3:09pm PT by Graeme McMillan
No Matter Who You Voted For, There’s a Captain America For You
Next week sees the release of the first issue of Marvel Entertainment's All-New Captain America, in which Sam Wilson becomes the ninth man to wear the red, white and blue suit and become America’s most patriotic hero. The timing of the release, coming so close to this week’s midterm elections, is a reminder that — no matter what your political affiliations — there’s a Captain America for you. Even if you’re someone who wants to violently overthrow the government for racist reasons. Here’s a quick guide to finding the Cap that mostly closely resembles your worldview.
First Appeared as Cap: Captain America Comics No. 1 (1941)
Everyone knows Steve Rogers’ story — a poor, scrawny kid from the streets given super powers to defend his country against the Nazis who’s never stopped standing up for the powerless. Thanks to being frozen in ice, he’s still around today, fighting the good fight.
Where Is He Now? The Super-Soldier Serum having worm off, Steve is now a frail old man offering advice and counsel to the current Captain America.
Where Is He On The Political Spectrum? Traditionally portrayed as a political progressive, he’s (literally) fought against bigotry and prejudice for his entire career.
First Appeared as Cap: Captain America Comics No. 49 (1945)
Originally known as “The Spirit of ’76,” Nasland was another Nazi-punching superhero during World War II who was handpicked by President Harry S. Truman to replace Steve Rogers after his mysterious disappearance before the end of the war.
Where Is He Now? Nasland’s career as Captain America lasted just under a year, with him dying at the hands of a robot trying to assassinate a young John F. Kennedy. No, I’m really not making that up.
Where Is He On The Political Spectrum? Nasland wasn’t really around long enough to express a political opinion, but purely based on having called himself “The Spirit of ’76,” I’m going to suggest that he might have found the Tea Party to be worthy of some investigation.
First Appeared: Captain America Comics No. 59 (1946)
A third WWII-era costumed hero, Mace’s patriot fervor was so strong that it gave him his name: The Patriot. It was as the Patriot that he fought alongside the second Cap, taking on the role of Captain America after witnessing his death. He served as Cap through 1950, then eventually retired from crime fighting to return to his original career as a newspaper reporter.
Where Is He Now? Mace died of cancer at an advanced age, with the returned Steve Rogers by his bedside.
Where Is He On The Political Spectrum? Beyond his strong patriotic feelings, Mace was oddly apolitical. He was, of course, a member of the media in the 1950s, so let’s consider him a founding member of the liberal elite until proven otherwise.
First Appeared as Cap: Young Men Vol. 2 No. 24 (1953)
Easily the most outrageous replacement Captain America, Burnside was so obsessed with the original Cap that he not only legally changed his name to Steve Rogers, but also underwent surgery to look more like him. Unfortunately, his attempt to repeat the formula that gave the original Captain America his powers went so wrong that it fueled his latent bigotry, creating a racist Captain America who looked just like the original.
Where Is He Now? Currently undergoing government-sponsored rehabilitation following his most recent capture.
Where Is He On The Political Spectrum? In later years, Burnside decided that the government was no longer truly serving the American people and decided to try and overthrow it for everyone’s good — if, by everyone, you mean “racist white Americans.” So, you know, there’s that.
First Appeared as Cap: Captain America Vol. 1 No. 178 (1974)
One of three short-lived Captain Americas who took up the star-spangled uniform following Steve Rogers’ Watergate-inspired retirement, Russo was a professional baseball player at the top of his game who wanted more — like the thrill (and idolization) of being America’s favorite superhero.
Where Is He Now? Gave up after breaking his arm during a failed attempt to swing into action. “Why in blazes didn’t I practice before I jumped off that roof?” he said to himself.
Where Is He On The Political Spectrum? From his few appearances, Russo was clearly a believer in Ayn Rand-style individualism, believing in his own exceptionalism until he collided with a wall.
First Appeared as Cap: Captain America Vol. 1 No. 179 (1974)
The leader of a biker gang who thought it’s be fun to play hero, Scar was under no illusions about his suitability to fill the original Cap’s bright-red boots. “I been kinda leary about trottin’ my costumed bod down to the cops to show ‘em who they got working with ‘em now,” he monologued during his sole appearance in costume. “They might just put me away for disrespectin’ the flag.”
Where Is He Now? Gave up after hurting being beaten up by a gang of muggers. “Now there’s six of ‘em — an’ I aint’ even brung my tire iron!” he realized before his beating.
Where Is He On The Political Spectrum? There is almost no way that Turpin had any strong political opinion beyond “Which one of these guys will bother me less?” Let’s mark him down as a libertarian, then.
First Appeared as Cap: Captain America Vol. 1 No. 180 (1974)
A well-meaning kid from the streets who took on the mantle of Captain America during Steve Rogers’ temporary retirement, Roscoe’s heart was in the right place even if he didn’t have the acrobatic skills or confidence of the original Cap.
Where Is He Now? Murdered by the Red Skull, it was Roscoe’s death that caused Rogers to become Captain America once again.
Where Is He On The Political Spectrum? From what little we saw of Roscoe, he seemed eager to believe the best in everyone. He is likely a floating voter, waiting to hear the best of each side’s argument before making up his own mind.
First Appeared as Cap: Captain America Vol. 5 No. 34 (2008)
Following Steve Rogers’ assumed death — he was actually traveling through time, because comics — Bucky Barnes, AKA the Winter Soldier, stepped into the role of Cap for a period, teaming with the Black Widow and the Falcon to track down Rogers’ “murderers” and even carrying on after Rogers’ return for a period, while his former mentor got to work rebuilding SHIELD.
Where Is He Now? These days, Bucky is in the middle of space trying to keep the Earth safe from extra-terrestrial threats in the current Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier series.
Where Is He On The Political Spectrum? Given his history (Kept in cryo-stasis for decades, brainwashed to be an assassin and out-of-touch with the modern world), you could be forgiven for thinking that politics is the last thing on Bucky’s mind. From his run ins with William Burnside, however, we do know that he’s not down with that agenda, and seems to run more in step with Steve Rogers’ progressive tendencies — which makes sense, given that he’s now hanging out in space with all kinds of freaky-deaky aliens.
First Appeared as Cap: Captain America Vol. 7 No. 25 (2014) For years, Wilson was the high-flying Falcon, social worker and part-time superhero (Not to mention occasional partner to more than one Captain America). That’s no longer the case, as he’s recently taken on the position of Captain America following Steve Rogers’ latest retirement. Yes, this means that Captain America has finally properly earned his long-standing name “wing head.”
Where Is He Now? As of next week, you’ll be able to follow his adventures in Marvel’s new All-New Captain America comic book series.
Where Is He On The Political Spectrum? Firmly leftwing, with a background in social organizing and grassroots efforts, Wilson is almost certainly a character who would be disappointed that the current administration hasn’t pushed its agenda more strongly.