Captain America Simon Kirby

Your friendly neighborhood blogger recently picked up Marvel’s “Captain America Anniversary Magazine” in his local comic book shop. The (free) special edition is indeed quite special. Unfortunately, one of the ways it is special is its ability to show how spotty the writing has been over the course of 75 years.

A kind of moral clarity existed at Marvel years ago that allowed for Steve Rogers to literally punch out Adolf Hilter on the cover whereas, these days, the Islamic terrorist groups are ignored in favor of attacks on the tea party.

ISIS terrorists
An ISIS terrorist executes an innocent man in Iraq. Meanwhile, over in America, Marvel editors wonder if it’s appropriate to do another story where Captain America takes on the tea party. Sad.

Writer Mark Waid inadvertently demonstrated why, 75 years from now, people will look back at this era and shake their heads in shame that Marvel was deathly silent on the issue of Islamic terrorism.

Marvel: A popular — and effective — approach writers take to the character is to look at what it means to be Captain America, the living symbol of a nation. You’ve certainly used this approach, and used it well. What makes him such a good character for that kind of examination?

Waid: First and foremost, it’s the thing that makes him unique among superheroes. You’re always going to be making a mistake if you just tell a generic superhero story with Cap because then it comes across as, “Well, this could have been a Spider-Man story or a Hulk story.” You look for the point of view that makes Cap unique and the reason for what he does. In his case, he’s out there being literally a symbol not only for a country, but also for an ideology. And what makes him a complex and interesting character for me is that it has become a much more difficult ideology to define than it would have have been when he first undertook his mission.

Wrong. The principles espoused in the Declaration of Independence are universal. Those principles are codified into law by the U.S. Constitution and transcend petty politics, which is why anyone who writes Captain America should not have a hard time doing so — unless said writer is a partisan guy who finds it “difficult” to rise above his personal biases.

ISIS

Question: Why on did Joe Simon and Jack Kirby have a moral compass that allowed them to call out the Nazi regime in print, but Mark Waid and modern Marvel writers cannot find it within themselves to do an issue on ISIS sex-slaves?

Answer:  Because they are so politically correct that they would rather attack opponents of illegal immigration than the Islamic terrorists who rape young women over and over and over.

ISIS sex slave survivor

The modern Marvel reader can find Captain America taking on tea party members, but they cannot find an issue where their hero stops Syrian members of ISIS from lighting caged innocents and Christians on fire.

Islamic State Jordanian pilot

The idea that it is harder to write Captain America as a symbol for the country in 2016 than it was in March 1941 is a myth. There are plenty of stories to tell that would capture the nation’s highest ideals as enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Federalist Papers. If a writer is incapable of doing that then it isn’t because the world is more complex — it is because he willingly chooses not to expose pure, unadulterated evil.

Editor’s Note: For a glimpse into the mind of Mark Waid — and why he might have a difficult time writing Captain America — one needs to simply glance at his Twitter feed. 

Mark Waid

Mark Waid Twitter

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

20 comments

  1. It’s that level of disconnect that really worries me. I mean…the last couple of years have seen so many weird phases since the heyday of Brubaker, I worry for the state of the Cap movies when they finally run out of material from his era to mine…I mean, since then Steve went to another dimension, to combating old age…all these more fantastical, one might say farcical elements that are so far detached from the strong politically charged moral centre that his concept requires him to be involved in so that he can grow.

    1. “Steve went to another dimension, to combating old age…all these more fantastical, one might say farcical elements that are so far detached from the strong politically charged moral centre that his concept requires him to be involved in so that he can grow.”

      That’s what is so sad about reading the Captain America Anniversary Magazine. They spell out the whole history of the character and it’s obvious that you are right — the title is usually just a farce. They have no clue how to handle the character because they can’t rise above their own petty political bents.

      Can you imagine the Captain America tales readers would have gotten if these guys were in charge during World War II? In a best case scenario they would have ignored the whole thing.

  2. …Or if they had to depict something like Hiroshama, they’d have Baron Zemo crying in a corner.

    All that mess going on in Iraq the first time in the 90s…what did we get? Steve as a Werewolf.

    1. “All that mess going on in Iraq the first time in the 90s…what did we get? Steve as a Werewolf.”

      It’s funny you should mention the werewolf issues. That’s exactly when I checked out of Captain America and didn’t return until Ed Brubaker’s run.

    2. “All that mess going on in Iraq the first time in the 90s…what did we get? Steve as a Werewolf.”

      Definitely not one of Cap’s finer moments, to be sure! Waid is an idiot if he thinks it’s more difficult to write Captain America now. He and the other liberals at Marvel, including Nick Spencer, are just too chickens*** to have him go after ISIS or a fictional counterpart of ISIS. It’s easier for them to bash Christians and the Tea Party than it is to actually tackle true evil like ISIS.

  3. Thanks for the linkage, Doug. This post is still further evidence that Waid really is … well, you know. I’ve said it enough times already about him (and many of his “progressive” colleagues).

    1. I still can’t get over Waid telling people to “f**k off” after he was the one engaging in weird political diatribes on Twitter. Shocker: When someone with a large number of Twitter followers makes inflammatory political statements, then he/she will often get pushback.

  4. Hey, if Steve Englehart can make Richard Nixon the Secret Empire’s Number One for merely having knowledge of a break-in which, on the whole, meant absolutely nothing (since Dick’s re-election in ’72 was a complete thrashing of McGovern), why can’t someone like Waid do the same with Obama, whose crimes are arguably much worse? (Heck, the second article of impeachment against Nixon, never used of course, was about using the IRS to target his political enemies.)

  5. I used to be a Mark Waid fan until I had a discussion with him online in which he declared it was “great” that store owners kept Orson Scott Card books off their shelves due to his anti-gay marriage stance. He was also supportive of those who wanted to blacklist Card from any future work in the comics industry. I find it very hard to enjoy a writer knowing that they support other writers being blacklisted due to their political beliefs.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Andrew. I appreciate it. Oddly enough, it was only a few short years ago that President Obama — who Waid seems to like — publicly opposed same-sex marriage. I don’t recall Waid ever saying that Obama was a bad guy, even though at the end of the day he and Card, for all intents and purposes, held the same view.

      “He was also supportive of those who wanted to blacklist Card from any future work in the comics industry.”

      It’s interesting how blacklists seem to be okay for some groups but not for others, isn’t it?

      Chuck Dixon and Paul Rivoche wrote for the Wall Street Journal in June 2014.

      “A new code, less explicit but far stronger, replaced the old: a code of political correctness and moral ambiguity. If you disagreed with mostly left-leaning editors, you stayed silent.”

      There are many younger readers who do not realize what is going on. I’m glad that Dixon and Rivoche spoke up.

    2. As soon as Dixon and Rivoche spoke…in one venue no less, the knives were out and the response was on. That is still one of the most eye opening events in comics for me. You basically have 1 article in the WSJ and every comic book/culture warrior was out to call it all crap. Thats how pathetic these guys are. Even when they are winning, they still run to the middle and call out their critics has off the farm…as if they have something to hide. The article itself is hard to find…while it’s numerous defensive responses are all over the place

    1. Thanks, Cirsova! I really appreciate it. I literally just saw the news when I logged into Twitter a few moments ago. I’ve been working on my book all day today since I finally have some time to myself. We’ll see how it goes from here. I’m new to the process, but very grateful to have reached the list of finalists.

    2. Working on books… I need to do that. But the Hugo crazy has been too distracting today. You’re probably gonna be in for a wild ride, but you definitely deserve the nod.

  6. “And what makes him a complex and interesting character for me is that it has become a much more difficult ideology to define than it would have have been when he first undertook his mission.”

    For me this statement is hilarious. While the comics have issues with Captain America the movies do seem to get what makes the Captain work.
    As a civil engineer i have this image of an architect yelling ” I can’t build on this shitty piece of land”, when right next to the man another company is building the final floor of a 200-level building”

    Loki calls him “The man out of time,” Ultron sneers at him “God’s righteous man,” but when Rodgers sees Project Insight in the Winter Soldier he calls it morally wrong.
    Tomorrow I, as a filthy European, will be seeing the Civil War movie, and from what I have been hearing it again seems to be a smash hit, because it seems to get what the Marvel characters are all about.

    Maybe, the fact that Mr Waid has issues with Captain America isn’t a problem with Rodgers and his old antiquated ideas, but more to do with Mr Waid having issues addressing those sides of Captain America.

    The fact that Waid calls Captain America many things (a hero, a character, a symbol), but doesn’t call him a soldier says about as much as the hilarious run of Waid doing Daredevil where Murdock was everything except a Catholic.

    1. “The fact that Waid calls Captain America many things (a hero, a character, a symbol), but doesn’t call him a soldier says about as much as the hilarious run of Waid doing Daredevil where Murdock was everything except a Catholic.”

      Boooooom! Great comment all around, bvdemier. I totally agree.

  7. Ambiguity has overtaken the masses. I mean back then, you knew who was a Republican and who was a Democrat, but now you can’t tell if someone is a genuine Democrat or is just paying lipservice to its ideals and cause, for example

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