Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How Captain America Helped Make Me Who I Am

I still remember my first Captain America comic book. I don't remember which issue it was or the cover and I have tried in vain to find it again online, (I'm sure a major Cap buff will easily be able to tell me-but I couldn't find the issue)  but the real point is the story moved me, it informed me and granted a portion of my hunger for knowledge and sense of true history.

Yes, I got all that from a comic book.

I was likely under ten years old, I collected the bronze age Spider-Man, Hulk, Star Wars and was just starting out with G.I.JOE. I knew who Captain America was but didn't regularly read him. I have always been fascinated with history so I liked that this was another WW2 comic along with Sgt. Rock and the Haunted Tank type others.

I recall Bucky, who would eventually become the butt of every Wizard magazine joke, looking for a heart doctor to save someone? Maybe it was even Cap, I'm not sure. Bucky was told that nobody at this hospital in LA? was skilled enough to help but a nurse took Bucky aside and whispered that there was a Doctor who could do this surgery BUT he was in a Japanese Internment camp!

This floored me when I was under 10, we did that? I did the research - back then it all had to be done in a library - and LO we did do that!

That began a great trip for me on how comics while fantasy and science fiction can inform us of things and give reflection on human nature, because it is still written by people who have the same feelings good bad and ugly that we all have. It showed that those first Dr.'s Bucky talked to were too bigoted to help or even think that that Japanese Dr. could be an option, but that nurse knew and said it! And Bucky went to the camp (which was shown perfectly squalid) and was able to get that Dr. to help whomever it was.

I didn't regularly follow up on that storyline (and that's not the truly important thing, what is-is that it has always stuck with me, it opened a paradigm in a boy under 10 to think about more answers outside the usual paradigm.

Going along that line, I have nothing but great things to say about Captain America: The Winter Soldier, great film and great messages that also show a dark side and lead you down that rabbit hole to think about What have we done and what will we do when faced with it. I think that through great fiction we are seeing things as they really are.


Keith West said...

I agree, this movie had quite a bit of depth to it.

David J. West said...

Thanks Keith

Paul R. McNamee said...

I had a Captain America comic as a kid. It was a modern era story with the Falcon.

I remember a lot about it.

1.) I got it at the airport. We had dropped my Dad off for a business trip.

2.) I read it in the car on the way home.

3.) I got carsick. I shouldn't have been reading in the moving car.

4.) The baddie was the Red Skull, and he managed to assassinate someone in a locked room, in a lighthouse, right under everyone's noses.

5.) Stan Lee signed off with his usual "NUFF SAID!"

5a.) I was a literate kid. I spent YEARS trying to figure out who Nuff was, and what the heck he had said.

5.b) Years later than that, I figured out it really meant "'nough said." (enough said)

6.) I never read the resolution of the cliffhanger. I am eagerly awaiting the issue and the following issue to get digitized and available on Comixology. I just looked it up , and it was issue #177. They are in the 160s now.

David J. West said...

Very cool Paul. I tried for quite awhile to find which comic it was I was thinking of but alas no luck.

Paul R. McNamee said...

You are apparently looking for "The Invaders", David.

Invaders 22-34


David J. West said...

Thanks Paul, I thought it might be the Invaders but could never find good images.

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm sure I would have liked Cap but I didn't have much exposure to him. There were few comics available in my home town when I was a teenager. Cap America wasn't very common, although I knew who he was.

David J. West said...

I hear ya Charles, its funny that as much as that comic changed my paradigm, I never really followed it afterward.

Paul R. McNamee said...

Huzzah! They digitized the(my) issue this week!


(great cover, too)

David J. West said...

Thanks Paul!

Graham Bradley said...

Great writeup. I seem to remember having read a Cap comic when I was a kid (my parents never bought us comics, not that we "weren't allowed", it just didn't happen) but it didn't leave that kind of impression on me. Later in life when politics mattered, and I realized that the comics mirrored the seriousness of current events, I took more interest in him.

Then the film ended up being such a perfect zeitgeist.

David J. West said...

Right on, thanks Graham