Sunday, August 14, 2011

Captain America post intro - part 1

Since the new CAPTAIN AMERICA movie is being shown in american cinemas right now and is going to also be in german movie theaters on Thursday I thought about writing something about it.

Being a lazy kind of guy I realized I already did a big post that sums up my thoughts on the character. Longtime readers may remember MY BIG CAPTAIN AMERICA POST and all newbies may have seen it included in the list of posts you are directed to when following the " new to the blog ? " link. It´s everything I have to say about Captain America ( the newest happenings not included ) and it´s in english with the original german text included. There´s just one problem with it.

When I say MY BIG CAPTAIN AMERICA POST I really mean it because this sucker takes one hell of a time to read. I don´t know how many of my readers / newbies really check out the links or read the posts they direct you too but for ages I wanted to split the post into various posts so it´s easier to read. So far I´ve always put it off but now it´s finally time to get to it once and for all and when it´s all finished I can change it in the link section.

To show you how long the post really is : this here is just the first part of the intro. Here are the links for part 2 and part 3 and here´s the link for the main post ( german version ).

So, I wrote the original text which is the bulk of the big Captain America post in 2003 and put it on the blog in 2007 for which I wrote a special introduction of which this is the first part. At that time Ed Brubaker had just started his run on Captain America and I already predicted this was going to be called one - if not THE - definite runs on Captain America. Really. You can look it up. Another funny thing is that this part covers the storyline when somebody else wore the mantle of Captain America.

Now is it just me or was every good storyline that´s successful now already done in the 80s ? Anyway, let´s get started :

Originally written on Wednesday, May the 16th, 2007

Because of recent events on the german messageboards I decided to take a brake from my reports of my first spanish comic convention ( and because I had a little case of writers block ) and write about my take on Captain America.

The reason why Captain America is discussed so intense on the german message boards right now is on one side the release of the Marvel Monster from PANINI with the first story of the Ed Brubaker run on Captain America. So far most people who read it were absolutely blown away, most of them commenting that they never saw Captain America as such a multilayered superhero and always had him pegged for nothing more than a propaganda machine. The other thing is that with the first three issues of CIVIL WAR also edited in german there is this whole discussion about " Whose side are you on ? " in full effect and a lot of people have discovered that Captain America is not the dull, one - sided character they thought he was. A lot of people experience that they side with a superhero they always found lacking personality and intelligence.

While I was participating in the discussion and even went so far as to search for pictures of the covers of individual issues to show which issues I was talking about and posting the first part of my column that was about Captain America. A few years ago the german comicsite COMICGATE was looking for writers to provide content and I wrote what was supposed to be the first of many installments in a new column. But my second essay got somehow lost and I never wrote a third. All this material about Captain America that I suddenly had in my hands made me think that maybe now would be a good time to post it in my own blog. Even though my column was written in 2003 some parts are still true. But more about that when we get to that part. Now I´m not going to talk about the events at the end and after CIVIL WAR. There´s still plenty of time when I write my big wrap up post about CIVIL WAR ( in two or three years ) to talk about the INITIATIVE. Let´s just say that in the USA there has also been a lot of discussion and remembrance where Steve Rogers is concerned and leave it at that.

So maybe this post is also interesting for my readers overseas and tells what I like to call " My Captain America Story " which is kind of like MY X - MEN STORY . This starts really early in my comic reading career. Which of course means the german comics of Williams Verlag which was the publisher that edited Marvel Comics in Germany when I was still a little kid reading my first comics.

At that time that was Spider - Man ( die erstaunliche Spinne ), Thor ( der mächtige Thor ) and Avengers ( die ruhmreichen Rächer ) where Cap was at first an overwhelmed member and later on a reluctant team leader who over a period of time evolved into the best leader.

Now while I found this whole aspect of a man out of his time very interesting I never sought out Captain America´s own book. Which might have something to do with the fact that it wasn´t edited in Germany. At that time my english was not very good and I had to take what was available in Germany. I think the first issues of Captain America´s own series that I got to read was a french reprint with Captain America fighting the statue of Abraham Lincoln on the cover.

Who knew they had Captain America comics in France ? I was there during my school days as part of an student exchange but since the guy who was my exchange partner was only interested in soccer I was mostly spending my free time trying to find some interesting comics. The Captain America comic was from his whole soul searching period where he was trying to find out more about his past and his family. But since I never got any of the following issues they were quickly forgotten.

The next time I encountered Captain America ( besides in the Avengers ) was in Spain. The same comic company that published Iron Man and other books like SHANG CHI MASTER OF KUNG FU or IRON FIST.

One of the issues was the one with Scarecrow and the others were of the DEATHLOK story. I only managed to find some scattered issues of Mike Zeck´s stint on the series.

Now in my opinion Mike Zeck is one of the All Time Greatest Comic Book Artists. His work on Shang Chi and Captain America is just absolutely brilliant. He doesn´t do much work anymore and I think the comic landscape is a little bleaker for it. On my list of artists who should do more work and who I really miss he´s in the top ten.

Now I never had many of the Mike Zeck issues and I sure whish Marvel would put those issues into an ESSENTIAL. The only version I have of the issues are the ones which were edited many years later in Germany in the Condor poket books where they reduced the text from two sentences to two words. And the reprint of the DEATHLOK story I bought a few years back.

The next step in my comic reading career came when I was at the german railway company DEUTSCHE BUNDESBAHN becoming a car mechanic ( yes, they had cars too and busses ). Not because the job was my dream job but because it took place in Stuttgart and since I had a subway ticket I could go to the main station in Stuttgart. There was a newsstand where you could buy american comics and I read Walter Simonson´ THOR, Mike Mignola´s HULK and John Byrne´s FANTASTIC FOUR. Oh, that were the good days. At that time I was desperate for american comics and I bought any I could find. No matter what was inside or how it was drawn. And that´s the only excuse I have for buying CAPTAIN AMERICA 306.

It really looks as bad inside as on the cover and I only remember that the story had something to do with Captain Britain and Mordred. I have managed to forget almost anything about the issue and after years of therapy the nightmares don´t come as frequent. Now while this was in itself bad enough it didn´t scare me off the title completely. I have no idea why. But what followed wasn´t much better.

Okay. Now I bought this comic out of sheer curiosity. I mean what was Daredevil doing in his old uniform ? Why was he built like Hulk and why was he trying to beat up Cap ? And who the hell was Demolition Man ? This comic introduced me to D - Man but otherwise didn´t do much to put Captain America high om my reading priority list. But that all changed with the very next issue I got my hands on.

Captain America 322. The start of a storyline that turned the title into a must - read book for a whole generation and built up the foundation of the character for me. The superhuman rights comission tried to bribe Steve Rogers to take his orders straight from them only to have Steve hand them his uniform and tell them where to stick it. He outright refused to be their lapdog and showed real backbone.

This was crazy ! This was cool ! And it was totally unexpected. For me it presented the character in a whole new light and I started to think more about the character. The unfolding story had me hooked and I couldn´t wait for the next issue. Because now that Steve Rogers had quit there was one question burning in everyone´s mind.

Who was going to be the next Captain America ? At that time I didn´t know it but between the time when Captain America was frozen in a block of ice and when the Avengers finally found him there were two other guys who had played the role of Captain America. And the army being the army they didn´t even consider the possibility that maybe there was more to being Captain America than having the strength, the training and the uniform. So they went looking for a replacement and found an old enemy of Captain America called Super - Patriot of all things ( in Germany often confused with Superman ).

He already had gone toe to toe with Steve Rogers so they thought : why not recruit him ? At least he has a more patriotic attitude and we can whip him in shape. So the new Captain America was Jack Daniels. Or Johnny Walker. Or Jim Beam ? Heck, I can´t remember because he changed his name so often. I only remember it was something alcoholic and it wasn´t Southern Comfort. Although that was not too farfetched. The writer was definitely drinking too much to come up with the names. Or not enough.

They even made one of his old drinking buddies from his last superteam into the new Bucky. The one line I clearly remember ( and my brother will back me up on this ) is when they make fun of the new Bucky : Buck - buck - bucky has chick - chick - chicken legs. Yes, spandex is not for everyone. Anyway, the fact that the black guy was the sidekick and not the hero caused much controversy inside the story and outside.

Adding fuel to the fire was the next issue where Johnny Walker ( I´m going to use one of the many names randomly from now on ) has to go on his first mission. In the last few issues the reader had learned how difficult is was to step into the shoes of Captain America through the training for the new Cap. Instructed by the Taskmaster and going through a grueling training he still didn´t manage to use his shield as efficiently as the old Cap. So still a bit shaky he had to go to a nice little town to go undercover and end a radical rightwing group called THE WATCHDOGS. The only problem was that Jim Beam didn´t find their ideology that dangerous since it was really close to his own thinking. So he hesitated and almost got his new partner lynched by the costumed version of the clan.

While the story unfolded with Steve Rogers adopting the identity of THE CAPTAIN and uncovering a secret conspiracy a new artist took over the title : Kieron Dwyer. He slowly evolved as an artist and storyteller which is something that always appealed to me. In the end Steve squared off against Jim Beam in the big 350th anniversary issue reclaiming the mantle of Captain America.

Jim Beam took the uniform of The Captain but was from this moment on known as the U.S.Agent. Later on Johnny Walker began to exhibit manic tendencies that ranged from stlghtly crazy to outright psichotic. Like the death of Superman many years later this story showed what was unique about Captain America and made me much more interested in the character.

I came to appreciate Steve Rogers not only for being a natural born leader, a seasoned soldier who got his experience fighting in the trenches and one of the best fighters in hand to hand combat. I also began to admire his integrity, his resolve to right the injustices of the world and his absolute resolve to never give up and to keep fighting till the end.

By the way : in the storyline about the new Cap Steve Rogers clashed with Iron Man. At that time it was because the ARMOR WARS but it is interesting how history repeats itself. Maybe they just love to fight.

Iron Man was sporting the red and silver armor which is still the best armor there ever was. It really looked like somebody was inside the armor without it looking to bulky. Heavy but also streamlined. He had a backpack where he could transport stuff and he could attach various techno gadgets. And the best of all were the shoulder pads. Of course this was also the armor he wore the shortest amount of time since it was the best he ever had.

And here I want to end the first part of the intro. In our next part : Capwolf, M.O.D.A.M. and Rob Liefeld´s Captain America.

Today´s clip is a fanmade one using the music of Justice League Unlimited and clips from the first Ultimates animated movie.

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


Anonymous said...

Thanks for using the time and effort to write something so interesting.

SUBZERO said...

You´re welcome. Although I wrote it a long time ago it´s still nice to hear that somebody appreciates the effort.