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Captain America has few fans as knowledgable as our Scotty Cook. Here, Scotty breaks down the history behind one of America’s favourite comic characters. As it turns out, we’ve been here with Cap before.
Who will be the next Captain America?
This question was asked in Captain America #333 back in 1987.
Yes, that’s right, I said 1987.
Some reading this might remember that year, while some of the younger readers might be thinking, “How old is the guy writing this and why do I care about such an old issue?” The reason you, the reader, should care about this issue is because it shows why Captain America isn’t just a symbol or puppet for the U.S. government. That story went behind the mask and shield and showed us that Captain America is a man that represents all of us. A man with only one name.
The issues first page is a masterpiece of artwork. Cap’s uniform folded neatly on top of his shield, with a beam of light illuminating the iconic colors. Broadway could not have staged this picture better! From off panel we hear voices of government officials arguing over Steve Rogers and his replacement. In the third dialogue box, writer Mark Gruenwald, cemented why Steve Rogers is the only Captain America that can wear the mantle and also why he has always been my hero:
“Just who does this Steve Rogers think he is, telling us that he can’t work with us because he represents the American Dream! He represents what we say he represents!”
Does anyone else have goosebumps?
Even after all these years, patriotism explodes through my veins as I read that line. I know, I know…stop being so melodramatic but this has Shakespearian plot and a John Wayne movie pouring out of it.
Once more unto the breach dear friends…
The issue goes on to introduce Steve’s replacement, John Walker. A Georgia peach, whose humble farming roots called him into the army after his brother was killed in Vietnam. After signing up for a secret program that gave him super strength, John was on his way to become a professional wrestler when he met his smarmy little manager, Ethan Thurm. Under Thurm’s guidance and seedy financial backers, John becomes the superhero, Super Patriot.
John becomes Steve’s biggest critic but quickly realizes that becoming Captain America is no easy task. The government tells him he has to get rid of his longtime manager, ditch his closest friends, and puts him through rigorous physical tests he has never experienced.
Let’s just say it’s not so easy to run, jump, flip, control a shield and take a punch from the super villain The Blob. Talk about a bad day at the office. It made me think twice before I made a big deal about someone stealing the last donut in the worker lounge.
The issue ends with John wearing Captain America’s uniform and preparing to ditch all those that helped him fulfill his dream. But what happens to Steve Rogers? We all know now that he took up the shield again but the story arc is a must read. It’s also a good history lesson for anybody that loves the Civil War comics or those excited for the movie coming up.
So Scotty, why are you writing a review about a comic written 28 years ago?
I like to read comics from Steve Rogers’ history because they’re just good stories. They are packed with colorful characters, fun dialogue, and they lack all the violence that most modern day comics are drenched in. It’s really cool to be able to look back at these comics and hand them off to my daughter and know that she can go to sleep without fear of nightmares.
I am going to be writing reviews on old Captain America back issues once a month for Comiconverse.
Hopefully it will make long-time fans smile and new comic readers dive into the $1.00 boxes at their local comic shop.
Happy reading guys.
Long Live Cap!!!
Scotty Cook is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @WriterSNY
Steve Rogers gives up the shield for the American people