Happy Fourth of July from the Hero Complex

July 04, 2009 | 1:45 p.m.

Captain America Bicentennial Battles

 

Here’s one from the vault, one of my favorite comic books as a kid. It’s from 1976 (duh) and it’s Jack Kirby’s trippy tale of Cap jumping through time to connect with the spirit of the nation. He meets Ben Franklin and Betsy Ross (they design the American flag based on the strange visitor’s garish costume), bumps into his deceased sidekick Bucky, spars with John L. Sullivan, gives a beat-down to some slavery-era bounty hunters and finds himself as an American solider in a disturbing future war on the moon.

So, you know, it’s pretty much your average day for a Marvel Comics hero.

The book is sooooo over the top with its pumped-up patriotism. There’s also a pinup gallery in the back with the hero in different historical garbs: “Colonial Cap,” “Western Cap” and “Space-Age Cap”). Silly? Oh sure. Do I adore it? Yes and without reservation.

The star-spangled hero gives a speech at the end (did you have any doubt?) while surrounded by kids of every race, creed and color, all of them beaming like the insanely happy dolls at Disney’s It’s a Small World ride. Here’s what he says: “That’s America! A place of stubborn confidence — where both young and old can hope and dream and wade through disappointment, despair and the crunch of events — with the chance of making life meaningful!”

Well there you have it. Keep wading everybody. And if you’re playing with fireworks today, please be careful; as I always tell my kids, you want to be Captain America on the Fourth of July, not the Human Torch . . . .

– Geoff Boucher

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