When Marvel's Captain America Was Inadvertently Racist

Knowledge Waits is a feature where I just share some bit of comic book history that interests me.

Today, I thought I'd give Mark Gruenwald some props for how well he handled a situation when he ended up with a character that could be seen as racist by readers back in the 1980s.

In Captain America #323, Gruenwald (working with artists Paul Neary and John Beatty) introduced an interesting new rival for Captain America, a charlatan named Super-Patriot, who was clearly just trying to cash in on his patriotism. He gave speeches to sold out crowds and at one of his rallies, he is attacked by a group calling themselves the "Buckies," who ostensibly hate him because they side with Captain America, who had recently made the news at the time because he had to kill a terrorist with a machine gun to save a bunch of lives. So the Buckys attack in Cap's name...

Obviously, this was all a sham. Later, the Buckys actually attacked Captain America himself!!

A few issues later, we see the Buckys doing some super racist stuff, as they hassle a group of foreign students at a college. This was the time that we absolutely learn that they are working in concert with Super-Patriot, who is using them to see if attacks on "terrorists" would be good publicity for him (as he thinks Cap was getting good publicity recently because of him killing that terrorist)....

So we know that those “Bold Urban Commandoes" are just pawns in a larger game. Well, a few issues later, in a conflict with the government (later revealed to have been orchestrated by the Red Skull), Steve Rogers quit his "job" as Captain America, giving up the costume and his famous shield to the government, because they ostensibly owned them both.

The government then had to find a replacement for Captain America and they did a big search and ended up with the Super-Patriot himself, whose real name was Johnny Walker (yes, I know, weird choice to name him Johnny Walker). In Captain America #334 (by Gruenwald, Tom Morgan and the late, great Dave Hunt), the new Captain America meets his new Bucky, who is actually one of his old friends from the Buckys, Lemar Hoskins!

They awkwardly work with the Commission, who are also the people behind turning the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants into Freedom Force...

It was an interesting story of seeing these guys who were in it for all the wrong reasons now getting a chance to do things for the RIGHT reason and seeing how they adjust. It was especially sweet seeing Lemar, who was never anything more than just muscle, get a chance to become a true hero. It was a fun contrast with the thing that was going on with Steve Rogers, who was becoming his own hero, the Captain, to contrast the situation between the two heroes.

Anyhow, the issue at hand is the fact that, well, calling a grown man "Bucky" was a bit rough, for both the fact that you're having a grown man dress up like a little kid and the name "Buck" is awfully close to "Bucky." Someone fills Gruenwald in soon...

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