Captain America: Trump Card

First of all: Massive Spoilers for the current Captain America series as well as Red Skull: Incarnate, Marvel Civil War and Captain America #1.

In 1968, Jack Kirby and Joe Simon wrote and drew Captain America #1; the debut of a character who was blessed by a Super Soldier Serum that made him stronger, faster and smarter than the average soldier but who’s real power came from his love of his fellow man and his distrust of bullies.

Captain America (real name Steve Rogers) fought in the second world war against the Nazi party and their puppet masters; a shadow-government that sought to remove mankind’s free will known as Hydra. Steve would make many enemies in this conflict; Baron Zemo, Arnim Zola, but the worst of them all was the Red Skull. But before that, he grew up as a poor son of an Irish immigrant and an angry drunk. Steve was a weak man naturally but he learned from a young age that submitting to bullies only ensures they will return. To defend yourself and others from the wicked was the only way. He attempted to defend a German immigrant by the name of Abraham Erskine from what he perceived to be muggers (they were, in fact Hydra agents attempting to get the Super Soldier Serum from Erskine). Dr. Erskine saw something in Steve Rogers that he did not see in all of the American Soldiers that volunteered for the program.

Johann Schmidt grew up as a poor orphan in a corrupt orphanage in Berlin, where he was beaten by orphans and caretakers both. Despite this, he managed to save a puppy he found in the street. Orphaned, just like him. He kept the dog by hiding it in his room and clothes and feeding it half of his every meal. His canine friend was killed by larger dogs when the two snuck out of the orphanage. Johann killed the dogs, realizing that one can only know peace through cruelty. He would join the german army and the Nazi party and climb the ranks until he was invited to join Hydra. He would then use an incomplete version of the Super Soldier Serum on himself (Dr. Abraham Erskine defected from the SS shortly prior). This incomplete version made him more powerful than your average person, but it also deformed his face to a grotesque Red Skull. And so, he adopted the name.

Today, Red Skull has gained a cult following in modern day America due to his claims that “criminal trespassers” “make a mockery” of America’s borders and calls the refugees in Germany an “invading army” bringing “fanatical beliefs and crime” to Europe. Captain America has Hailed Hydra and revealed that he was always a member of the organization, since childhood. It was later revealed, however, that Steve Rogers actually had his memories rewritten by a cosmic power at the behest of Red Skull.

This ultimately means that Nazi-style totalitarianism is making a comeback, and America’s stalwart defender is brainwashed to be a part of it. If that sounds like an accident, I assure you it is not. Nick Spencer is currently writing the series and has claimed that the events of the comic are inspired by current events, though he was smart enough not to specify which. (http://time.com/4347224/captain-america-hydra-agent-marvel-tom-brevoort/)

If this seems like an odd vector for societal commentary, I would like to point out that Captain America literally began as a soldier with a shield who crossed the ocean to get between Europeans and Nazi bullets.

Subtle.

More recently, the marvel comic series Civil War came out during the signing of the Patriot Act and many other post 9/11 legislations that would trade freedom for security. The conflict in the comic was caused by an explosion on American soil that made many feel unsafe. This lead to the US government trying (and ultimately succeeding) to pass legislation that would limit the freedoms of superheroes.

Comics aren’t just fun, they are often a great outlet for societal commentary, and now is no different.