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.
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.
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.
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.
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.