Captain America Comics as Historically Grounded Cultural Criticism

Thumbnail Image
Issue Date
Deverell, Richard D.
After Joe Simon and Jack Kirby created him in 1941, Captain America served the writers and editors of Timely, then Atlas, and finally Marvel comics as a means to comment upon and critique American culture. In the 1950s, Atlas Comics, wrapped up in the frenzy of McCarthyism and the Red Scare, rebranded Captain America the “Commie Smasher” for a short, and ultimately retconned (negated after the fact), run. Following the character’s second resurgence in the 1960s, Marvel tapped into the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement and wrote the character to be more liberal, discussing issues of race and examining what it meant to be an American. Finally, in the past decade, Ed Brubaker wrote Captain America stories that reflected back on the cultural memory of the Cold War, resurrecting Bucky as a Soviet-brainwashed assassin and introducing a series of ex-KGB characters.
History, English and Film Studies Panel