I just rediscovered this comic book, Captain America Annual 2001, written by Dan Jurgens. For the uninitiated, annuals are special edition comics that come out once a year (you probably guessed that part), usually in the summer, and have the option of telling a special story about the characters that may not fit into the regularly scheduled storyline. Right now, my long boxes are stacked in the closet, and so I can only get to the first part of the alphabet, so I've been reading more Avengers, Batman, and Captain America stories.
I like this one in particular because it's pre 9/11 and has Marvel Universe President Bush in it. I say "Marvel Universe President Bush," because the model in the comic is respectful, thoughtful, polite, follows through on his word, honors himself and his family, and shows no signs of cockiness. He is subservient, as he should be, to Captain America, and, on the face of things, this is like seeing America as it is (Bush) and America as it should be (Cap) face to face.
Many people (mostly geeks) have wondered about the relevance of the Captain in this day and age. Captain America is supposed to be the avatar of liberty, the ultimate representative of America's potential. He is supposed to represent acceptance, cooperation, fighting the good fight, sticking up for the weak and helpless, second chances (check out his origin story), freedom, choices, and tolerance without muddling of one's own beliefs. A tall order, and about 180 degrees off from what we have become as a nation. It's really not a bad model for judging the current state of the nation, if you think about it - WWCAD? What Would Captain America Do?
Would Captain America have let Osama bin Laden get away? No. Would he have allowed the situation that created nutcases like bin Laden to exist, foment zealotry and come to fruition in a terrorist action? Not if it was in his power to stop it, no. Would Captain America listen to Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, or Rush Limbaugh? Hell, no. Captain America knows a small-minded propagandist when he sees one. Would he support your right to choose what you do with your body, whether it be abortion, drugs, or sexual preference? You might get a stern talking-to about the drugs, son, but ultimately, Captain America would leave it up to you. And you wouldn't care when he called you 'son' 'cause he'd be so fucking respectful about it. Would Captain America want a firearm in the hands of someone untrained by the government, who might potentially misuse it? You bet your sweet ass he'd put a stop to that. Would Captain America approve of those people in positions of power who rule by fear and manipulation and who seek to crush opposition while converting people using hatred and lies? Fuck, I have comics where Cap puts those people away. Finally, would Captain America approve of my language in this blog? Uh, darn it, no. No, he wouldn't. There again, though - he'd support my right to say it.
So it's a higher standard. An idealized standard, an America you could love if it existed. The relevance of a character like Captain America (as opposed to shit like this) is that he represents what we ought to be.
"Where I stand, I don't see war. I see hate. I see men and women and children dying - because hate is blind. Blind enough to hold a nation accountable for the actions of a man. I can't be part of that." - Captain America (as written, in this case, by John Ney Rieber)