Why are the Washington Times, Fox News and generally most right-wing bloggers losing their minds over the all-new, all-different Captain America comic series?
Because unlike his predecessor Steve Rogers, the new Captain America—former Falcon Sam Wilson—is speaking out about the troubles in America. He’s vocal and taking action against racism, immigration, even freedom of information hackers. The first two issues of the relaunched comic see Sam Wilson go to the Mexican border and protect illegal immigrants from a murderous white supremacist group.
Conservative blogger Allen West characterized that story as “New black Captain America battles white conservatives.” Yeah, he went there. And so did a lot of other conservatives. They are pitching outrage over Cap’s liberalism, anti-government stance and even his race.
Thing is, this isn’t the first time someone besides Steve Rogers took up the shield as Captain America—in comics continuity the first Cap was in fact black, the result of Tuskegee-esque experiments in developing the super-soldier serum back in the 40s.
More to the point, this is not the first time the comic dealt with a troubled America. Throughout the late 60s and 70s, Steve Rogers struggled with the problems of race, class struggle and the anti-war movement. In the culmination of a long 70s story arc, the leader of the Secret Empire (a war-profiteering, Ku Klux Klan-type group masterminding the U.S. government) was revealed to be then-president Richard Nixon. In the 80s, the U.S. government stripped Steve Rogers of the uniform because he wasn’t “following orders.” And certainly the cinematic version Captain America stands against the dangers of nationalism where that patriotism can threaten both humanity and freedom.
While series writer Nick Spencer is unapologetically liberal in his own views, there isn’t as much of a break between the old and new Captain America on the issues in our country as some believe; only in how they decided to address those issues. As Sam Wilson describes it, “Steve believes that America will find a way to do what’s right. I can only hope they will.”