Writer Joe Simon conceived the idea for Captain America, which was refined by his partner, artist Jack Kirby, in 1941. Captain America was a consciously political creation. Simon and Kirby were morally repulsed by the actions of Nazi Germany in the years leading up to the United States' involvement in World War II and felt war was inevitable. Simon later said, "The opponents to the war were all quite well organized. We wanted to have our say too."
During the Bronze Age, Captain America fought one of the three worst presidents of the 1970s, Richard Nixon:
But the most famous Nixon story of all time, and one of the most infamous storylines in Marvel history, has to be the Secret Empire story that ran from Captain America #169-176. In events specifically designed to parallel Watergate, Captain America uncovers a vast conspiracy by a shadowy organization called the Secret Empire. Following the paper trail, he discovers that this plot to covertly control America leads right into the White House itself and in the #175 he is shocked to find that the leader of the Secret Empire is none other than President Richard Nixon.In the mid-aughts, Captain America fought against the US government's efforts to force super heroes to register with the government, and was assassinated for his trouble:
The registration act polarized the superhero community. Captain America (whose true identity was Steve Rogers) considered the legislation an erosion of civil liberties; Iron Man, on the other side, believed that training heroes as the military, firefighters or the police are trained would only benefit society. When the factions came to blows and caused more destruction, Captain America chose to fight his battle in court.(The important information above was taken from the New York Times, by the way.)
But in the current issue of his title, Captain America takes bullets in the shoulder and stomach while on the courthouse steps.
Except, um, it turns out that Captain America wasn't really assassinated. The bullet froze him in time, or something like that. This of course is an oblique reference to the fact that Captain America was frozen in a block of ice in the ocean between WWII and his revival in the fourth issue of the Avengers in 1964. And of course it makes just as much sense now as it did then.
The point is, it's not unprecedented for Captain America to tackle political issues in comic books. There are dozens of other examples I am too lazy and too disinterested to list here. I need to get to the Tea Partiers.
Apparently, in the current issue of Captain America (#602!), that super hero and his partner, The Falcon, go after a group that seems modeled after Tea Party protesters.
Issue 602 of the comic features Captain America investigating a right-wing anti-government militia group called "the Watchdogs". Hoping to infiltrate the group, Captain America and his African-American sidekick The Falcon observe an anti-tax protest from a rooftop. The protestors depicted are all white and carry signs adorned with slogans almost identical to those seen today in Tea Party rallies like "tea bag libs before they tea bag you" and "stop the socialists."
The clear implicit attack on the Tea Party Movement was first noticed by Publius' Forum's Warner Todd Huston. When a minor uproar ensued, Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Joe Quesada spoke to Comic Book Resources and defended the issue while apologizing for the panel that seemed to tie real-life Tea Party protesters to the fictional group depicted in the book.Creative people -- and, yes, the people who make comic books are creative people -- get inspiration from everywhere. Why not use the tea party movement as a jumping-off point for a piece of fiction? But the idea that there was "zero discussion to include a group that looked like a Tea Party demonstration" is completely disingenuous. This is Captain America, one of the most famous super heroes in comics. Soon to be the star of his own movie franchise. Do you think Marvel comics isn't keeping a tight rein on everything related to this guy?
Saying that he could "absolutely see how some people are upset about this," Quesada said that there was "zero discussion to include a group that looked like a Tea Party demonstration," adding, "There was no thought that it represented a particular group."
I've had only a bit of experience in the comic book world, and I can tell you that this just does not ring true at all:
Quesada then went on to say that Marvel would "apologize for and own up to" a series of "stupid mistakes" that led to them "accidentally identifying" one of the members of the protest group "as being a part of the Tea Party instead of a generic protest group." He explained that they were on deadline to get the issue to the printer for publication, and in the course of sending it off it was noticed that the signs in the scene contained no words or phrases. He said the editor then asked the letterer to "fudge in some quick signs" and that in the "rush to get the book out of the door," the letterer "looked on the net and started pulling slogans" from signs captured in photographs at Tea Party protests in order to make them appear "believable."No way does this happen -- not with Captain America, anyway. They knew exactly what they were doing. They sent the book to the printer and published what they wanted to publish. It's not only the writer, artist, letterer, and editor who check on this stuff. There are marketing people in there, too. Marvel makes comic books and movies. They were just sold to Disney. They knew what they were doing.
And don't forget that Marvel is the company that produced a comic book in which Spider-Man met Barack Obama:
tea party protesters tend not to like president Obama's economic policies. Some of them think Obama might not have been born in America. So, Marvel likes Obama and doesn't like the tea partiers. That's fine -- what does anyone care? If they don't like it, they don't have to buy their comics.
But come on, own up to it. Don't come up with some obvious lie about how no one was paying attention to what was going on in the monthly comic of one of your most valuable properties and it somehow sneaked out the door without anyone knowing. It makes you look bad.
At least hide behind the First Amendment, for crying out loud.
There was something else at work here. Marvel was going for publicity, which they got, and a new collector's item:
Ed Brubaker, the writer of the controversial Captain America story, told Fox News that any and all references to "tea bag" will be removed from all future editions of Marvel Comics.Which means you need to run out and get your copy of Captain America #602, first print, original "tea bag" edition right now, before it's all sold out and the comic book shops are charging outlandish prices for this ultra rare issue.
Anyway, I think the really amazing part of this story is that there are actually people out there who are still reading comic books. I thought we'd all moved on to video games.
Captain America punches Hitler in the face pic source.
Captain America tea party protest pages pic source.
Spider-Man and Obama fist bump pic source.