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Thursday, May 23, 2013 

The Plain Dealer's superficial history of Captain America

The Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote about what they say is the complicated story of the 5 different Caps and Buckys who appeared over 7 decades. But they do it all in the most superficial way possible. The most galling part is the reference to The Truth: Red, White and Black miniseries:
In 2003, Marvel re-engineered the legend to say that the experiments to recreate the serum continued in 1942, using African American test subjects. Three hundred soldiers were tested, only five survived. They were sent on secret missions during World War II and only one, Isiah Bradley, survived. Bradley was captured by Germans, later rescued but then imprisoned by the American government in 1943 to keep the experiments a secret.

In 1960, Bradley was pardoned by President Eisenhower and released. Captain America learned of his existence in 2003 and went to visit him, but found that Bradley's mind and body were ravaged by the serum and Alzheimer's.

Bradley's grandson, Elijah Bradley, used an illegal Mutant Growth Hormone serum to gain superpowers and become The Patriot and join The Young Avengers.
They say this with nary a critical, objective word of any kind about how the story managed to be a few negative things at once: a]anti-American, b]anti-war, c]stereotypical in character design of blacks with juvenile artwork that only took away any seriousness the story had, and d]even offensive to victims and veterans of WW2. And as Jonah Goldberg's commentary from a few years ago makes clear, the research Marvel did about the Tuskagee experiment was not accurate.

The Plain Dealer said about the Nomad period:
Captain America learned that an evil organization was being run out of the White House. When he learned that the leader was a thinly-disguised Richard Nixon, he was so disillusioned that he abandoned his Captain America identity. He later became Nomad, the "man without a country." He eventually decided that the country needed heroes and put the mask back on.
Okay, but was the premise of Cap trading in his red, white and blues for the Nomad guise and shedding his nationality a good idea to begin with? Being let down with his country over the actions of one mere politician is silly, when there's millions of other people around the USA whom the metaphorical president seen in the story didn't speak for.

The female Bucky from the Heroes Reborn era is also referenced:
The most recent addition to the Captain America mythos is Rikki Barnes, who's literally out of this world. Rikki is the Bucky of an alternate universe who came to the regular Marvel Universe in a plot way too complicated to explain quickly.

Once here, she felt it would be more appropriate to abandon her Bucky persona and adopt Cap's old alias, Nomad. Instead of Cap's "Man without a country," her tag line is "The girl without a world."
It may be too much to explain in the space of a printed rag, but it shouldn't be too hard to tell anybody the Heroes Reborn take on Captain America was a botch job, thanks to the awful Rob Liefeld both in artwork and writing. Nobody looking for great escapism should be tricked into wasting their time on that rendition, but the paper fails to say so.

These superficial takes on history without critical opinion are precisely why the quality of writing has become so bad.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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