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Story Archives: Captain Un-American?
I grew up reading comic books, so a controversy involving Captain America has been particularly interesting to me.
It seems creators the comic book character find themselves in a little bit of hot water for letting the super hero delve into politics in a recent issue. It isn't too surprising, I guess, to find politics in the pages of Captain America, a character that has been around since the World War II era.
After all, Captain America debuted in 1940 in a comic book with a cover that showed the Sentinel of Liberty felling Adolph Hitler with a right cross. In the 1950s, he graduated from knocking out Nazis to become a Cold War crusader and was billed as "Captain America, the Commie Smasher."
What's changed, it seems, is that Captain America's creators are no longer content with just taking on America's enemies and have set their sights on ordinary Americans - or at least those involved in Tea Party protests.
To be fair, I haven't read the comic book and have only read about it and just seen panels from it posted on the Internet. Some Tea Party people who have seen it, however, aren't happy with Marvel Comics, the longtime publisher of Captain America.
The dig against Tea Party protesters happened in issue No. 602, as Captain America and his trusty sidekick, The Falcon, are hunting a group of white supremacy-militia bad guys called the Watchdogs.
As they look for the bad guys, they stumble upon a Tea Party rally filled with protesters holding signs with slogans such as "Tea Bag the Libs Before They Tea Bag You!" and "Stop the Socialists!" As the two super buddies critique the rally with plans to infiltrate it, The Falcon, who is black, comments that he might be a little conspicuous among "a bunch of angry white folks."
It didn't take long for Tea Party organizers to catch wind of their cartoon counterparts and fire back at Marvel. In a Fox News interview, Michael Johns, a board member of the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition, called the portrayal "juvenile," adding that "The Tea Party movement has been very reflective of broad concerns of all Americans. Membership is across ethnic, religious and even political lines."
As quickly as Captain America used to fling his star-spangled shield at commie heads, Marvel, owned by the Walt Disney Company, went into damage control. The comic book's editor has taken blame for what he has described as a mistake made as the issue was rushed to press against a deadline.
He said the scene in the comic book was supposed to depict a generic protest and slogans for the signs were quickly borrowed from photos of recent protesters to add realism.
Working in newspapers, it is easy for me to understand the concept of meeting deadlines and how mistakes can happen, but the explanation has my spider sense buzzing.
Just a quick aside for those who don't understand all the comic book references in this column. You can blame Glen McGlothin, the current mayor of Ferriday for my familiarity with comic books.
Glen used to be a barber and kept a big stacks of dog-eared comic books in his barber shop when I was a kid that I read excessively as I waited for my turn in the chair. Now back to the action packed, pulse pounding point of this column.
It should be remembered that the people who originally created Captain America in the 1940s, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, aren't the people who are penning the adventures of the red, white and blue garbed hero these days.
If Simon and Kirby were still at the helm, Captain America might be kicking Taliban butt in Afghanistan instead of taking cheap shots at Americans doing something so "un-American" as protesting high taxes and an overbearing federal government.
These days, a man named Ed Brubaker writes Captain America. Brubaker hasn't been shy about his political beliefs and his contempt for the Tea Party Movement, according to Fox News.
The network reported that about the same time as Brubaker was writing the issue in question, he was posting missives on his Twitter account like "Memo to (Minnesota Rep. Michele) Bachman and the rest of the tea crowd — We had a revolution already, it's called an election" and "What did we learn this week? That Sarah Palin is a lying idiot. Hey, welcome to 2008 again."
You don't really need x-ray vision to see that there is more to this than an innocent mistake that simply slipped past Brubaker's editors. To me, it seems to be another sad disconnect in yet another media — comic books, for crying out loud — that has lost touch with the common folks.
I remember a little controversy involving Superman not too long ago when the super hero was brought back to the big screen in "Superman Returns."
In one scene, Daily Planet editor Perry White, asked reporters to go out and see if Superman still believes in "truth, justice and ... all that stuff" instead of "truth, justice and the American Way."
While the world has changes a lot since George Reeves donned blue tights in the 1950s, there might have been more than a few of us who would have appreciated hearing the line the way it was said in the preamble to the old television show in the 2006 movie.
It really isn't that offensive to me to see Hollywood or any other entertainment outlet take the same old politically correct road it has taken over the last 30 years or so. I'm used to it by now and it all seems more boring than offending.
As I was doing research for this column, I learned that a Captain America movie is in production and slated for release next year. I'm not expecting too much, but I hope Hollywood gets it right.
If the super villain in the movie bears an eerie resemblance to Sarah Palin, however, I think I'll just stay home and call the mayor of Ferriday to see if he still has any of those old comic books.