Thursday, April 13, 2006

Profile: Captain America

Steve Rogers, Captain America
First appearance: 1940 in his own title

Current status: continuing his career as the Star-Spangled Avenger and swinging his mighty shield.

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: in “The Superia Strategem” story arc from 1991, he was turned into a woman, no joke. Then, in 2002, when published in a Marvel Knights-labeled series, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s classic creation became the victim of political bias, depicted as believing that his country was to blame for the attacks upon it during 9-11. The Marvel Knights version only got worse from there, as he went through additional stories that insulted Steve as a patriot or even as a ladies man. It was thankfully cancelled a year and a half later, and since then, Steve Rogers has returned to better form in another volume rightfully set again in the regular Marvel Universe and line, written by Ed Brubaker.

What’s wrong with how this was done? Taking a beloved character and exploiting him for a practically obsessive political bias that succeeds only in alienating the audience, both liberal and conservative, is simply non de-riguerre. And in a time when America is at war with the enemy, it’s also offensive. Not to mention that the way the character was degraded in a storyline written by Chuck Austen, a now ousted hack writer, depicting him as anti-love/sex, was also unbearable.

Thankfully, with the negative reception growing and the book’s sales plummeting, the editors at Marvel had to retract the position they were taking, and returned Steve to a respectable characterization again as well as the regular Marvel universe and line, writing off the Marvel Knights rendition as “alternate universe” (something that seems to have overrun their whole publication line as of recent), and Ed Brubaker’s own writing, I’ll admit, is certainly a lot better than the mess Captain America was put through for at least two years.

“The Superia Stratagem” storyline, conceived by Mark Gruenwald, was a big misfire in an otherwise respectable run that he had on Capt. America’s solo books in his time as writer/editor as well, and was embarrassingly bad. Thank goodness that too was done away with.

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