Captain America is square. He s always been square, and he always will be square. It s built into the DNA of the character.
When Joe Simon and Jack Kirby launched the adventures of the Sentinel Of Liberty back in 1941, he was pure propaganda a star spangled hero punching out the Axis Powers. Maybe that s why, after the war ended, the character simply disappeared. Old soldiers never die, General Douglas MacArthur famously told a joint session of congress, they just fade away.
It s probably for the best that Cap faded away before the onset of the jingoistic, paranoid fifties. (A brief, failed attempt to reintroduce the character in 1953 as Captain America Commie Smasher! gives us a glimpse of what we avoided.) When he made his reappearance in the Silver Age, he became the thawed out super soldier that we all know and love today: still square, sure, but more of a roided up crime fighter than a political cartoon. Even more than most comic book creations, however, Captain America has retained an intrinsic symbolic function. (All but unavoidable when half your name is America .) Over the years, various writers Roger Stern, J.M.
DeMatteis and Mark Gruenwald have tapped his symbolic quality and used the character as a springboard to deal with various social problems (racism, extremism, homophobia), shaping him into one of Marvel s most fascinating creations. Some of the more interesting work on the character was done by Ed Brubaker in 2005 when he penned the now-classic Winter Soldier storyline. It did not come as a surprise to many fans of Captain America that Marvel Studios once it had established the character in 2011 s Captain America: The First Avenger , and deployed him in 2012 s The Avengers would turn to Brubaker s sprawling political mystery as the basis for the next film, Captain America: The Winter Soldier , which hits theaters April 4 th .
Brubaker s The Winter Solider finds Steve Rogers in a bad mood. Foiling a terrorist attack on a train, Rogers is uncommonly brutal snapping arms and grinding out threats through clinched teeth in a manner more reminiscent of Batman than Captain America. Asked about it by a concerned Agent 13, Rogers admits to feeling weighed down, haunted by bad memories: You know what I see when I dream, Sharon?
I see the war. My war. After all this time, I still dream about foxholes in the black forest Still hear the screams of terrified soldiers.
Smell their blood and tears I still dream about Bucky. Him and all the others I couldn t save Bucky is, of course, Bucky Barnes, the childhood friend of Steve Rogers who would become Captain America s sidekick during the war. What Rogers doesn t know at the beginning of the Winter Solider saga is that Bucky long thought dead was captured by the Soviets and transformed into a shadowy super assassin.
Unfolding over thirteen chapters ( Captain America #1-9 and #11-14, with art by Steve Epting, Mike Perkins, Michael Lark, and John Paul Leon) the storyline spans the globe and several decades of the 20 th century to culminate in a epic showdown between the old partners. The best storylines in superhero comics almost always manage the neat trick of delivering expected pleasures with unexpected pleasures. On the expected pleasures front, we want to see our favorite characters being themselves.
You want Spider-Man to be his smart-ass self, you want Batman to be brooding and intense. In this respect, comic book heroes are no different from other long-form narrative protagonists (Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter). You buy a Captain America comic because Steve Rogers is a known entity and you like him.
You know he s a man defined by a largeness of spirit and a basic goodness. Of course, you also know that he has super-strength and can do some precision discus throwing with his vibranium shield. But the real key to a standout storyline concerns those unexpected pleasures.
Anyone can write a story about Captain America thumping heads and bouncing his shield off walls, but a truly gifted writer finds a previously unexplored dimension of the character and seeks to do something new with it. What Brubaker finds in Steve Rogers is his sense of loneliness, the man out of time quality that has long been with the character but has rarely been exploited for emotional darkness. Brubaker takes a man of innate decency and puts him into the middle of a complicated (and, at points, convoluted) political landscape.
The Winter Soldier is as much about crooked backroom political deals and shadow government operations as it is about explosions and fistfights. And this is a world where Steve Rogers doesn t belong. Brubaker doesn t give us a hero who easily overcomes this conundrum, he gives us a hero who struggles to find his footing, who reacts with rage and anguish at finding out that he s being lied to on all fronts.
When Steve finally comes face to face with Bucky, the pathos of the moment is that the Winter Soldier is really the only one who could hope to understand him. We ll have to wait and see what screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, and directors Anthony and Joe Russo do with their adaptation of this story. While no film could encompass the full breadth of Brubaker s twisting tale, the filmmakers have publicly stated that they intend to stay relatively faithful to the books.
Early buzz on the movie has been excellent with Marvel Studios quickly signing the Russo brothers to helm the third Captain America feature. One thing is for sure: The Winter Soldier provides rich opportunities for the good captain. Jake Hinkson is the author of the books Hell On Church Street, The Posthumous Man , and Saint Homicide .
Read more about him at JakeHinkson.com 1 .
He also blogs at The Night Editor 2 .
References ^ JakeHinkson.com (www.tor.com) ^ The Night Editor (thenighteditor.blogspot.com)
Co-blogger Bryan’s post, “Desert versus Identity,” 1 has got me thinking. Bryan writes: War crimes are a stark example. Suppose a soldier from group X plainly murdered ten innocent civilians from group Y.
What do the people of X say? “It was war.” “He just lost his buddy a month earlier.” “If you’ve never been in that situation, you can’t judge.” “He was just following orders.” “His officer should have seen it coming.” On Wednesday of this week, I was flying home from Washington, D.C. to Monterey and was reading Civilian Warriors by Erik Prince. I had seen it on sale at Costco a while back and decided that rather than pre-judge the founder of Blackwater, I should see what he had to say.
The story starts off in a compelling way. I found myself admiring Prince, as I do most people when I see that they risk it all to start a business. My admiration was limited because the business he started was, as the title says, a civilian warrior business.
I judge civilian warriors by the same standards that I judge military warriors: are they fighting a just war and are they fighting justly? Where my admiration fell to zero was when I hit Chapter 8, “Fallujah.” In it, Prince tells how 4 of his employees were massacred in the city of Fallujah, and then tells what happened next. He writes: Operation Phantom Fury soon became one of the bloodiest single engagements of the Iraq War, as two armored Army battalions rolled heavy into the streets of Fallujah, rustling out insurgents for the four Marine battalions that swept in behind.
U.S. forces carried out hundreds of additional air strikes; between the two assaults on Fallujah, they unloaded enough munitions to damage or destroy roughly half the city’s thirty-nine thousand buildings. After two days of intense battle, military officials announced that U.S.
forces controlled 70 percent of the city. The rest was secured just over a week later. More than ninety soldiers died and more than five hundred were wounded.
In their wake, U.S. forces left a bombed-out wasteland of approximately 1,350 dead insurgents–and, if studies are correct, a level of unrelenting toxicity in the flattened city that appears to have led to a staggering rise in birth defects there today. On Sunday, November 14, 2004, Marines with 3rd Battalion, 5h Marine Regiment rolled away the bundles of concertina wire that had been spread along on the shore of the Euphrates.
They became the first Americans to walk across Fallujah’s infamous bridge since two of my men had been strung up on it nearly eight months before. Back in the States, it was an emotional time for our staff. We printed eight hundred Blackwater shirts with “3/5″ embroidered on the sleeve as a thank-you to the Marines. “It’s symbolic because the insurgents closed the bridge, and we reopened it,” Major Todd Desgrosseilliers, the battalion’s executive officer, told reporters.In black marker, one of the Marines left a message on one of the bridge’s green trestles: “This is for the Americans of Blackwater that were murdered here in 2004.
Semper Fidelis 3/5s.”"PS,” it concluded. “F**k you.” References ^ “Desert versus Identity,” (econlog.econlib.org)
See more here:
Erik Prince on Collective Punishment, David Henderson
BFRS Career Event – Catterick
Date: Thursday 27 March 2014 from 9:30 AM to 2:00 PM
Location: Catterick Leisure Centre, Gough Road, Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire DL9 3EL
This event has been structured to suit the Armed Forces community and their families. You might have left the forces years ago, or just be thinking about it now, or maybe you are already in the resettlement process. Whatever your situation, we’re hoping you’ll find this event useful and productive for your future career. Meet employers, find jobs, access self-employment opportunities, enrol in training schemes and get in touch with a whole raft of support services specialising in the transition from Military to Civilian life.
Register Now to Attend Click: BFRS Career Event – Catterick
Who benefits from a BFRS Career Event?
– Service Leavers
– Reserve Forces
– Partners & Families
– Civilians working for the MOD
Is it for me?
– Are you in your final 2 years of service and looking for your next career?
– Are you looking for a work placement as part of your resettlement?
– Are you looking to change jobs?
– Do you need CV advice?
– Looking to re-train or gain qualifications?
If you answered yes to any of these then make sure you visit the BFRS Career Event and find out what the employers attending have to offer you.
It’s an event not to be missed!