And now, back to your regularly-scheduled Joe Simon week. Today, the obvious choice: a “living legend” created by a living legend.
72. Captain America
When Captain America throws his mighty shield,
All those who chose to oppose his shield must yield!
If he’s led to a fight and a duel is due,
Then the red and the white and the blue’ll come through
When Captain America throws his mighty shield!
You can listen to the theme from the 60’s cartoon here. Best superhero theme ever. Booyah.
And yeah, I said living legend. Captain America isn’t dead. He can’t die, he’ll never die. Beneath his mask and shield there is more than flesh, there is an idea. And as our pal V told us, ideas are bulletproof. Of course, Steve Rogers is the good Captain, and he shall return in our hour of need. It’s not like a superhero hasn’t died before.
Joe Simon, co-creator of the character with Jack Kirby, told us himself: “It’s a hell of a time for him to go. We really need him now.” Damn straight, sir.
From his first appearance, socking Hitler on the jaw, Cap has represented the zeitgeist of America. He stands for the ideal of the American spirit: life, liberty, truth, justice, doing what’s right despite personal harm. He won’t bow to the American government if he doesn’t believe they’re doing the right thing. He’s the hero of the people. He is the soul of America. Superman is the perfect immigrant story; Captain America’s story is that of a homegrown boy done good.
We all know his origin and we’ve all seen his adventures; a skinny kid who wanted to fight for his country, Steve Rogers underwent experimental processes that turned him into the world’s only super-soldier, and he kicked Nazi butt until he was frozen in a block of ice and resurrected in “modern times,” be they the 60’s or the 90’s or whenever continuity retcons it in. He was a man out of time, but his message and meaning were the same, and carried the same strengths as they did in World War II. In the times of prejudice, he fought side-by-side with a black partner, the Falcon. He’s against war and oppression and evil. In today’s world of fear and terrorism and untrustworthy government, we really do need him to be there for us.
He’s the leader of the Avengers– a man who can command gods. Everyone in the Marvel Universe, and the readers thereof, respect Captain America more than any other hero. How could they not?
The flag outfit, the shield– it’s a great visual. Cap is a tower of freedom, a rock for the country to lean on. He holds far more weight and power than most comics characters because of what he represents, even to people who have never picked up a comic. MLJ’s Shield may have pre-dated him, but Cap became the archetype. And look how many patriotic heroes have followed him! Even Joe Simon followed up with Fighting American and his own adventures of the Shield, but none of these overpowered Captain America. Cap is America. He was a perfect creation who showed up at the right place and time.
I admit, Cap’s not necessarily one of my favorite characters, and I don’t own huge runs with him– but I am awed by him and the powerful concept behind him. One of my first ever comics was a Captain America annual– and, really, those comics I was reading before I could even read are why I’m here. Hell, back then, I even loved Cap-Wolf. For that reason, I still do. I would love to write Cap’s adventures one day and add to the tapestry.
I come to praise Cap, not to bury him. He’s immortal, remember, in the pages of comics history. As long as there’s an America, there’ll be a Captain America. Hell, vote for Cap in ’08. They’ll have brought him back by then. Haha!
Oh Captain, my Captain– I salute you. ‘Nuff said.