This Week in WWAC History: Captain America

stock: Calling All Kids 018, digital comics museum, Quality Comics, 1948

Love it or hate it Civil War is on the horizon. And what better way to prepare for Captain America on the big screen than to comb through the WWAC archives? We have comic reviews and opinions galore. Enjoy!

One Small Step: Captain America and the Discourse of Fear and Security, April 2, 2014,

A few months back, the first full trailer of Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier was released and I was extremely excited.

Just to offer some context, I’m a fourth year criminology major at York University. Criminology is essentially the study of crime and criminality: I’ve spent the last four years looking at the punishment and regulation of crime, the reasons people commit crimes ranging from theories such as Lombroso’s atavistic criminal to Rational Choice Theory, and even how crime is defined in society, just to name a few. We aren’t the criminal profilers you observe in Criminal Minds but the academics criticizing the state of the criminal justice system and crime policy, among other things.

So, you may ask, what does this have to do with Captain America? On top of being an undergraduate studying crime and criminality, I’m a huge fan of comics and superheroes. Criminology has influenced how I see things in the media; the latest Marvel movie is no different and the first official trailer for Captain America: The Winter soldier, reveals much about the current culture of security in the US.

Captain America: Winter Soldier poster

The trailer begins with Captain America and Black Widow on board a SHIELD plane. Thirty-six seconds in, and he is already presented to the audience as an outsider. Captain America comments on his dead barbershop quartet, reminding us of his status as the “man out of time,” by referring to his dead friends and the non-existent barbershop quartets of 2014. Add in that he’s “too busy” to engage in social aspects of modern life like dating, and the comment from one of the other agents that he’s not wearing a parachute when jumping off the plane, and his outsider status is solidified. READ MORE

TRUTH: Red, White & Black – The Story of the First Captain America, July 4, 2015,

Truth: Red, White & Black #1-7

Truth: Red, White & Black #1-7 Writer(s) Robert Morales (writer), Kyle Baker (penciller, inker, colorist), Wes Abbott (letters), Axel Alonso and John Miesegaes (editors) Marvel Comics (January to June 2003)Robert Morales (writer), Kyle Baker (penciller, inker, colorist), Wes Abbott (letters), and Axel Alonso and John Miesegaes (editors)
Marvel Comics (January to June 2003)

When asked to add their thoughts to our roundtable on the “American Dream” and comics that reflect what it ought to be, Catie Coleman and Jess Pryde both turned their thoughts to Isaiah Bradleythe first Captain America from Marvel’s Truth: Red, White & Black. In light of recent events in the United States, this story means even more now than it ever did and is something every American should read and remember.

Catie Coleman: I’m still amazed that Truth: Red, White & Black actually exists, that Marvel let this subversive, brutally honest book about the dark side of the Captain America legacy actually get published under its own name. Reading it is almost like realizing, “Of course! This was part of the Captain America mythos all along, but it just took this book to actually spell it out.” Steve Roger’s dark mirror isn’t the Winter Soldier; it’s Isaiah Bradley who is tested and tortured without his consent, but went on to be a hero despite what was done to him. For that, he was locked up and experimented on some more, and opposed to the forever-young and beloved Captain America, in present-day Marvel comics, he’s disabled from all the trauma America has put him through. One more person chewed up and spat out in our quest for our national destiny.

Black bodies have always been expendable to the American government. You only have to look at the news about how we used minority soldiers as test subjects for chemical weapons to see why they’d use a black unit of soldiers to re-create the super soldier serum. It’s awful and true, and this story is a way of making Americans look at that history we are so good at pushing under the rug. READ MORE

Captain America vs. Superman: Who Would Win as a Role Model for My Daughters, May 1, 2014,

I’ve never been a fan of Superman, but it has not been until recently that I bothered to understand why. I thought I could simply blame my dislike for characters that are too goody goody, but a few interesting reads have made me realize that my dislike of the man of steel goes far deeper.

Meanwhile, I had never been a fan of Captain America because I assumed he was just another America-centric boy scout like Superman. The recent Captain America movies have not only relieved me of my ignorance, they have made it clear to me which character I am proud to share with my daughters, aged eight and five.

Fair warning, I have not seen Man of Steel and I am in no rush to do so. My thoughts on the film spawn from public opinion and the Honest Movie Trailer, both of which have filled me in on all I need to know about the latest incarnation of DC’s number one hero. And I most definitely am not in a rush to let my daughters see it because I just don’t feel the message it delivers is one I want to share with them at so young an age.

red sonOne of my favourite Superman stories is Superman: Red Son by Mark Millar, a “what if” story where Kal’El’s rocket lands in the Soviet Union and the little alien is taken under Stalin’s wing instead of Ma and Pa Kent. Millar reveals a being who does not do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, but because of his uncontrollable need to be in control. His desire for order. While he truly believes that he is helping humanity, what he is truly doing is taking away our freedom. Initially, Superman refuses to succeed Stalin, not wanting anything to do with politics. But when he sees the starving masses, he decides he must save them, by bringing order, first to the Soviet Union, and then the world. Only the United States, led by Lex Luthor, adamantly refuses to fall under the iron fist of Superman’s brand of “freedom.”

This is a theme that is also expressed wonderfully in Brian Azzarello’s Lex Luthor: Man of Steel, a book where I gained further insight into my dislike for Superman and greater appreciation for his rival, Lex Luthor. Lex despises Superman because what he sees is a dangerous alien who does not truly understand humanity. Without tempering forces in his life, such as friends and family, the Superman we know could easily become the tyrant we see inRed Son or Man of Steel who disregards civilian safety and kills an enemy in cold blood. READ MORE

Melinda Pierce

Melinda Pierce

Contributor for WWAC, mother of 2 mini-geeks, writer, and girl geek. Dreams of having enough time to write Veronica Mars fanfiction. @melindabpierce
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