Captain America: A Man of His Time

Comics are often a reflection of the times and place that they were created. As they age, they change and evolve to suit the audience, going through various stages. While some comics are set in a time period that is not our own, they may still reflect the thoughts and feelings of a modern audience. But in the case of long running comics, such as Captain America, the plot changes in order to keep up with a younger audience with different life events. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZknp9aFM3c[/youtube] Captain America, or Steve Rogers (who acts as Captain America for the majority of Captain America’s history) is a character who does not need changing. He fights for those who suffer from injustice and against those who would see harm come to others. This is an ideal that many wish to achieve, and doesn’t rely on current events to be relatable since everyone wants to fight for the underdog. Yet his actions, situations and “side of the battle” are almost fluid throughout his history, showing the state of patriotism and sometimes disillusionment with American affairs. The first Captain America, written by Joe Simon and drawn by the artist Jack Kirby, was made 9 months before America joined WWII, as Rogers is shown punching Hitler. The first comics were incredibly popular during this time, serving as propaganda for the war and boosting morale. In this original carnation of him he fights against the Axis powers, reflecting the general American mentality of the word “enemy”.

Captain America punching Hitler

After WWII, the idea behind Captain America became null and void since his primary goal was to take down those evil Nazi’s, so along with popularity of comics overall decreasing, the comic went through many different titles, such as “Captain America, Commie Smasher!” (which only lasted three issues). “Captain America and the Falcon”, released in 1971, marks a tense point in American history. Following the acts of desegregation and equal voting of the 60’s, these comics revolved around Steve Rogers with his friend Sam Wilson, otherwise known as the Falcon, upholding peace on the streets of Harlem. Once again the public see’s Captain America fighting for the minority, or underdog, as this portion of the comics reviews the treatment of the black population. This segment is also underlined by the Watergate scandal which left Americans disillusioned with the government, as Steve Rogers gives up his title of Captain America to become the Nomad, the man without a country.

Steve Rogers renounces the identity of Captain America

 

Steve Rogers as the Nomad

While the actions in the comics at this point may not directly correlate with real-life, similarities popped up all over the place. Before the Dawn! showed the climax against the Secret Empire whose leader was said to be a high ranking government official (although the majority agrees that this official was the president due to a government cover-up in the comics). This explanation of the president being a traitor was a comment of the writer, Steve Englehart  and of society, wishing to tear away from betrayal of their leader. Half of a story is whether or not we find it relatable on a personal level. Due to how comics are released, they have an advantage in reaching out to today’s society by connecting our worlds. Part of what makes a long running comic so popular is how it interacts current events.

 

Captain America is owned by Marvel

Dittmer, Jason. “Captain America’s Empire: Reflections on Identity, Popular Culture, and Post-9/11 Geopolitics.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 95.3 (2005): 626-43. Ebsco. Web. 8 Nov. 2015. <http://eds.b.ebscohost.com/eds/detail/detail?sid=bc415268-468d-422d-ad9d-a5f832ac107f@sessionmgr112&vid=0&hid=112&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU=#AN=edsjsr.3693960&db=edsjsr>. Gray, John. “An Aristotle Who Punches Bad Guys: The Moral World of Captain America.” New Statesman 143.5203 (2014): 30-34. Ebsco. Web. 7 Nov. 2015. <http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.umw.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=bb29b830-4df8-4842-8b7b-590a1d5a7c06@sessionmgr114&vid=2&hid=112>.