Thoughts and observations on Green Arrow, classical liberalism, freedom, comic books and matters of social justice.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Captain America is not a soldier


Steve Rogers spent a couple of years in the Army, and he was barely in the Army. Rogers was more a member of a small group of specialists. His rank of captain was more honorary. He spent more time on ice than in the military.

After he was revived in the sixties, he learned the world had moved on and he spent his time trying to find his place in a new America. He kept the suit and the identity, I assume because it was the only thing left from his time he could hide in. In the seventies, Rogers acted as a barometer to the American mood and fought madmen, and terrorists in our own land.

This is how I like to imagine Captain America. Most writers depict Cap as military minded, preferring the moniker soldier than superhero. But again, he spent just a few short years in the military. It was a war and a time when a propaganda tool like "Captain America" would work in this country.

Now, Steve Rogers is a civilian. Just another citizen, which is exactly what his role should be, a citizen patriot. I'm uncomfortable with Captain America as defacto voice for the U.S. military. He was never meant to stand as the image of the military. He is the representation of this country's people. He was sent as that image into a theater of war.

I think most comic book writer's are leftist. And these writers cannot fathom a patriot hero working out of the WWII context, a war they feel comfortable supporting. So they keep Cap militarized, as though he were a career man.

Why was Cap never allowed to mature to the level Green Arrow reached? While decidedly left, as were his writers, Green Arrow confronted true American problems; poverty, corruption, bigotry, liberty, and responsibility. Steve Rogers is pigeonholed as flag waver. His shield is held at the borders of America, when it should in the streets.

But Cap can't take an individual stand. He works in broad strokes, and that's at its best. At worst he fights aliens, monsters, and other heroes so they can continue to break the law acting as vigilantes. Which is a real problem with Steve Rogers, now that he no longer works under the government, he's essentially a law breaker, as are all costumed heroes in those silly books.

If Captain America goes underground to fight the establishment it shouldn't be over Spider-man's right to wear a mask and hunt bad guys, a right he doesn't have. It would be more difficult to write Steve Rogers as the voice of the American downtrodden. That's why comic book writers don't do it, far easier to write him as general to a costumed army in a year long, multiple issue spanning, "event" story.

And that's boring, to me anyway.

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