My schedule has been pretty hectic for a lot of March. I have been housesitting, looking after my dog, and I just quit my other job. At the moment I am technically employed, but that does not change the fact I need another job. For these reasons I have been absent on the blog and for that I apologize. I hope to review Trainspotting 2 if it comes out to a theater near me and I patiently await Ghost in the Shell. In the meantime and because I am skipping Power Rangers, (I’m sorry, but it just looks terrible) let us talk about Sam Wilson.
If you are an avid reader of my work (I hope), you probably notice I mention the name Nick Spencer in a negative light quite a lot. He is a comic book writer for Marvel and one of the many hacks responsible for the politicization of the medium. It is no surprise he was an up incoming “progressive” politician, the same people who see the Working Class as racist, misogynistic, homophobic and Islamophoic (yeah, that’s definitely a thing that’s real). And Spencer is in charge of not one, but two Captain America books.
Reading his work it is easy to spot the man’s backwards ideology. He made Red Skull a President Trump parallel with dialog plagiarized from MSNBC sound bites. The villainous Americops are paramilitary policemen that target people of color. Steve Rogers was turned into an Agent of Hydra (also Nazis, but not really according to pre-MCU comics), and the new Captain America, Sam Wilson, a diehard Liberal martyr. Most of this nonsense can be found in the long, droning speech bubbles and thought boxes that cover each panel. Spencer’s work is so notoriously idiotic you can find scans of choice pages around the Internet.
The man’s politics are good enough a reason to ignore his books, but for me it comes down to his gross misunderstanding of his assigned character. Rogers being a part of Hydra I can forgive being the result of some Cosmic Cube stuff. My concern is the mantel of Captain America and Sam Wilson as its bearer. And no, it is not because he is black.
My issue is Spencer has no idea what Cap is, what he has always been. I have no clue why the man was put in charge of the character given his utter ignorance. To Spencer, Cap is a tool of the US government, an apostle of the status quo whose sole allegiance is to the State. In one issue he was even referred to as “Captain Establishment.”
The first couple issues of the Wilson arc were spent setting up the titular new Cap as a man of the people, making him a free agent reliant on crowd funding. This was meant to distance the character from this idea that the original Cap was a pawn of the government. In Wilson’s dialog and thoughts he questions if Rogers actually represented America. He feels being one with the people makes him a better Cap, hence the Liberal rhetoric.
That is all well and good, but it does not change the irrefutable fact that never, in his nigh 80-year existence, was Cap ever a part of the establishment. To think he would adhere to the status quo proves Spencer has never read a Cap book in his life. He spits in the face of Jack Kirby and Joe Simon with such detritus. It is clear to me that the man had an agenda and did not care what he got wrong.
Where DC characters are mythological figures, Marvel’s Pantheon is symbolic. Punisher is death, Daredevil justice, and Iron Man is technology. Captain America is symbolic of liberty in its purest form. He is the US Constitution brought to life, the walking, talking manifestation of the Founding Fathers’ ideals. He does not exist for the American government, but what America means. Cap is truth, justice, and freedom rendered flesh and does not represent a minority or a majority group.
You can find plenty of evidence in comics of his anti-establishment underpinnings. He gave up the shield when he discovered Nixon was the Hate Monger. He was the first to oppose the Superhero Registration Act in the first Civil War arc. He later turned himself in when he found all the fighting caused more harm than good. In Born Again, Cap defied the government by putting down Nuke, a psychotic super soldier created by the Pentagon to be a merciless killing machine.
You do not have to read too much into the guy to realize how little he cares for the establishment. Even as a product of the Military Industrial Complex he has never willingly given in to bureaucracy and petty partisan bullshit. With a shield, Cap makes a point that he is trying to fix the world, not destroy it. He also sat out of Vietnam, but I doubt it would have made a difference. Like Columbia, he is the personification of America and what it means to be free, to be in total control of your destiny.
Nick Spencer does not think so. The self-loathing Liberal pig is one of thousands of swine that see America as the ultimate oppressor, the enemy of the world that must be brought to heel for all the bad things it has done… a century-and-a-half ago. To Spencer and his ilk, Captain America represents the very worst of ideals: Patriarchy, white supremacy, and capitalism.
It was only right that he would make Sam Wilson the complete opposite, a man of the people devoted to the community. However, by giving Cap a “side” to fight for in opposition to another “side,” Spencer has made Cap into an establishment character. Like your average socialist system, Wilson is a paradox, a never-ending contradiction that supports a status quo while claiming to upend it. It is like Democrats and Republicans: no matter which one you pick, you are still a part of the government and beholden to the system you mean to change. Wilson just traded in arguably Centrist ideals for those of the Left, which argues for more establishment control, something the original Cap would have fought against.
It is bad enough that Spencer does not understand Captain America. That alone makes him unqualified, but I think he missed a huge opportunity with Wilson. Furthermore, using SJW logic (which is a titanic misnomer), he is also unqualified to write a character that is black because he is white. I have a feeling he shames himself and apologizes to no one for using his genetic privilege to take a job meant for a person of color. It is almost as if he has a double standard, falling perfectly in lock step with the common SJW practice of Doublethink.
Big Brother would be proud.
Obviously the history of black people in America is tumultuous. Slavery, Jim Crow, and the Klan are pretty bad to say the least. It is important for an outsider to understand the situation in as clear a light a possible without bias. I will never fully get what it is like to be black, but Spencer certainly thinks he does. He thinks because they are not white, black people are oppressed, and require liberation. Intersectionality is the name of the game where all non-white, non-male, non-hetero people are victims of the Patriarchy who must stick together and work as a community. Spencer sees black people through a Liberal ideological lens, a group that needs help, and is not in control of their own destiny.
Again, we are talking about a pasty white dude.
This brings to mind what could have been done with Wilson as Cap. Given our history with black people, what would it mean for Wilson to be the embodiment of America? Does he follow in Roger’s footsteps and continue his good work or supplement the symbolism with his own experiences? An American is an American, but every culture has a their own interpretation of being an American.
In the end, all any outsider can do is pretend to get it. I will never understand what it is like being Latino or Asian in America, but if I had to write about it, I would not pick one experience over another. Going the opposite route, you are basically perpetuating a stereotype based on a minority of experiences. You would be better off ignoring such a detail and writing the character as a character. Robert Heinlein wrote Johnny Rico as Johnny Rico and not as a Filipino named Johnny Rico. Then again, I doubt Spencer is enlightened enough to ignore skin color.
Wilson as Cap presented an opportunity to explore being black in America. He would have to question if he is a part of the image usually associated with whites or that of blacks. Is there even a difference or does he have the right to change the meaning behind Captain America? He could be the egalitarian Martin Luther King or the militant Malcolm X. At the end of the day, it should not matter because he is supposed to be a symbol, but for a story that requires conflict, Wilson trying to figure out what it means to be America and black is interesting. I would have read that book and stuck with it, unless the art sucked.
The politicization of Marvel Comics has meant the death of many a story I used to enjoy. Beloved characters have become bogged down in nonsense and the mouthpieces of writers that have no right to be writers. I was interested to see what would become of Sam Wilson as Captain America, but Nick Spencer could not keep his Liberal rhetoric to himself. Cap was my fist favorite superhero and I can only hope Punisher puts him out of his misery before it is too late.