It’s that time of the year when we celebrate America with fireworks and hamburgers. But we have something else to celebrate this year, the return of Captain America.
If you don’t remember, Cap (Steve Rogers) was killed off by Marvel Comics over two years ago during the comics “Civil War” series. Basically, “Civil War” pitied heroes against each other when the U.S. establishes the Superhuman Registration Act, where heroes had to reveal their identities. Some like Cap were against it, while friends like Tony Stark (Iron Man) were in favor of it, which caused the former allies to battle each other. Ultimately Cap was assassinated.
OK, enough with the background of “Civil War”.
We all thought Steve Rogers was dead and gone, but Marvel has announced that he will return in a five-issue series cleverly titled “Captain America: Reborn”.
Actually, when a comic company kills off a character it’s not all that shocking to see that character come back to life. I, along with a lot of other fans, am damn happy that Steve Rogers is returning. To honor the return of Captain America, let’s take a look at his origins.
Steve Rogers first appeared as Captain America in “Captain America Comics #1″ in March of 1941. The idea was conceived by writer Joe Simon and tuned up just a bit by Marvel’s legendary artist Jack Kirby. The duo used Cap as a purely propaganda character in response to Nazi Germany, since both Simon and Kirby were appealed by the actions of Germany.
“Captain America Comics #1″ actually went on sale in December of 1940, which was a year before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor; however, World War II was already in full swing. The classic cover of “Captain America Comics #1″ depicts Cap punching Hitler in the jaw and went on to sell almost a million copies. While most people loved the “patriotically themed superhero”, there were those opposed to what Cap stood for.
In fact, Simon and Kirby received a lot of hate mail and death threats for their creation. Eventually, Cap went on to become one of the most enduring characters of the era as he faced off against the Nazis, Japanese and other wartime enemies. Captain America’s popularity was so great the he even had his own fan club called “The Sentinentals of Liberty” and his comic circulated around a million copies a month, which surpassed circulations of Time Magazine!
OK, so what makes Captain America so awesome and beloved ?
First of all, check out his powers. Steve Rogers was a wimpy fine arts student, but with the aid of a super soldier serum, he became a lean, mean fighting machine. He also has the endurance, speed and reaction time that surpasses even the greatest of Olympic athletes.
Even cooler is that his body eliminates those poisons that cause fatigue, which allows him to have maximum endurance. On top of that Cap is also highly intelligent and is an expert at martial arts and hand to hand combat.
Basically, Captain America represents the everyman hero. He’s someone that any of us could become. Heroes like Batman may not have any powers, but he’s a billionaire, and not too many of us can claim that. With a kick ass work out regiment and your own super soldier serum (aka steroids), you too could become Captain America.
Another cool thing about Cap is his simple, yet powerful costume. His suit says it all. It’s an American flag that lets everyone know who he’s fighting for. Plus, he’s got that indestructible shield to go along with that costume which can also be used as a weapon. Cap doesn’t need a gun, sword or any other weapon because he’s such a bad ass.
The final thing that makes Captain America the ultimate patriot is that he is willingly to die for America, but isn’t a mindless boy scout who does as his told, like Superman. If Cap disagrees with the government that made him, he’ll let them know. And isn’t that what a patriot does? Someone who goes to the front lines for their country, but is also ready to defend the rights of the country that they love, even if that means disagreeing with them.
Now, Captain America wouldn’t be Captain America with his nemesis, The Red Skull.
The Red Skull has been battling Cap since day one, as his first appearance was in “Captain America Comics #1″. Like Cap, The Red Skull was also created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. The Skull also inhabits a body fueled by the same super soldier serum that made Captain America; actually, he’s a clone of Cap. But the comparisons end there.
Unlike Cap, the Red Skull doesn’t exhibit the same strength and athletic abilities, but he does posses a superior intellect and inventive genius. He’s also pretty handy with guns and explosions. And, the super soldier serum created mutagenic alterations to his body, which explains why his face is well, a red skull. Oh yeah, he’s also a Nazi!
Originally, the Red Skull was an American industrialist turned Nazi saboteur, named George John Maxon, who was even trained in marksmanship by Hitler himself. What a dick! Since then, there have been two other incarnations of the Red Skull.
The second, and true Red Skull Johann Schmidt, was also a Nazi. Big surprise right? While the third Red Skull, Albert Malik, was updated just a bit and became a Communist. In fact, it was the third Red Skull that killed the parents of one Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, which forced Parker to live with his Uncle Ben and Aunt May. The Red Skull is not only just a threat to Captain America and the U.S., but to all of humanity. In fact, he was ranked at number 21 in Wizard Magazines 100 Greatest Villains Ever.
Throughout the years Captain America’s comics have sold an estimated 210 million copies and has been circulated in 75 countries. That makes Captain America as American as a Will Smith flick, who’s been rumored to portray Captain America in the upcoming The First Avenger: Captain America.
Because of his legacy, and what this character stands for, I’m all tingly inside that Steve Rogers is back. And I think everyone needs to pick up a copy of “Captain America: Reborn”.
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