Monday, August 22, 2011

Captain America week is over ( reloaded )

As you may have noticed there was no post after the german version of the big Captain America post last Thursday. After five posts in five days I needed a break to recharge my creative batteries.

I thought about doing another post during the weekend but on Saturday I took on more housecleaning than I could handle and the fact that I hadn´t eaten before ( and was probably a bit dehydrated ) didn´t really help.

These last few days it´s been prety hot in Germany and for most of the remaining day I was K.O. On Sunday I was still recovering from that but I DID manage to overhaul the Captain America posts to include links to all other parts for all readers who don´t come here on a regular basis and therefore don´t read the posts in chronological order. I also included the links in the TOP TEN POST so that from now on all new readers can read it in smaller parts that are easier to digest. At least that´s what I hope.

Like I had already expected I didn´t watch the new Captain America movie during the weekend but I saw PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN - ON STRANGER TIDES and PRIEST. The second one is the adaption of a manga and though I´m not familiar with it it was an entertaining action flick. Now the fourth part of PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN was waaay better than the second and third part and a real return to former glory. Penelope Cruz brought spanish pride to the movie with her marvelous performance ( she does a great Captain Jack Sparrow )

although the movie poster with her does look a bit familiar.

And Johnny Depp - well, he started the whole franchise and he´s still the glue holding the whole shebang together. It also seems that somebody remembered what the whole thing is about : pirates and horror and fighting and strange, deadly pirate magic and terrifying curses.

So, to close the whole matter of CAPTAIN AMERICA WEEK I wanted to do a post on Sunday ( which as you might have already ascertained ) that didn´t happen but better late than never. I have just finished reading THE THING - PROJECT PEGASUS HC which is a story I have heard a lot of good things about but I never was quite sure if I knew the story. There were some vague recollections of Ben Grimm as head of security at a top notch government facility but nothing in particular that stuck in my brain.

After my lecture of the hardcover ( I really prefer them over the trades lately ) I can say that I read some chapters of it as the first two issues were - probably - even released in german. I definitely recall the issue with Captain America, the Thing and the Man Thing. Okay, according to the Fantastic Four Index on MARVEL COMICS - ONLINE both issues are in DIE FANTASTISCHEN VIER Comic Taschenbuch Nr. 7, but like with most pocket books by Condor the text was reduced to a few short sentences.

Yes, Captain America is in issues 42 and 43 of MARVEL - TWO - IN - ONE ( and issue 43 does have two things in one : Thing and Man Thing ) and I noticed one thing. Captain America and especially the supersoldier formula are a bigger part of the Marvel universe than I remembered.

I always thought it was kind of unrealistic how the ULTIMATES were centered so much on the supersoldier formula but apparently this was also true in the regular Marvel universe. I thought about doing a " six degrees of separation of Captain America " post but since Cap has teamed up with at least 50 percent of every abled body in the Marvel universe as part of the Avengers this would probably not work.


In PROJECT PEGASUS one of the guest stars is Man Thing a.k.a. Dr. Ted Sallis who tried to recreate the supersoldier formula and, like his counterpart in the DC universe he flees some evil characters and ends up in the swamp after injecting himself with the serum. The chemicals and mystic forces ( seems he just happened to crash his car into the nexus of all realities ) transform him into a swamp creature and from that moment on " Whatever knows fear burns at the Man - Thing's touch ! "

That´s the best known line from the Man - Thing comics and you can insert your own GIANT SIZED MAN - THING joke here. The villain in the first two issues of PROJECT PEGASUS is Victorius a.k.a. Victor Conrad who - what a great coincidence - also tried to recreate the super soldier formula but who succeeded. Maybe he should have started a club with the Man Thing instead of fighting.

It seems everybody wants to copy Captain America in one way or the other and if it´s not by trying to recreate the supersoldier formula it´s by using Cap´s body as a blueprint. The Beyonder built himself a copy of Captain America´s body to inhabit when he came to earth for a visit during SECRET WARS II and when the son of the original Red Skull cloned himself a new body he used Steve Rogers´DNA. I think the usual argument is that Captain America is at " the peak of human condition " which would result in him getting laid more often - if he wasn´t Captain America. Not that being an old - fashioned superhero has something to do with scoring with the ladies, as both Aquaman and Hawkman got lucky with Power Girl. But it seems that´s some territory Marvel doesn´t want to dive into. At least until they are convinced there´s money to be made.

As it is Tony Stark is the Paris Hilton of the Marvel universe. He´s rich, he has an alcohol problem and he slept with most women in the Marvel universe including She Hulk. He gets a lot of bad press and he even was Public Enemy Number 1 during Osborn´s DARK REIGN.

Back to PROJECT PEGASUS, I did enjoy the chapters by John Byrne more than I thought and the chapters penciled by George Perez less than I expected , mostly due to the fact that this is pre - Titans George Perez.

Nevertheless is a solid read and I like these books where tons of third stringers get their five minutes of fame which in this case includes Deathlok, my favorite killer cyborg from the 70s who I just love to death ,

Fantastic Four antagonist Thundra who always pines after Benjamin Grimm but also always ends up having to go up against him

Titania ( later the Absorbing Man´s main squeeze and She - Hulk´s archnemesis ), Screaming Mimi ( later the Thunderbolt´s Songbird ) and the rest of the grapplers. It also features Black Goliath Dr. William Barrett Foster who here adapts the moniker of Giant - Man in these issues

and who is mostly known Today for being the first causality of the superhero CIVIL WAR. It´s always the brother who gets it first.

This is also one of the first adventures of Quasar Wendell Vaughn

who changes his name from Marvel Man and wears the same costume

as Marvel Boy a.k.a. Bob Grayson who first was a superhero in the 50s and who later became an adversary of the Fantastic Four.

In the fight he blew himself up ( the story behind that is complicated ) and left the Nega Bands behind which were given to the Cosmic Potector from then on. There was another Marvel Boy in the Marvel universe, Kree warrior Noh - Var who was recruited by Norman Osborn to be one of his DARK AVENGERS but he left the team after finding out who Norman really was. He´s currently one of the Avengers under the name of Protector.

And since we´re on the subject of characters with the same name, the Nth Man in this story is Dr. Thomas Lightner TVFKAB or " the villain formerly known as Blacksun ". Not the ultimate ninja from the Larry Hama penned NTH MAN series.

Despite all this confusing trivia - which you really don´t need to know to enjoy the story and the parts you need to know are explained in the story - it´s a fun read with more guest stars and surprise villains that you can shake a stick at. Not that I think shaking a stick would help against Klaw.

Or that I could do a lot of stick shaking at the moment. If you´re into 70s mayhem in the mighty Marvel manner ( back when Marvel really was the real deal ), lots of costumed villains and heroes going at it with gusto and great art by icons like Sal Buscema, John Byrne and George Perez this might be just the right book for you. And if not maybe you want to give it a try and who knows, you may become a true believer. In any case, this comic gets my recommendation. The Thing - Project Pegasus : I allow it !

The volume contains 8 issues, the initial two parter by non - Karate Kid Ralph Macchio and the six part follow - up by Ralph Macchio and Mark Gruenwald ( who wrote one of the best periods in Cap history ).

I think back at the time Marvel´s policy was not to do big sagas ( which was anything longer than two issues ) but since MARVEL - TWO - IN - ONE was not the big seller to begin with the editor greenlighted it much to the delight of future comic reading generations and it´s still one of the most popular storylines involving the Thing.

As always, I don´t expect my readers to just take my word for it so here are other comicfans who like the storyline as much as I do :

First of is Win Wiacek from NOW READ THIS ( I have no idea if he´s related to famous inker Bob Wiacek ) who writes an informative - although it includes some spoilers - review of the first trade edition of this storyline that also included MARVEL - TWO - IN - ONE 60 with The Thing and Impossible Man in ‘ Happiness is a Warm Alien ’.

Fellow bloggers Karen and Doug from BRONZE AGE BABIES discuss issues 53 to 58 - issue 53 / issue 54 / issue 55 / issue 56 / issue 57 / issue 58

Neal Patterson from POLYVINYLMAN even thinks it would make for a brilliant movie adaption and when i think about the brilliant X - MEN FIRST CLASS he might be right. Wow, this was supposed to be just a short post and now it´s evolved into a full - fledged comic book review.

Now somebody once said that those who remember the 70s did not experience them, so for all drug abusing juvenile delinquents with memory gaps here´s a version of AQUARIUS from the musical HAIR that features pin up goddess Raquel Welch, dozens of freaked out costumes and the singing voice of Tina Cole. Who has already read the PROJECT PEGASUS story knows how it ties into it - the rest will have to find out.

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mein extrem langer Captain America post

So here is the german version of MY BIG CAPTAIN AMERICA POST that´s as close to the original version as I´m going to get ( click here for part 1 , 2 and 3 of the introduction ) . Back when I first posted it on my blog the introduction was rather short but I think I´ll have to explain a few things that Today´s reader may not be aware of. This post finishes my recycling of an old post and yes, that´s just a cheap way of improving the post quota for this month but I would have had to do it someday anyway. I don´t know what I´ll be doing for the rest of CAPTAIN AMERICA WEEK though I´m pretty certain I won´t translate it to spanish. Although I just might.

Tja, ich hatte mal was bei Comicgate geschrieben was meine Ansichten zu Captain America ziemlich gut auf den Punkt gebracht hat. Das war immer sehr angenehm zu verlinken. Aber anscheinend war es nicht wert für die Nachwelt aufgehoben zu werden. Das einzige was ich noch habe ist der Text aus meiner e - mail wobei ich nicht weiss, ob es sich um den ersten Versuch oder um die endgültige Fassung handelt.

Ich sollte diesen Text wahrscheinlich nicht posten, da ich schon die ersten beiden Male fast zum Staatsfeind Nummer 1 erklärt worden bin. Aber da ich schon die ersten beiden Male nicht so vernünftig war auf mich selbst zu hören wird mich das sicher nicht vom dritten Mal abhalten. Die eigentliche Geburtsstunde dieses Essays, welches anschliessend das erste Mal auf Comicgate die breite deutsche Öffentlichkeit zu Fackeln und Mistgabeln greifen liess, war als die ersten Kapitel von John Ney Riebers und John Cassadays Captain America Neustart auf deutsch erschienen waren.

Und um die Wahrheit zu sagen, ich hatte einfach die Schnauze voll bis zur Oberkante Unterlippe von der ganzen S - Wort, die Leute die aber so was von gar keine Ahnung von Captain America hatten, auf deutschen Internetforen schrieben. Als langjähriger Captain America - fan und - leser wollte ich einfach ein paar Sachen klar stellen und ein paar Leuten in den Hintern treten - wenn auch nur metaphorisch.

Es scheint die Geschichte liebt es sich zu wiederholen ( und nein, das hat nichts mit Widerstand zu tun ) denn als ich den Text Jahre später auf meinen blog postete war gerade das erste MARVEL MONSTER von Ed Brubaker und Steve Epting erschienen. Wie schon zuvor gab es viele unqualifizierte Kommentare von Leuten die gerade die erste GUTE Captain America Geschichte in ihrem ganzen Leben gelesen hatten - oder sogar die erste Captain America Geschichte überhaupt.

Wie ich schon damals prophezeite ist heutzutage die Saga ( als etwas anderes lässt sie sich schlecht bezeichnen ) von Ed Brubaker und Steve Epting allgemein als eine der herausragenden Etappen von Captain America anerkannt, sodass eine Vielzahl von Comiclesern ihre negative Einstellung zu Captain America geändert haben. Und viele haben ihn gar nicht anders kennengelernt als als vielschichtigen und interessanten Charakter. Qualität überzeugt nunmal. Als ich den Originaltext geschrieben habe war ich allerdings auf weiter Flur fast der einzige Captain America Verteidiger und damit im Hinterkopf machen wir nun eine Zeitreise zurück zum Monat Mai 2003 :


Wenn du gerade den Titel gelesen hast und sich deine rechte Hand ( nach einem lautem Aufklatschen ) gerade an deiner Stirn befindet, denkst du wohl gerade " Der Typ spinnt doch. Captain America ist doch stinkelangweilig. Das ist doch nur Propaganda. "

Falls das nicht der Fall ist, und du denkst " Hey, Cap ist auch einer meiner Lieblingscharaktere. " dann möchte ich dir gratulieren. Du gehörst zu einer Minderheit innerhalb der deutschen Comicleserschaft und hast dich ernsthaft mit Captain America auseinandergesetzt.

Und bevor jetzt ein großes Geschrei losgeht möchte ich zwei Dinge vorausschicken :

Erstens. Dass die meisten deutschen Comicleser mit Cap nichts anfangen können ist nichts, was ich mir aus den Fingern sauge. Das ist etwas, daß ich in Dutzenden von Diskussionen, sei es in Internetforen, Comicläden oder Comicbörsen, lernen musste. Und das ist auch keine Modeerscheinung, die sich auf das stetig wachsende unamerikanische Klima in Deutschland zurückführen lässt da dieses Phänomen schon vor dem 11. September aufgetreten ist. Ich verstehe diese ganze negative Einstellung, die hier die gesamte Bevölkerung unterjocht zu haben scheint nicht. Auf der einen Seite wird gegen Amerika gelästert, weil man da angeblich keine Kritik an der Bushregierung äussern darf ( eine These die bei der letzten Oscarverleihung wiederlegt wurde ). Auf der anderen Seite, Meinungsfreiheit schön und gut, aber versuch mal was Pro-Bush zu sagen. Da zeigt sich ob du schnell rennen kannst. Aber das ist ein Thema für eine Extrakolummne.

Zweitens. Wer bin ich denn, dass ich die deutschen Comicleser so verunglimpfe ? Was macht mich denn zum Comicexperten und Spezialisten für Deutschlandtum ?

Ich möchte die deutschen Leser gar nicht verunglimpfen ( dass schaffen die ganz gut alleine ), aber es ist nunmal eine Tatsache, daß Captain America in keinem anderen europäischen Land ( das ich kenne ) so ein schlechtes Image hat wie in Deutschland. Und zum Thema Deutschlandtum muss ich sagen, daß man Deutschland einfach mit anderen Augen sieht, wenn man zwar hier geboren ist aber erst zehn Jahre später die deutsche Staatsbürgerschaft erhält. Wenn man alles, was das deutsche Wesen ausmacht extra erlernen muss hat das einen ganz anderen Stellenwert. Jemand, der Deutsch als Fremdsprache erlernen muss, wird in der Schule immer bessere Noten haben als jemand der sich nie gross bemühen muss. Allein der Druck der auf einem lastet ist ganz anders. Aber zurück zum Thema.

Captain America und die Deutschen. Ich weiss nicht was es ist, aber obwohl die überwiegende Farbe im Kostüm blau ist scheint er für die meißten Leser ein rotes Tuch zu sein. Da braucht man nur Amerika zu hören und schon ist es aus. " Ich mag das Land nicht und den Typ kann ich schon gar nicht ab. Der hat gleich verschissen bei mir. Der läuft ja sogar in der amerikanische Flagge rum, das kann doch nur Propaganda sein."

Ist Captain America amerikanische Propaganda ? Definitiv nicht. Schauen wir uns doch mal den Charakter von Captain America etwas genauer an. Und damit meine ich nicht wie er auf den ersten Blick oberflächlich betrachtet wirkt, sondern was er darstellt. Entgegen landläufigen Meinungen sind das nämlich nicht die Vereinigten Staaten.

Es ist der Traum, das Ideal von Amerika. Die Vorstellungen die damit verknüpft sind. Nicht Amerika wie es ist oder mal war, sondern Amerika wie es sein sollte. So, wie es ursprünglich mal gedacht war als die Gründungsväter sich das vorgestellt haben. Keine Utopie, viel mehr die Vision Amerikas. Das klingt jetzt sehr propagandistisch aber verabschiede dich doch mal ganz kurz von dieser Vorstellung. Die Ideale, die den Charakter von Captain America ausmachen werden von einigen vielleicht als unrealistisch und Augenwischerei bezeichnet oder sie können generell mit der Vorstellung von Idealen in unserer zynischen und erbarmungslosen Realität nicht viel anfangen. Aber eigentlich klingen diese Ideale gar nicht so arg amerikanisch sondern eher universell.

Eine Regierung durch das Volk, mit dem Volk und für das Volk. Freie Wahlen. Gleichheit aller Menschen ganz gleich welchen Geschlechts, Glaubens, Rasse oder sexueller Ausrichtung. Der Glaube, daß jeder Mensch die Freiheit hat nach Individualität und Glück zu streben. Dass der Mensch über dem Gesetz und nicht das Gesetz über dem Mensch steht. Meinungsfreiheit in alle Richtungen. Daß jeder es ganz nach oben bringen kann.

Vieles davon sind Dinge an die auch ich glaube – bin ich dadurch veramerikanisiert ? Auch im Grundgesetz finden sich viele ähnliche Dinge....das Recht auf freie Entfaltung der Persönlichkeit, daß niemand diskriminiert werden darf wegen seiner Hautfarbe, seines Geschlechts, seiner Religion oder seiner Sexualität. Ist somit das Grundgesetz veramerikanisiert ? Sollten wir es auf den Müll werfen ? Sind das etwa Dinge auf die Amerika ein Copyright hat ? Ich gebe zu viele dieser Ideale sind in der Realität nicht so umgesetzt wie es sein sollte, weder in Amerika noch hier.

Aber das ist nur ein weiterer Grund weshalb Captain America so ein wichtiger Charakter ist. Captain America ist keine Werbung für Amerika, er ist eine ständige Ermahnung, den amerikanischen Grundgedanken nicht zu vergessen. Er zeigt wie Amerika sein sollte – ja sein müßte. Er ist Auseinandersetzung - mehr noch - Konfrontation ! Dies ist auch der Grund warum er die amerikanische Flagge tragen MUSS.

Nicht als Reklametafel sondern als optische Warntafel. Comics sind ein visuelles Medium, und wie bei jedem visuellen Medium reagiert der Mensch auf stärkere Stimulationen stärker. Deshalb muss man dem Leser die amerikanische Flagge vor den Latz knallen. Päng ! Setz dich damit auseinander. Damit der Leser, auch wenn zwanzig Superhelden beisammen sind, gleich weiss wer Captain America ist. Und gleich an Dinge wie Freiheit, Gleichheit und Gerechtigkeit denkt. Und deshalb kann er auch nicht American Eagle oder Flying Patriot heissen. Nein. CAPTAIN AMERICA. Nicht Americaman oder Mister America sondern Captain America. Mit Betonung auf Amerika.

Das mag jetzt sehr patriotisch klingen. Und das ist ein weiteres Problem, das viele in Deutschland mit Captain America haben. Denn es ist sehr schwierig in Deutschland den Unterschied zwischen Patriotismus, Nationalismus und Radikalismus zu definieren.

Viele meinen Captain America wäre zu patriotisch aber man muss bedenken, dass wir hier über einen Mann reden der sich für die Experimente eines Wissenschaftlers zur Verfügung gestellt hat, nur damit er in die Armee darf. So jemand ist einfach sehr patriotisch. Was aber ist denn nun ein Patriot ?

Ein Patriot ist jemand der auf sein Land stolz ist und das ist hier ein großes Problem. Weil das etwas ist, was man in Deutschland nicht sein darf - und falls man es doch sein sollte, besser nicht laut ausspricht. Gründe dafür mögen in der Vergangenheit liegen oder daran, daß hier Bescheidenheit dem Stolz vorgezogen wird ( zumal hier jeder der ein bisschen stolz auf seine Leistungen ist gnadenlos abgesägt wird – aber das nur am Rande ). Muss aber jemand der auf sein Land stolz ist alles gut finden was in seinem Land passiert ?

Nein. Wenn man mit jemanden befreundet ist, heisst das ja auch nicht, daß man alles toll findet was derjenige macht und tut. Vielleicht könnte er etwas abnehmen, öfter duschen oder sich in der Öffentlichkeit nicht immer so peinlich benehmen. Auch kann es sein, daß man in vielen Dingen anderer Meinung ist oder nicht alle Vorlieben teilt. Aber deshalb kündigt man nicht gleich die Freundschaft. Captain America ist nicht blind. Er weiss sehr gut, dass es auch und gerade in Amerika Ungerechtigkeiten, Korruption, Rassismus und Verbrechen gibt. Aber er verschliesst davor nicht die Augen. Denn dann wäre er wirklich blind. Er versucht vielmehr etwas dagegen zu tun, etwas zu ändern. Damit Amerika und die Welt mehr den Idealen entspricht.

Jemand hat mal gesagt, wer über Captain America schreibt, muss über Amerika schreiben. Denn das ist es, worum es bei ihm geht. Jede Geschichte, die er erzählt, ist abgesehen von allem anderen immer auch eine amerikanische Geschichte.

Eine Versinnbildlichung und Auseinandersetzung mit Amerika, was man sehr deutlich an den Captain America Heften der Siebziger sehen kann. Zu der Zeit war das amerikanische Volk aufgerüttelt und verunsichert, die alten Werte schienen zu bröckeln und viele Dinge wurden in Frage gestellt. Auch Cap tat dies und begab sich auf eine Suche. Eine Suche nach dem wahren Amerika, seiner Rolle in der Gesellschaft und letzten Endes nach seiner eigenen Idendität. Es ist nicht einfach, wenn man aus seiner vertrauten Umgebung in eine völlig unbekannte kommt. Umso mehr, wenn man seit dem 2. Weltkrieg im ewigen Eis eingefroren war.

Durch dieses ` Mann aus der Vergangenheit in der Jetztzeit ´ Element hat er eine ganz besondere Perspektive und Einsicht in die Dinge. Krieg ist nichts Fernes, Nebulöses, das man nur aus Erzählungen von Opa kennt. Er hat den Schrecken des Krieges am eigenen Leib erlebt und hat für die Freiheiten, die für andere selbstverständlich sind, selbst gekämpft. Die Folgen von Vorurteilen und Rassismus sind nicht etwas, das er aus Büchern, Filmen oder Museen kennt. Er war selbst in Dachau und Ausschwitz. Cap hat das Schlechteste im Menschen erlebt. Und trotzdem glaubt er an das Gute und kämpft dafür. Denn Captain America ist ein Soldat.Das scheinen viele vergessen zu haben, aber es macht einen grossen Teil seines Charakters aus.

Das paradoxe an Comiclesern ist, dass viele meinen daß Superheldencomics immer das gleiche sind und die Superhelden austauschbar. Wenn aber mal einer sich anders verhält wie der Durchschnittsheld sind sie total geschockt. Damit meine ich nicht nur die deutschen Comicleser.

Der Aufschrei der Entrüstung, der durch die amerikanische Comiclandschaft ging, als Cap einen Terroristen tötete, war immens. Was war passiert ? In der ersten Storyline der neuen Serie tötet Captain America einen Terroristen um die Zündung einer Bombe zu verhindern und Zivilisten vor dem Tod zu retten.

" Boah! Das kann man doch nicht machen. Captain America kann doch nicht töten. Das ist doch total out of character. Das passt doch gar nicht. "

Entschuldigung, aber das passt haargenau. Was hat Cap denn wohl während dem 2.Weltkrieg mit den feindlichen Soldaten gemacht ? Ihnen einen Klaps mit seinem Schild gegeben und ihnen dann eine ordentliche Standpauke gehalten ? Wir reden hier nicht von Superman, der nie tötet, oder Bat - Man, der keine Schusswaffen benutzt. Cap hat eine militärische Ausbildung, und dazu gehört auch sein Land zu verteidigen und Notfalls dafür zu töten. Er versucht es nach Möglichkeit zu vermeiden, wie jeder gute Soldat, andererseits schreckt er davor auch nicht zurück wenn es gilt Leben zu retten. Als Soldat versucht er die richtigen, die schwierigen Entscheidungen zu treffen und nimmt die Konsequenzen auf sich. Dabei heisst Soldat sein nicht, blindlings und ohne nachzudenken Befehle zu befolgen. Wer schon gedient hat weiss, daß es oft die Pflicht eines Soldaten ist Befehle nicht zu befolgen und zu ignorieren. Manchmal muss man sie auch verweigern. Diese Vorstellung, daß man Befehlsempfänger mit blindem Gehorsam gleichsetzen kann scheint aber sehr tief verwurzelt zu sein.

Kommen wir doch noch einmal auf die aktuelle Serie zurück. Viele fanden die erste Ausgabe geschmacklos oder pietätslos oder was weiss ich noch alles, weil das Thema des 11.Septembers behandelt wurde. Ich fände es geschmacklos wenn gerade diese Thema in Comics nicht behandelt worden wäre.

Sollten etwa die Comicmacher so weitermachen als ob nichts geschehen wäre ? Als wäre es egal ? Und wer sollte sich besser eignen etwas über das Thema zu sagen als eine Ikone wie Captain America ? Okay. Es gibt Leute, die sagen Comics sollten unpolitisch sein. Am Besten noch ohne soziale oder ideologische Botschaften. Und am allerbesten ohne eigene Meinungen der Macher. Sorry, aber welches Comic soll das sein ? Das klappt ja schon bei Micky Maus und Archie nicht. Comics haben Botschaften. Das Gute triumphiert über das Böse und Verbrechen zahlt sich nicht aus. Der anständige Kerl, der sich anstrengt, wird belohnt und der unsoziale Mensch, der den schnellen und einfachen Weg geht kriegt seine gerechte Strafe. Eine friedliche Lösung ist der gewalttätigen vorzuziehen. Wenn mehrere sich zusammentun können sie mehr erreichen als alleine.

Comics sind persönlich, denn sie werden von Menschen gemacht. Deshalb liest man Comics. Gerade bei jemandem wie Captain America kann man viel über die Person, die ihn schreibt erfahren, allein schon daran wie er angelegt ist. Welche Charaktereigenschaften werden hevorgehoben, welche Wesenszüge treten mehr in den Hintergrund ? Jeder Held hat ein eigenes Thema und jeder Schreiber interpretiert es auf seine eigene Weise.

Und das Thema von Captain America ist Amerika. Das Land, das Wort, das Ideal. Amerika, Demokratie, Geschichte und Freiheit - auch das sind seine Themen. Er repräsentiert, konfrontiert und stellt Fragen. Ein ständiger Dialog zwischen der Vergangenheit und der Gegenwart, zwischen Vorstellung und Realität. Wie eine Zwiebel, die immer neue Schichten offenbart, hat er in jedem Kontext eine andere Bedeutung. Und auch deshalb ist er der wichtigste Held Marvels.

An dieser Stelle hatte ich 2007 geschrieben dass sich in der Zwischenzeit nicht viel geändert hat ( was zum damaligen Zeitpunkt auch stimmte ) aber heute, 2011, sind sehr viele Comicleser zum Lager von Captain America konvertiert dank der unermüdlichen Anstrengungen von Ed Brubaker und einer wahren Riege von Comiczeichnern wie Steve Epting, Butch Guice, Michael Lark, Luke Ross etc. Und, man höre und staune, nach dem Sommermärchen und zwei Weltmeistertiteln der deutschen Frauenfußballelf haben die Deutschen gelernt - zumindest im Sport - stolz auf ihre Leistungen zu sein. Und wenn sogar die Deutschen in dieser hinsicht lernfähig sind mag für die ganze Welt noch Hoffnung bestehen.

And with that we have reached the end of the original big Captain America post. I´m not sure what I will do Tomorrow or even IF there will be a post Tomorrow. This is the fifth post in as many days and this month has already surpassed all previous months in regards of the number of posts per month. I might take a break from CAPTAIN AMERICA WEEK to do a news post or I might even do the spanish version - although only if there is a real interest for it ( which will probably include more swear words sinc that is how we spanish guys roll ). Because I´m lazy and this sucker takes a lot of work to translate.

Today´s clip is from the 70s Captain America movie ( and not the one from Yesterday which I so wrongly accredited ) that I just watched again and which is not as bad as I remember it. Mostly because what I remembered was from the tv show. It´s Cap vs the Red Skull and please, turn off the music or it will drive you crazy. And speaking of music to drive you crazy : I still have to find the Nick Fury movie with David Hasselhoff.

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My big Captain America post

Finally the SUBZERO has come back to Captain America ! Damn, it really doesn´t work in this case. Anyhow, time to get to the main event.

I know I probably shouldn´t post this again as I already got into a lot of trouble the first two times I posted this. When I first wrote this and it was first posted on Comicgate ( as I will explain a bit down the line ) the first chapters of John Ney Rieber´s and John Cassaday´s relaunch of Captain America had just been published, when I posted it on my blog the first MARVEL MONSTER with the first part of Ed Brubaker´s and steve Epting´s run on Captain America had just been published in Germany. That means in both occasions there was a lot of unqualified comments on german messageboards by readers who had just read their first GOOD Captain America story. Or even the first Captain America story in their whole life.

Being a son of spanish immigrants who was born in Germany and still had to apply for the german citizenship I had some firsthand experience how discriminating german law still is. Which is something most germans don´t see or don´t want to admit. As well as the fact that they do have prejudices - only in their case it´s what I call " reverse prejeduices ". Now you may ask yourself what the f - word that means. Okay. Here´s a simple answer :

Let´s take the example of black people. And I use the term because I don´t want to narrow it down to african - american people. I mean black people of all nations. So, according to the law black and white people should be treated equal. They are not.

It´s sad but as we have seen with the black / latino Spider - Man it´s still a big thing. The sad truth is that black people are still discriminated and a lot of people have prejudices about them - most often than not without any reasons.

Now, to improve the situation there are of course people who are working on changing that by raising awareness, educating people and passing laws. To overcome this a dialogue must be constantly maintained between all people. And that´s not a bad thing. The bad thing starts when laws that were meant to ensure that black and white are treated equal are implemented in a way that white people are discriminated.

I know, sounds weird but we had something similar in Germany with the female quota german companies had to have and which was ruled to be against the german constitution by the highest court in Germany. Because instead of simply stating that men and women have to be treated equal if they have the same qualification it forced german companies to have a certain number of female employees. Sounds good, I know, but it lead to cases in which companies were unable to hire a male person - no matter how good his qualification was - because the female quota demanded that they hired a female. Again, no matter how good her qualification was.

So in the end the german supreme court ruled that while treating men and women was a good thing the female quota was against the constitution because it did not treat men and women equal. Which, of course, wasn´t very popular with feminists in Germany but really, it´s their own fault for allowing Alice Schwarzer to become their leader and concentrate more on brainwashing women that sex is a bad thing instead of fighting for equal rights in workplaces and the society.

Of course there have to be laws that protect minorities or people who are discriminated. And it doesn´t matter if they are black, female, gay, handicapped or comic readers. But with laws there is a fine line between protecting one minority and starting to discriminate the rest. It´s like in the Avengers, when they were forced to accept a member just for being black : first with the Falcon and then with Triathlon. The absurdity of that was shown pretty good when Thor pointed out how ridiculous it is to choose heroes just based on their race or gender. To a nordic god those things seem unimportant and arbitrary.

And it´s also a fine line between helping black people and starting to discriminate white people. This is used as an example but sometimes there is the case that someone starts disliking white people which then turns into having a negative attitude against them and in the end he has prejudices against white people. Which is equally wrong as having prejudices against black people but since it´s not regulated by law it´s cool, it´s hip and it´s a sign that this person is very broadminded and has no prejudices. And that´s when you get " reverse prejudices ".

Sounds weird but I have often encountered people who think it´s a sign of being educated to discriminate the socially sanctioned and politically correct enemies.

Here in Germany it has sometimes reached such weird heigths that people who were openly bashing America stated they were being objective. I don´t know why the germans have this need to put down America, if it has something to do with an inferiority complex but is a fact that most germans don´t see. It´s a kind of " in the bubble - outside of the bubble " thing. As somebody outside of the bubble it has always been difficult for me to convince people inside the bubble how the world really is. And that can really get frustrating sometimes which is the part where you start writing a blog. And start writing about Captain America.

Wow, I think I just wrote the introduction to the introduction of MY BIG CAPTAIN AMERICA POST ( german version ) that comes after the introduction that was so long I had to split it into three parts ( 1 / 2 / 3 ) . Did I mention that I´m partially fond of introductions ? I would say without further introductions but it´s already too late for that. The baby has not only fallen into the well, it has grown itself gills and has come back as a grown up to wage war on all surface people. Instead I´m just saying : Let the shitstorm begin !

Originally written on Wednesday, May the 16th, 2007

Here as promised the english version of the text. For all my readers who can read german and english I want to say, yes I have taken a few liberties in the translation. But it is my text so I can decide how to adapt it into another language. And you always write different in different languages and use different expressions. The content is still the same.

Well, I once wrote something for Comicgate that showed my point of view concerning Captain America. That was always easy to link to. But apparently it was not worthy to keep for posterity. The only version I still have is the one from an e - mail and I don´t know if this is the first try or the final version. Now when I wrote it in May 2003 the first chapters of John Ney Rieber´s and John Cassaday´s relaunch of Captain America had just been published and my reason for writing it was that I was just pissed about all the crap that was written on german messageboards about Captain America by people who had little or no knowledge of the character. Having read the book for a long period of time I wanted to clear up a few things. It seems that history really has a tendency to repeat itself and four years later the circle has ended. So without further ado ( this introduction is longer than the german version since I don´t have to explain what was going on in the german comic scene at that time ) here is the text :


If you have just read the title and your right hand ( after making a loud, slapping sound ) is positioned on your forehead you are probably thinking right now : " That guy must be nuts. Captain America is dullsville. That´s only propaganda. "

If that is not the case and you are thinking : " Hey, Cap´s my favorite too. " than I want to congratulate you. You are part of a minority within the german comic readership that has seriously examinated the persona of Captain America.

And I want to say two things before you all start crying and moaning screaming bloody hell and damnation :

Firstly. That most german readers don´t care much for Cap is not something I am imagining. It´s something that I had to learn the hard way in dozens of discussions be it on messageboards, in comic shops or at comic conventions. And neither is it just a passing fad caused by the constantly rising unamerican climate of the last few months because this phenomenon happened long before September 11th. I don´t understand this whole negative attitude that seems to have subjugated the entire population. On one side America is bashed because you allegedly can´t utter any critique about the Bush administration ( a theory that was refuted during this year´s Oscar night ). On the other side while the freedom of expression is nice and all try to say something pro - bush. That´s when you can show your running skills. But that´s a topic for a separate column.

Secondly. Who am I to defame the german comic readers in such a way ? What makes me a comic expert and what´s more, a specialist for germanism ?

I don´t want to defame german comic readers ( that´s something they achieve themselves quite well ) but it is a fact that in no other european country ( that I know ) Captain America has such a bad image. And to the topic of germanism I have to say that you see Germany with different eyes if you receive the german citizenship ten years after your birth in this country. If you have to learn everything about german culture it has another importance. Someone who has to learn german as a foreign language will always have better grades in school than someone who never had to make a conscious effort. At the least the pressure that one experiences is on a whole different level. But back to topic.

Captain America and the germans. I don´t know what it is but despite the fact that the dominant color of Cap´s costume is blue to most readers it seems to be a red flag. They only need to hear " America " and that´s all she wrote. " I don´t like the country and I can´t stomach that guy neither. Parading around wearing the american flag - how can it be anything than american propaganda ? "

Is Captain America american propaganda ? Definitely not ! Let´s take a closer look at the character. And I don´t mean how he looks superficially at a first glance but what he represents. Because contrary to popular belief that are not the United States of America or the politics of the current legislation.

It´s the dream, the ideal of America. The ideas that are attached. Not America how it is or used to be but America how it is supposed to be. How the founding fathers envisioned it during it´s conception. No mere Utopia much more the vision of America. That may sound very propagandistic right now but why don´t you dispatch this thought for a moment ? The ideals that define the character of Captain America may be seen as unrealistic or hogwash by some people or they just don´t care much for the idea of ideals in general in our cynic and merciless times. But those ideals and beliefs don´t sound very american.....much more universal.

A government through the people by the people for the people. Free elections. All humans are equal no matter which gender, religion, race or sexual oriantation they may be. The believe in every man´s right to the pursuit of happiness and individuality. That people matter more than laws and not the other way around. Freedom of expression that works both ways. That everyone can achieve anything.

Many of those beliefs are personal beliefs to me - does that mean I´m americanized ? You can find similar things in german law......the right to freely express your personality, that nobody should be discriminated because of the color of his skin, his gender, his religion or sexual preferences. Is german law americanized ? Should we throw it in the garbage bin ? Are those beliefs copyrighted by America ? I admit many of these ideas are not realized like they should be - neither in Germany nor in America.

But that´s only one more reason why Captain America is such an important character. Captain America is no commercial for America, he is a constant reminder not to forget the american way of life. He shows America like it has to be - like it is supposed to be. He is dialog - even more - confrontation ! And that´s the reason why he HAS to wear the Stars and Stripes.

Not as advertisement but as a warning sign. Comics are a visual mass medium and people react stronger to strong stimuli. That is why you have to hit the reader right between the eyes with the american flag. Bang ! Deal with it. So that the reader instantly knows who is Captain America if he is standing between twenty other costumed crimefighters. So that he instantly thinks about things like Freedom, Liberty and Justice. And that´s the reason why he isn´t called American Eagle or Flying Patriot. No. CAPTAIN AMERICA. Not Americaman or Mister America but Captain America. Emphasis on America.

Which may sound very patriotic. And that´s another problem many germans have with Captain America. Because it´s very difficult to define the difference between patriotism, nationalism and radicalism.

Many say Captain America is too patriotic but you have to keep in mind that we are talking about a person who volunteered for the experiments of a scientist he never heard about only to be in the army. Such a person is very patriotic per se. But what is a patriot ? A patriot is someone who is proud of his country and that is a big problem in Germany. Because that is something that you are not allowed to be - and if you are you better not speak out. Reasons for that may lie in the past of this country or in the fact that they prefer modesty to pride ( anyone who dares to be a little proud of his achievements is cut down to size without mercy - but that´s just a sidenote ). But does someone who is proud of his country have to agree with everything that happens in his country ?

No. If you have a friend that doesn´t mean you applaud everything he does. Maybe he could loose some weight, shower more often or stop acting so embarrassing in public. And quite possibly you don´t agree on everything or have the same preferences. That doesn´t mean you stop being friends. Captain America is not blind. He knows very well, that even and especially in America there is injustice, corruption, racissm and crime. But he doesn´t close his eyes to the facts. Than he would be really blind. Moreso he tries to do something against that and to change the status quo. So that Amerika and the whole world becomes a better place.

Someone once said that to write about Captain America means to write about America. Because that´s what he is all about. Every story he tells is always a story about America and american history. An allegory and a discussion about America. You can see this exceptionally well in the comics of the 70s. At that time the american people were shaken and insecure. Old values began to loose weight and many things were questioned. Cap did the same and went on a quest. He began a search for the real America, for his role in society and lastly for his own identity.

It isn´t easy to leave your familiar environment for totally unknown territory. Even moreso if you have been frozen in a block of ice since the second world war. With this element of " a man out of time " Cap has a unique perspective and insight into things. War is nothing foggy or far away that he only knows through his grandfather´s tales. He experienced the horrors of war himself and has fought for the liberties other people may take for granted. The results of prejudices and racism are not something he only knows from books, old newsreels or museums. He was at Dachau and Auschwitz. Cap has experienced mankind´s worst. But he still believes in man´s ability to do good and fights for it. Because Captain America is a soldier. Many seem to have forgotten this fact but it´s a big part of him.

The paradox thing with comic readers is that many think that superhero comics are all the same formulaic " beat them up " and that superheroes are interchangable. But when someone suddenly behaves different than your average superhero the average comic reader is shocked.

And I don´t mean only german comic readers. There was a massive outcry of indignation that swept the american comic landscape when Cap killed a terrorist during the Rieber run. What had happened ? In the first storyline Cap kills a terrorist to prevent him from detonating a bomb, to save the lives civilians.

" Hell, you can´t do that. Captain America can´t kill. That´s totally out of character. That´s not like Cap. "

Sorry, but that´s absolutely " in character " for Cap. What did Cap do with the enemy soldiers during world war two ? Give them a spanking with his shield and than a lecture ? We are not talking about Superman who never kills. Or Batman who never uses guns. Cap was trained as a soldier and that means to defend your country and if necessary to kill to achieve that end. Like every good soldier he tries to avoid it if possible but he doesn´t hesitate to do it to save lives. As a soldier he tries to make the right decisions, the tough choices and takes responsibility for it. Being a soldier doesn´t mean to blindly follow orders without thinking. Anyone who has served in the military knows that it sometimes is the duty or better the obligation of a soldier to not follow orders or to ignore them. Sometimes you even have to refuse them. But the idea seems to be deep rooted that if you receive orders that means you follow them blindly.

Let´s return to the storyline of John Ney Rieber. Many found the first issue distasteful because it covered the topic of September 11th. I would find it distasteful if this topic in particular were not covered in comics. Should comic professionals carry on like nothing happened ? Like it didn´t happen ? And who better to talk about it than an icon like Captain America ? Okay. There are people who say that comics should not have politic content. And without social or ideological commentaries. And even better without any signs of the personal beliefs of the creators. Sorry, but which comic should meet these criteria ? That doesn´t work on such titles like Mickey Mouse or Archie.

Comics have messages. Good triumphs over evil and crime does not pay. The good guy who makes an effort is rewarded and the unsocial guy who takes the fast and easy road gets his just punishment. A peaceful solution is preferably to a violent one. If many band together they can achieve things they can´t achieve alone. Comics are personal because they are made by persons. That´s why you read comics. Especially where someone like Captain America is concerned you can learn a lot about the writer by looking how Cap is written. Which character traits are emphasized and which parts of the personality are in the background ? Every hero has his own topic and every writer interprets it in his own way.

And the topic of Captain America is America. The land, the word, the ideal. America, democracy, history and liberty - that´s what he´s about. He represents, confronts and poses questions. A constant dialog between past and present, between idea and reality. Like an onion revealing layer after layer he has a different meaning in every new context. And that´s why he is Marvel´s most important hero.

I don´t think much has changed since I wrote this. By the way for anyone who is interested in the reactions at the time they were exactly like I predicted in my column and the argumentation was the same I argued against in this text. Sometimes it just sucks to be right.

All right, if you have just reached this point I want to congratulate you for reading this long post without getting bored. If you are reading this for the first time I hope it was entertaining and for those re - reading it, I hope it brought back some memories or maybe even made you see things different now. There are still a few things that haven´t changed as you can see by the media coverage of the CAPTAIN AMERICA movie in the german press but other things have improved a great deal as there are much more german comic readers who read Captain America and even have him as their favorite character.

Tomorrow I will be posting the german version and I guess that´s when my german readership will take a drastic downward spiral. As you have now read 80 percent of my big Captain America post you may get an idea why I felt the need to split it into shorter posts.

Today´s clip is from the CAPTAIN AMERICA tv series with Cap and his bike. Man, Cap just has to have a bike.

The worst part of the show was his costume ( although it´s better than Rob Liefeld´s costume ) and I have no idea why they changed it. It´s funny how Cap is so excited about tripping the guards that he almost forgets that he wanted to grill the science guy. Thank god Cap never looses track of the important things : " The girls. Where are they ? "

Where indeed.

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