Badass Week: Independence Day With Captain America
Badass Week slams into its third installment, just in time for America's birthday!
And what better way to celebrate Independence Day--other than by exercising your right to vote in the ISB's Toughest Man In Comics competition--than with a look at the Star-Spangled Avenger himself, Captain America.
In the very first image the public ever got of Captain America, he is punching Adolf Hitler in the face, and as far as badass moments go, that's pretty hard to top--especially considering that this was eight months before the United States officially entered World War II. It's one of the most powerful images in comics history, and for good reason:
Punching Hitler in the face never gets old.
But as much as this may surprise you, most of my favorite instances of Captain America being a total and complete badass have nothing to do with punching. To me, Cap captures the spirit of America--or at least, the ideal of America--better than any other character in comics, and that spirit is defiance.
We are, after all, a country that was forged by a small group of guys who got together and decided that they'd had enough of being ruled by a man they saw as a mad tyrant and resolved to stand together and face down the most powerful Empire in the world. And seriously, regardless of your political views or nationality, that's pretty awesome.
Plus, our National Anthem has the words "rockets" and "bombs" in it, and that's pretty exciting.
But anyway, that's what I like about Steve Rogers: That he felt so strongly about standing up against tyranny and injustice that he didn't just want to fight the Nazis, he was willing to undergo an untested and potentially lethal process just to have his chance to fight for what he thought was right, whether it was against Adolf Hitler, or, oh, I don't know...
How about Thanos of Titan?
Jim Starlin and Ron Lim's Infinity Gauntlet is, hands down, the best Marvel "event" comic. And in #4, the shit hits the fan, bigtime. Thanos, after killing half the universe and acquiring capital-G Godlike power, decides to use a mere fraction of it to fight the Marvel Super-Heroes.
And things don't exactly go too well for the good guys.
By the end of it, Captain America is the only one left standing and he's just seen--in order--She-Hulk and Namor dissolved; Dr. Doom incinerated; Wolverine reduced to a quivering blob of agony-wracked flesh; the Scarlet Witch destroyed, Cyclops suffocated; the Vision's heart ripped out; Cloak ripped apart from the inside; Drax the Destroyer and Firelord eaten by dinosaurs; Iron Man decapitated; Spider-Man blugeoned to death with a rock; Thor, God of Thunder, turned to glass and shattered, and various other horrific deaths. Thanos has won. All in the span of like five minutes.
So what does Cap do?
He walks up... and breaks it down.
That, my friends, is defiance.
And it's on a cosmic scale, too, but for my money, there's a moment every bit as good that takes place right in Avengers Mansion, from the classic Roger Stern/John Buscema story in Avengers #273-277. It is my all-time favorite Avengers story, and seriously: if you have not read it, you need to.
Essentially, it's exactly what it sounds like: The Masters of Evil bust in and tear ass all over the mansion, keeping heavy hitters like Thor and Hercules occupied while they nearly destroy the Avengers in their own home. And at the center of it all are Baron Zemo and Captain America.
Zemo's got Cap held hostage, forcing him to watch as Mr. Hyde tortures Jarvis, destroys the original shield he carried through World War II, and--in one of the most heartbreaking moments of Marvel history, rips up the only photograph Steve has of his mother. And then he asks what Cap, beaten and tied up, is going to do about it.
Enter the four most badass words Roger Stern ever wrote:
In the very next panel, Zemo leaves the room as quickly as possible.
And just for the record? This one ends up in a lot of punching.
Ahh, that's the stuff.
I don't think it's exaggerating at all when I say that the late, great Mark Gruenwald wrote the craziest Captain America stories since Jack Kirby had him battle a seven foot tall woman named Tinkerbelle in a roller derby to get his shield back from 20th-century British Loyalists (#196, for those of you keeping score). Take, for instance, Captain America #357, where Cap, regressed to a teenager (because shut up, that's why) is in iminent danger of being beaten to death by a group of female assassins called the Sisters of Sin.
They can't decide who gets to kill them, so they end up all jumping on him at once, but when the smoke clears, they're all punched out, and Cap... well, see for yourself.
Today's Dubious Moral: Punching women makes you a man!
More Independence Day Tomfoolery:
| Independence Day 2005: The Presitron |