that’s not where he started. Captain America used to be a ruthless bastard. He’s a product of 1941. Pretty much his entire brand of patriotism was to go out and beat the crap out of (and often kill) anyone who didn’t agree with his take on the American way. By 2016 standards, he was sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, and racist — in many ways, much like a prototype of the Comedian from Watchmen. It’s not that he was a bad guy… he was just a guy from 1941. You know how you love your 90-year-old grandfather but every once in a while he says some crazy racist shit that reminds you “oh yeah, gramps was born in 1920!” Captain America was that guy.This story seems to be an attempt to reconcile that.

Screen-Shot-2016-05-26-at-11.33.03-AMIt makes sense that his moral compass would be steeped in that time. Much like my comments on Airboy and his transphobia last year, Spencer is attempting to paint a portrait of what Captain America realistically would be, not what we would expect him to be.2 Raised in that time period, there’s a high likelihood that he (and his mother, as the story suggests) would have been seduced by an organization like Hydra, especially if, as the narrative goes, they were trying to find solace against an abusive father/husband. There’s a famous story about Lucille Ball being discovered as communist in the 1950s during the McCarthy era. It turned out that she and her mother had registered in the 1930s as members of the communist party in order to make her grandfather happy. She simply was a communist because being a communist was what the family did. In Lucy’s case, she didn’t even really know what it meant. When you think about it, this makes sense. Sometimes people choose their own political parties, but maybe people — maybe even most people — simply carry on with what their parents believed. How often do you hear someone vaguely (and loudly) expressing political beliefs that they clearly don’t actually understand? I once had a student write a paper where he vehemently declared that he is a proud conservative and NRA member and that we needed looser and not tighter gun control regulations. Then he went on to explain his ideal world which included mandatory gun training, psychological and criminal background checks. It wasn’t clear what part of that he considered looser. What was clear was that his personal ideology didn’t matter when choosing a label for himself. Certainly his views are a product of his environment and upbringing. Certainly they are affected by what he sees and hears in the news and the world around him. Certainly they are ultimately regulated by his own brain and moral compass. But being a “proud conservative and NRA member” is so steeped in his identity that he feels the need to announce it, even when the effect is to make it seem as though he is arguing against himself. This is the power of organizations like this. What the message was didn’t matter. It gave him a sense of belonging. It comforts him. In a way, it became his religion.

Screen-Shot-2016-05-26-at-1.08.32-PMAnd that really is the key to this story. Most of the complaints I’ve seen so far aren’t about the story, per se. They’re about the idea of Cap being a nazi. People simply aren’t into the idea of Cap as a nazi. No one is really taking into account how he got there. What makes the story work for me, however is the parallel narrative. Not only do we see how Cap’s mother (and transitively Steve Rogers himself) became a member of Hydra in 1926, Spencer plays it against the story of a young man named Robbie be seduced to the organization in 2016. Robbie is down on his luck. He’s had legal and substance abuse problems. He has a hard time holding a job. His girlfriend died of an overdose. He feels as though the system has abandoned him. And so he is primed to be taken in by a grassroots organization a fired introduces him to. An organization that talks of “taking our country back. Getting rid of this political-correctness bull–.” He attends the meeting to find a speaker warning of the dangers of “these so-called ‘refugees’ — millions of them — marching across the continent. Bringing their fanatical beliefs and their crime with them. They attack our women, and bomb our cities.” The speaker is the Red Skull, but message, at least in the beginning is a clear analog of the words of Donald Trump throughout this presidential campaign. As his speech goes on, the rhetoric becomes more intense as he warns that “your religion, your beliefs, your sense of community — all tossed aside like trash. And you cannot even speak out against it, lest you be called a bigot!” Robbie finds himself drawn in to the fervor and despite having reservations about some of the platforms becomes a believer because it has given him something he needs in his destitution, a sense of belonging and place.

But again, the strength of the story is in the parallels, Robbie perhaps ends up as a terrorist (and in fact becomes a suicide bomber) but he wasn’t seduced by the idea of an ISIS-like jihad; he’s not looking for 30 virgins in the afterlife. He’s affected by a grassroots campaign. He just wants to belong. He wants to believe in something larger than himself. Something that will address the failings of the country and make his life better. And even before the final page reveal, the story goes far out of its way to show you just how similar Robbie and Cap are. They specifics of the message they believe in might appear to be different, but the pathway to arriving there is the same.

The Red Skull’s message is xenophobic. It is a Donald Trump speech with the volume turned up. And because Robbie so desperately needs something to believe in, he is easily receptive to the group’s mission. But he would have been receptive to any group that accepted him. Anyone who was willing to “watch his back.” But for a different turn he could have ended up in the tent of Bernie Sanders, another grass roots campaign. One that espouses a different message but uses the same tactics to draw its members in. The politics don’t matter; Robbie isn’t political. He just wants to belong.

I’ve been reading comics for a long time. I don’t for a moment believe this is permanent and if you do… well, then you haven’t been paying attention that long. This is like the superior Spiderman or the Superior Ironman. A chance to play with the character and examine the world, in a way that will undoubtedly be reset before his next big film appearance, exactly like what happened with those last two.

In the meantime, this is a chance for Spencer to examine the fabric of the ideology behind Steve Rogers. By removing one aspect long assumed to be tautological to the character, he is playing at deconstructing the essence of Steve Rogers. Will he be able to pull this off? Who knows, there’s been one issue. I liked it. The rest of it could very well go on to suck, but so far I am intrigued and I want to see what happens when he strips down Captain America and the ideology he represents. And when you strip away the politics… when you strip away the ideologies… when you strip away the moralities… when you strip away the message and focus only on the messengers, it becomes somewhat difficult to tell the messengers apart. Spencer is making a statement. Maybe Captain America and the Red Skull never wear all that different after all. And if that’s the case then as readers, we may have to deal with the fact that maybe Donald Trump and the Red Skull aren’t all that different. Or Bernie Sanders and Captain America. And when we strip all of that away and really read into the allegory… maybe Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders aren’t all that different either. And that means, maybe… just maybe… you aren’t all that different than your 90-year-old racist grandfather.

Hail Hydra.


Footnotes
1: I just want to point out that way back when I initially wrote about Prussian Blue I predicted that their lives would totally be changed as soon as Lynx started experimenting with weed. I chose Lynx because I randomly decided that she was “the hot one.” Since no one ever paid attention to Prussian Blue ever again, I just feel like I need to point out that a few years later that is literally EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED. Lynx became a pot smoking hippie and dragged her sister along for the ride. I’m a visionary like that. The article does not say whether or not either of them ever fucked any members of the Wu-Tang clan as I predicted they would…  but I mean, we can just assume, right?

Recommended Reading
 Angry White Men, by Michael Kimmel
 Captain America: Masculinity & Violence, by J. Richard Stevens
 Captain America: Man Without a Country, by Mark Waid
Captain America: Society of Serpents, by Mark Gruenwald
Captain America: Man & Wolf, by Mark Gruenwald
Captain America: Nomad, by Steve Englehart

 

22 comments for “on Captain America and Nazism™ for Fun and ProfitIdeology and Politics

  1. avatar
    May 26, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    So…let’s assume randomly that Steve Rogers was 21 when he was enlisted in the super-soldier program…we’ll give him from mid-’42 to before the deep freeze in early ’45 to operate in WWII…sliding time scale has him we thawed in 2000, so -for better or worse – we can ignore any bit of characterization between 1945 and 2000 as a representation of Cap in the modern era.
    That’s where Spencer’s idea falls apart. Regardless of how he behaved during the 40’s, Cap in the modern era has been consistently portrayed as not “your 90 year old grandfather who occasionally says racist things”. Neither is he so “old” that he’s set in his ways: he’s 36 mentally and biologically (which makes all the “super soldier serum has stopped working so he’s an old man” stories equally pointless. Cryogenics, not chemistry, kept him young…), with a little less than half of his life experiences at the beginings of the 20th and 21st centuries. There are clear political parallels between both periods of time so there’s obvious story potential in exploring ideological factors leading to wherever the hell we end up and where they ended up back. But there’s also clear behavioral evidence from Steve’s life as the son of irish immigrants from 1919 to his need to enlist after Pearl Harbor that suggests that – having battled HYDRA and its various offshoots from 2000 til “today” that if he felt strongly enough in what they believed in, he would’ve joined up with them asap. He did not. Because who he has been since 2000 would not.

    …meanwhile, Nick Fury could easily have been a member of HYDRA (seeing as how SHIELD as a branch of HYDRA dates to the mid-00) without tarnishing his character or history or how anyone would look at him after the inevitable reveal that he’s not actually evil per se.
    The story is probably a good story worth exploring, but its not worth telling NOW.

    • avatar
      May 26, 2016 at 2:48 pm

      So those are two separate issues:

      First his portrayal. I’m not arguing in comics continuity here. Namely because even allowing for the sliding time scale… in fact, especially allowing for the sliding time scale… Cap’s continuity is a mess. His characterization has changed a bunch over the years. Like I said in the article, the superman-esque boy scout mentality is mostly a vestige of his portrayal by Gruenwald. But even then… with Grue being a stickler for continuity and consistency (OUTMODE), there were variances. Cap goes from being a dedicated soldier to losing faith and disavowing the US government like every six months during Grue’s run (an exaggeration, but that’s where the original Nomad storyline comes from as well as The Captain/John Walker storyline).

      Post-Grue, he a staunch fighter for individual liberty opposing the registration act in Civil War (which, even though that was a well crafted story overall, I’d argue that the impetus, the central conflict between Rogers and Stark was based around a fundamental misunderstanding of the continuity by Millar. A strong argument could be made that they should have been on exactly the opposite sides) to, after the fall out of that story being on the ideological opposite side as he is attempting to capture Hope Summers in AvX.

      This is a flaw of episodic storytelling. Switching writers and especially trying to collapse the timeline the way Marvel does, one simply has to make concessions in order to fit all continuity into the canon. Even assuming a generous sixteen years since he thawed like you are, he’s had at least four major relationships in that time (Sharon, Bernie, Diamondback and Sharon again). Sharon appears to be an older woman in current comics, but she was very recently pregnant with his child. He needs to have had time to have been established as being Cap, and stripped/abandoned the identity for some meaningful amount of time at least 4 times (Nomad, John Walker, Bucky, and Falcon takeovers). He needs to have been lost on Heroes Reborn World for at least a year or so. He needs to have had meaningful partnerships with Rick Jones, Falcon, Nomad (Jack Monroe), DMan, Diamondback, Sharon, Free Spirt, and Jack Flag as well as running the Avengers, SHIELD and Secret Avengers at various times. Etc. Even in the issue in question, Spencer lightly pokes fun at this by directly addressing Jack Flag’s early 90s partnership by talking about how he used to use a combat boombox to play Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch (placing him in the early 90s at the latest) and then later noting that he is now providing his combat soundtrack with an iPhone with siri.

      My point is, each author is going to have their own take on the character. They’re going to vary. That’s the fun of a shared universe between authors. Assuming a storyline reason is needed, in the past year of his life (his time) he’s been aged, rebooted into a new universe, rebooted back into a merged and revamped copy of the old universe, and de-aged by a cosmic being. Any number of those things (or some new, not yet mentioned force) could be causing a storyline personality shift and I’m sure they’ll get to it… otherwise why bother.

      But really what I’m talking about is latter point. The reason for the storyline. And I think that it’s absolutely worth telling NOW. As I said (and as the images I linked to show) the storyline is a clear allegory for the current political climate. Skull more or less gives an exact Trump speech at his grassroots meeting. It preys on the xenophobia of the american 21st political climate with direct references to terrorism and xenophobia. In a world where Americans are attempting to create laws that outlaw Sharia law for religious ideological reasons without understanding that, but for the specifics of the diety being referenced, that is exactly what Sharia law is. This story makes perfect sense.

      Yes, I expect there is a storyline reason for the shift in persona. But that is incidental. The real story in exploring how different the avatar of American nationalism is from the theoretical adversaries that it sets itself against? How different are conservativevism and liberalism? Is there a difference between patriotism and terrorism other than point of reference?

    • avatar
      May 26, 2016 at 3:29 pm

      So if you’re interested in a theory as to the reason behind the personality shift and how they can buy the storyline back, Nerdist has a very very potentially spoiler filled short on this subject on their YouTube, and the pages from the comic you included in the blog post seem to fit in well with their third theory.

      That said, regardless of the inevitable “it wasn’t real” nature of comics that will reverse all this, I absolutely agree that this storyline is timely, interesting, and hopefully for many readers eye opening. If even one person walks away from reading this questioning their beliefs and looking at what drives a person to be “evil” in a new light then the storyline was a success in my opinion.

    • avatar
      May 26, 2016 at 3:40 pm

      The last bit is my point of contention: its not a story about the avatar of American nationalism. Its not the star-spangled banner, mom’s apple pie, and baseball; memorial day parades, and picnics and fireworks on the fourth of july. Its contemporary politics, with Steve on the right and Sam on the left. Captain America is bigger than both. Must be bigger than both. I’ve no problem with the story. Every story has value. I’ve a problem with the marketing of the story and the timing of it and how anyone with the slightest bit of common sense knows that the controversy that it will generate is hampered by there actually being two Caps right now, one for the right and one for the left. Like a franchise.

    • avatar
      May 26, 2016 at 3:49 pm

      Ok. But assuming we accept that (and we don’t know since Sam didn’t appear in the book) why is that a problem? Captain America is a fictional character in an episodic narrative. Who says he is bigger than politics. In 2016 the American story that is most culturally interesting to investigate is politics.

    • avatar
      May 26, 2016 at 3:50 pm

      I’d actually say it perfectly echoes the opinions of American citizens right now. There isn’t some singular ideal of mom and apple pie we can all agree on right now. There’s very diametrically opposing views on the very idea of what American nationalism as a concept means and represents and what patriotism looks like. If Captain America were a product of the American psyche then there’d absolutely be two opposed Caps right now. To me the book is just reflecting reality. Yes, it’s contemporary politics, but that’s far from new. Mav can give better examples than I ever could, but Cap has often been contemporary, and in this case the very concept of patriotism he’s always stood for is divided, so it makes sense that the two Caps would be as well.

    • avatar
      May 26, 2016 at 4:01 pm

      Exactly, Steve. Cap is fundamentally an allegorical figure. But if this election cycle has taught us anything it’s that the American ideal is not universal.

      I’d argue that it’s also not unique. No country fundamentally believes it is evil. (Or if they do, then that is rare)

      So now we have a opportunity to not only examine the dichotomy between the left and right but to question whether the ideology is valid or is it merely colonialism wrapped in nationalism.

    • avatar
      May 26, 2016 at 4:24 pm

      Whether national politics is more culturally interesting than the dynamics of national identity is arguable. What is more valuable in terms of storytelling is the synthesis of identity before and after the point of conflict. Cap isn’t the country. Cap is the idea of the country. What the country aspries to be. The internal conflict within Steve, with a shifting value system based on an given conflict or issue is more refective of what the country – not the people of the country- experiences.

      Good and evil are irrelevant in the questions of sovereignty. What is good for the people is good, what is not is evil, and which is which is decided by the appointed leader of the people. Cap -prior to heading up SHIELD – is not that leader…

      …I digress. Reasons for the current divide in contemporary American society are well documented. Means of bridging that divide not so much. Shared symbols are the bridge. Splintering the symbol accomplishes nothing…unless a new symbol is contrusted in its place.

      In your honest opinion, is the Captain America presented in this single issue a bridge or a deconstruction and, if its the latter, what will the reconstucted symbol be?

    • avatar
      May 26, 2016 at 4:39 pm

      My belief is that Captain, like the flag itself is, yes, a shared symbol, but the point is that the meaning of those symbols has already fractured and that the two Caps represent that in a way that the flag can’t, without someone raising a new flag. So yes, in a literal way the symbol is being deconstructed, and the entire point of this arc I imagine will be to see what that means and how the Marvel universe deals with it.

      If I were to guess what the reconstructed symbol would be it would be either Steve Rogers (possibly as Cap, I kinda suspect not as Cap) or someone else as Captain America (maybe Sam Wilson, maybe not) and I suspect it would happen when Steve is bought back and this is all reversed. But that’s pure idle speculation and much less fun than just enjoying the story and seeing where it takes us.

    • avatar
      May 26, 2016 at 4:48 pm

      Ok. See, I think there’s a disconnect there. What you’re saying is true if we assume that Captain America as a character can (should?) only serve to function as a prescription for American ideology. I agree that he CAN serve to do that, and in some storylines has, but I also think that he frequently (and in this particular storyline does) functions as descriptive. This isn’t a parable. Spencer isn’t telling the readers that they should turn to fascism. He’s pointing out that many of them have.

      I’d point to other Captain America storylines. Engelhart didn’t turn him into Nomad to tell people to abandon America. He was showing that in the wake of Watergate (and the Cold War) he felt that America had abandoned its symbolism. To look at the recent Civil War film, the strength of it is that it isn’t really clear who is “right” between Rogers and Stark. They both have valid points. America isn’t simple.

      In this story, it at least “appears” that Steve Rogers is in the wrong. We are led to believe that he kills Jack Flag in cold blood (there is probably more going on). So in that respect I think we are looking at a deconstruction. What happens when the American Dream goes wrong? What are the failings of it.

      What will the reconstructed symbol be? I mean, I have no idea since I’m not writing the book and there really hasn’t been enough of it to judge. We’re on the first chapter.

      I mean, for all I know, it will royally suck. But I like Spencer. Morning Glories is great and with one chapter of this story under his belt I’m interested in seeing where he takes it.

    • avatar
      May 26, 2016 at 4:52 pm

      The symbol doesn’t need to be deconstructed, Steve. The flag- and by extension Captain America – still represent those ideas best summarized as “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”. The political divide is solely focused on who should be allowed to have guaranteed right to those things…the answer of which was presumed to be “all men”.
      And I’ll be watching and reading this storyline to its end as well.

    • avatar
      May 26, 2016 at 5:00 pm

      See, I don’t think that’s the story we’re getting here. I think that sure you could tell the story that “the flag means life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and then you’re basically left with “now how do you go about getting/defending that”

      But I think we’re getting something different here. I think we’re getting “is that really what the flag means after all? And if so, do those things mean the same thing to all people.”

      In real life the answer to both of those questions is “not really” so I’m interested in seeing how Spencer examines it.

    • avatar
      May 26, 2016 at 5:01 pm

      See there I disagree. When I have conversations with people who are on opposite side of the political divide than me it runs much much much deeper than what politician we support. The very ideals of this country are exactly what people are divided on. Are we a melting pot built on the backs of immigrants or do we need to close and secure the borders deporting anyone that is Muslim or doesn’t speak English. Should we intervene militarily in other countries or not? Is this a nation founded on Christianity or not? Is affirmative action a good thing or a bad thing? Should we bring back segregation? Should we repeal civil rights laws, abortion laws, healthcare law, etc? Is the Constitution a living document meant to be continually reinterpreted and altered or not? And that’s barely the tip of the iceberg. This might sum up an election cycle well, but the divide in what nationalism and patriotism and the very concept of the American Way means to people in this country runs much deeper than pure politics.

    • avatar
      May 26, 2016 at 5:14 pm

      Agreed. And I think in practice most people assume that those American traits are absolute they assume the American way is “how I think”. Hence some democrats thinking “all Republicans are evil” which breaks down when you’re a republican and think the opposite way.

      No one is prolife or pro choice out of a desire to be evil. Both think they are defending the American way.

      I firmly believe that even though most of my readers are against him, Donald Trump really does believe he is helping America.

    • avatar
      May 26, 2016 at 5:17 pm

      Chris: I’m fairly certain that’s not the story Spencer’s trying to tell and feel pretty confident the one he does tell will be interesting. I just think its more appropriately a Nick Fury story.
      Steve: in order of the questions (and its not my intent to just be a smart ass): yes; no…if you’re going to close the border, close it for everyone; yes, but only with formal declarations of war because we’re not the world’s police; no…not even remotely; affirmative action should’ve only been temporary, maintenance of it is an unfortunate necessity; uh…no; yes, but only in a manner which upholds its “spirit”.

    • avatar
      May 26, 2016 at 5:19 pm

      You’re fairly certain which isn’t? Mine or yours.

      They can’t really do it as a fury story because 100 year old fury doesn’t exist anymore.

    • avatar
      May 26, 2016 at 5:21 pm

      And I think it works better with cap because fury is an American operative. Cap is America. At least in my story, the million dollar question is “what has America become?”

    • avatar
      May 26, 2016 at 5:21 pm

      Well the idea wasn’t to pose questions looking for an answer, the point is that Americans are deeply, at times even violently, divided on what those answers are, as well as the answers to many other questions that are at the very heart of what the American Way is.

    • avatar
      May 26, 2016 at 5:25 pm

      Mine isn’t the story he’s telling.
      And well, yeah fury’s the new watcher or whatever that was, but comics…

  2. avatar
    May 26, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    Chris, I know fairly little about comics, but when you say Captain America was a product of 1941, it seems to me relevant that he was a product of a specifically Jewish experience of 1941. Jews certainly can be racist or fascistic, but I have to wonder if making him a Nazi is more than a few steps beyond what you’re talking about.

    • avatar
      May 26, 2016 at 4:27 pm

      So, separating the modern vs. classic issue that George is referencing in the other thread. Yes, cap was created in 1941 by two Jews, Simon and Kirby, specifically as an anti-Hitler hero. However, he is decidedly non-Jewish. He’s Irish Catholic, or at least Joe Simon’s idea of what Irish Catholic looked like.

      That said, in those early strips he has clear fascist tendencies. He’s not so much concerned with defending Judaism or even saving the Jews, it’s more about pushing the American ideology. It’s a nationalistic purview. For the most part the stories (usually about 8 pages) follow a simplistic structure: vaguely ethnic villain arrives and does something dastardly… Cap and Bucky arrive and capture henchman, threaten his life and beat him to get to the villain, they catch up to the villain and punch him a lot and probably kill him “on accident” and Cap points out that he got what he deserved. Sometimes the killing isn’t even accidental.

      The way he speaks and acts are usually not really much different from the way the villain does. It’s not so much his tactics that separate him. The only real difference is that Cap wears a flag instead if a swastika. That is what I think Spencer is trying to establish here. Terrorism and patriotism are points of view.

      It also bears mentioning that the book has not established him as a nazi (yet). It establishes him as a member of Hydra. What that means isn’t clear since it only happens on the last couple of pages he spends the majority of the book actively confronting Hydra. Since I’m assuming they aren’t going with the very obvious “it’s all an act and he’s totally been evil for 70 years” there is likely something far more complex going on. Not so much is he a nazi… But I expect something more along the lines of “is he any better than the nazis?”

    • avatar
      May 27, 2016 at 9:31 am

      I think I’d need an analysis within the context of Jewish-coded characters to be convinced. To be Irish Catholic, for instance, doesn’t make a character decidedly non-Jewish. And specifically calling to fight for the sake of Jews may have been a bit too much danger for them. I can’t say.

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