When Martin Goodman discovered that the Justice League was a big seller, he asked Stan Lee to create a comic with a group of super-heroes: The Fantastic Four. But The Avengers are the real counterpart to the JLA. Just like the JLA, The Avengers featured marquee and secondary characters joined together to form a super-hero group. But things here were different. At the end of the Avengers’ second issue The Hulk leaves. In issue #4, Captain America returns but does not have his own comic. By issue #16, the original members are completely gone. This was so new for me. The Avengers rose to great heights when Roy Thomas and John Buscema took over. It is an incredible feat for one artist to draw all those characters so well.
There is something out of whack about super-hero groups. Superman would probably consider Green Arrow, a liability on mission. Members neither knew each other true identities, of cared to.
The Avengers were different. They showed up in each other’s comic. But it was not without its awkwardness. An opening scene in Avengers #7 struck me as funny. Iron Man, fighting the Unicorn (Tales of Suspense #56) and having heart problem and does not answer The Avengers call. So they suspend him. From what? Do The Avengers meet in the mansion and play pool together? He’s suspended from helping them save the Earth, so what good does that do? Do they withhold his pay? Why doesn’t he say he was fighting a bad guy, after all it made all the newspapers.
Let’s hear what his creators say:
Don Heck: “Stan called up one day and said, ‘You’re doing The Avengers.'” And I said, ‘Great…who are The Avengers?’ It was another book Kirby had started and I guess he got too busy so they gave it to me. Stan decided to focus a little more on the characters and less on the fight scenes and that made it really a challenge and one I enjoyed. ” Inspired by Milton Caniff, Heck drew each character with great detail but he needed to be paired with a strong writer. Don Heck was a fine artist and a good storyteller but without a good writer his stories were not memorable. Things begin to click when John Buscema replaces Don Heck and is paired with the right inker. The stories get better and better, building to the Kree-Skrull War, the highlight of the Thomas era (issues #89-97).
Stan Lee gave up writing all the team books (except the Fantastic Four). He leaves The Avengers in issue #34. New writer, Roy Thomas needed a bit of time to cook as a writer but was slowly developing. Roy said of Don Heck: “He didn’t add a lot of great imaginative elements, but if I gave him the bare bones of a story, he’d fill in the details nicely “. The Avengers never relied upon the narrow formulas that virtually all of the JLA stories were based on.
Avengers #4: So, Who is Captain America?
“Who am I? For a moment, I had almost forgotten myself! But I am not lucky enough to forget forever!—To forget that I was once the man the world called—Captain America! “
“Jack Kirby drew the original Captain America during the Golden Age of Comics…And now he draws it again. Stan Lee’s first script during those fabled days was Captain America—And now he authors it again, in this, The Marvel Age. ”
Stan Lee 2004: “One great thing about The Avengers team is the fact that we could always change the line-up of heroes, ” Lee explained. “We were able to send Iron Man on vacation and have Captain America come in to replace him. Then we had them kick out the Hulk because he became too unmanageable. Since kicking a Hulk out isn’t easy to do, it became the basis for an action-packed story. ”
1965: Question “In late 1953 there was a revival of Marvel heroes which featured Captain America, Sub-Mariner, and the Human Torch. What do you think kept Marvel’s “second heroic age ” from catching on? “
Stan Lee: “Well, they were written the way they had been written years ago, in an old fashioned style. I’m not saying this in a derogatory way. It was the style that had been used years ago. It didn’t seem like there was any reason for new readers to get excited about the stories, because they were no different than the old stories. So when we saw that we weren’t getting anywhere, we just discontinued them. “
“Do you plan to have the revised CAPTAIN America fighting the Russian communists or the Red Chinese? “
“Are you planning to give CAPTAIN AMERICA his own magazine? “
Stan: “There is only one thing stopping us, Jack (Kirby) doesn’t have the time to draw it, and I don’t have tile tire to write it. But, sooner or later, whether it be a year from now, or ten years from now, we will find the time to do it! ”
Amazing Heroes 1966
Joe Simon: “Now the first issue of Captain America had Hitler as the villain. And the whole reason we put that out was because America was in a patriotic frenzy Also, everybody was looking for interesting villains. Bob Kane and Bill Finger and the others we coming up with some very interesting ones, and they were selling. So I thought of what kind of a villain to come up with? And there was only one that the whole world hated- and that was Adolph Hitler. So he was our villain. In fact, we had the villain first and then we came up with Captain America. “
Stan Lee 1967: “…We’ve revived Captain America, Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch, but we’ve changed them. Take Captain America; he is basically the same but we made him into sort of a Hamlet, always soliloquizing having his secret sorrows and psychological hang-up problems. ”
Stan, 1974: “I tried to figure how many fallible features I could give Spider-Man. Almost all of our characters. Iron Man with his weak heart, and the fact that he’s a munitions maker and a capitalist and people hate him and think he’s a fascist. And Captain America who felt he was an anachronism because here he is a big patriotic figure at a time when patriotism really isn’t in vogue…And I suddenly realized I was enjoying what I was doing. I could have been writing movies: I was worrying about characterization, I was worrying about dialogue… “
1975: JEAN THOMAS: “Joe (Simon), I’d like to know what you would think about creating a character such as Captain America today. How would you make a Captain America relevant to 1974? Would he wear red, white and blue?
JOE SIMON: “Well, I just read somewhere that in analyzing Captain America that he is really fascist . . . and he has all the ways of a Nazi Superman. Did you read that, Stan? So I guess I would try to do something with him more on the free-thinker style. I don’t think I would be a super-type hero. It would be more like Thoreau. Well, it’s a camp thing now, isn’t it, the red white and blue? But the uniform’ valuable, isn’t it, Stan? “
LEE: “I never knew how important uniforms were until we brought out the first Fantastic Four, and thought we were being so clever by not giving them costumes. Boy, we got an avalanche of mail saying we love the book but we’ll never buy one again unless you put them in little long underwear suits. I gotta mention one thing, talking about Joe Simon. When I first started here, and think I was still wearing whole and playing with a yo-yos I walked in and there was the whole staff . . . which consisted of Joe Simon, hiding behind the Biggest cigar anybody ever saw, and Jack Kirby. But for the first three weeks I only saw the top of his head, cause he was always crouched over the drawing board while Joe was giving him orders that Jack never particularly listened to. “
Stan 1998 “One time I gave Gene a Captain America story plot. I said I want to get a few scenes of Captain America or Steve Rogers just walking in the street and just soliloquizing… thinking to himself he feels a little bit like an acronym, a man out of time… here he is in the present yet he’s a guy from the past and this was troubling him.
When Gene drew it he gave me three pages of Cap just walking in the street and I had to fill up the thought balloons with thoughts. I only meant a couple of panels, but again only Gene could have drawn three pages of a guy walking in the street! ”
Stan 2000: “The big strips that they had in those days were Captain America, the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner I worked on all of them And I loved Captain America I loved the way Jack Kirby drew him. To me, Captain America was the Errol Flynn of the comic books. “
Lee 1970: “In fact we’re big in ecology stories today, in Iron Man comics, Daredevil. . . . The one in Sub-Mariner dealt with the so-called surface race, which is ourselves, polluting the seas, and Sub-Mariner, who as everyone knows is the king of Atlantis, he took a dim view about all this. We’ve had, as I’ve mentioned, stories about campus riots. We’ve had Captain America involved in student dissents. We’ve tried to do more than just involve the characters in these contemporary problems. We try to also show how our characters themselves react to the problems. And well, one thing that I try and do in my own limited way is to show that nothing is really all black and white. Captain America can’t—although he’s considered an establishment figure really—he’s beginning to have second thoughts about the whole thing. He realizes he can’t really side with the establishment 100 percent. He realizes that there’s a lot of things that are wrong, and it seems that many of these things that are wrong, well, it seems to be no real simple, legal, effortless way to correct them short of extreme measures. By the same token he’s always fought for law and order. He’s afraid that too much violence will breed too much violence and where do you stop it. And, well, obviously this is really my own philosophy too. I have the toughest problem in the world in taking a definite stand on almost anything, and I have ambivalent feelings about virtually everything, and this is either going to make our stories extremely dull or extremely realistic. I don’t know. “
Question: “Do they (younger readers) pick up on politics though? “
Stan Lee: “Not as much as the older readers, no. But they’ll say things like “Sub-Mariner’s trunks should always be purple, but in one panel they were green. ” Well, you can only print so many of those kinds of letters. It doesn’t make for a real philosophical situation. So for that reason we do print the more interesting letters, which are nine times out of ten from older readers. But to answer your question a little more specifically, I guess I’ve strayed all around the point. We do get, an unexpected—unexpected, a few years ago—amount of letters from our readers which deal with politics. In fact, I just wrote a Soapbox column for a future bullpen in which I mention a fantastic thing, in Captain. . . . Oh, I might preface this by saying selfishly I use the letters to help me edit the magazine. It shows me what the readers want and don’t want. And for the most part I try and follow their dictates because they’re the ones that buy the books. Well, I’ve been very frustrated with our Captain America magazine. I find it’s as if I’ve been left alone on an ice floe somewhere and I got to shift for myself. I don’t know what the readers want because every letter we’ve gotten for the past three months for Captain America has merely dealt with political issues. Nobody’s said a word about the stories or the artwork themselves. Now I don’t know if people are just reading the magazine just to pick out whatever philosophy or political connotations there might be. I don’t know if anyone cares if we have super villains or if there’s any action or anything. I put a little notice in the Soapbox asking a few readers to just kinda drop us a line and let us know if they are still reading the book. “
Host: So you brought back two of those right away but you waited two years to bring back Captain America. Was it the time?
Stan: No, I, I couldn’t think of a good way to, it was easy to bring back the Torch and the Sub‑Mariner. I had to find a good way to bring back Captain America. I couldn’t think of a way to do it. I wanted to, and then it just seemed natural to bring him back in the Avengers because I thought of a story where they find him frozen in ice or something. I forget what happened, and they needed another member in the team and it just worked out and they took him, and with the Avengers I had a bunch of other characters for him to play against and react to and – Captain America really needs other people to, to talk to and to be contrasted with ’cause by himself he, he doesn’t have quite as colorful a personality as some of our other characters.
Host: Oh, I see. So it, it sort of –
Stan: It was heroic but he’s not as unique in a sense. He’s more a, a typical strong athletic guy who wants to do good things.
Host: Now I remember you had a story with Captain America that wasn’t really Captain America before that, as a sort of a tryout to check reader response.
Stan: Yeah, yeah, that’s right. That was quite a while ago.
Host: And I’m wondering, why you did that with Captain America instead of just sort of tossing him out there like you did with the Sub‑Mariner for example.
Stan: It just seemed like a – Maybe I wasn’t as sure of Captain America. I was, I was so sure the Sub‑Mariner would work and I, I just knew the Torch would work. Captain America we had – Over the years, you know, he was probably the first, one of the first characters Marvel ever did and after the war he lost popularity and they dropped the book. Then they brought him back a few years later, dropped the book. I think they brought him back a third time and they dropped the book. So I think I was a little bit diffident. I wasn’t, I wasn’t that sure it would work. I wanted to wait until I could get just the right story.
Host: That was an interesting time period with, you know, the ’60s was starting up and music was changing, politics were changing, the profile of the United States population was changing and, and so it certainly wasn’t the same type of country you were doing Captain America in back in the 40s.
Stan: That’s right. It was even difficult to bring back a patriotic character because the, the country wasn’t in the mood for that kind of patriotism at the time we brought back Captain America. They, they weren’t interested in the Army. Nobody wanted us to be at war, certainly, and there was a lot of disenchantment with the government and with the establishment, and Captain America was so much an establishment character.
Host: And yet you certainly made it work.
Stan: Well, what I did, or what I tried to do, was give him a problem. He felt he was out of sync with the time he lived in. He felt he was an anachronism. He realized that he was thinking like somebody in the late ’30s and early ’40s, but here he was living in the ’60s, and he felt he’d never quite be on the same wavelength as the people – You know he had been, I think, frozen in a glacier for about 20 years or something and consequently he would agonize about the fact that he didn’t feel he fit in. I remember, I think there was one line I wrote that I liked very much where he said maybe he should have battled less and questioned more, and I think that was the philosophy we tried to give him but he couldn’t really change his nature.
Host: I, I guess it’s, you know people who do comics are a little different from the mainstream and so is this station.
Stan: Yeah, they’re a little different from the whole human race I think. **** say that about the station.
Host: Another thing you introduced quite heavily in the Marvel Comics was, there was a lot of sort of understated religion going on. Your characters were more spiritual than really any other characters. I remember one particular line with, that Dr. Doom had just gotten the Silver Surfer’s powers and Sue Storm says he’s all powerful and I think Reed came in and said no, no there’s only who’s all powerful and his only weapon is love.
Stan: Yeah, you know, it’s funny. I’ve had that line tossed back at me by so many people at so many colleges. I, I’m really very happy with that. I, I always liked that line and I’m glad you sort of remembered it. Well, I don’t know. I never tried to be that spiritual or religious. I think maybe I tried to be moralistic. I felt that some many comics were just stories of good guys fighting bad guys and I know, I knew and I know now, that despite the fact that we have a very large older readership, there were always a lot of younger readers reading Marvel’s books and I, if I ever could throw in a line or something that maybe would do some good, you know, I tried to do that.
Host: Yeah, I noticed there was, there was a lot of that, very understated but it was, is certainly there. You may not have noticed the first time you read it but the second time your read the stories, it came out, that sort of spirituality of your characters.
Mike O’Dell: “Jack, you drew and invented, if I’m not mistaken, Captain America, one of the earliest superheroes, who’s now plying his trade in Marvel comics. How did Captain America come to be, and does he have any particular relationship to your other superheroes? “
JACK KIRBY: “I guess Captain America, like all of the characters come to be, because of the fact that there is a need for them, somebody needed Captain America, just as the public needed Superman. When Superman came on the scene, the public was ready for him, and they took him. And so, from Superman, who didn’t exactly satiate the public’s need for the superhero, so spawned the rest of them. The rest of them all came from Superman, and they all had various names, and various backgrounds, and they embraced various creeds. And Captain America came from the need for a patriotic character because the times at that time were in a patriotic stir. The war was coming on, and the corny cliche, the war humor, quite a bit of humor, to them, there is an underlying sincerity. We take them seriously, and I think the readers are aware of this. “
HOST: Well, whose basic concept was Captain America? Who did what?
Kirby: It was both of us. Because we’re both patriotic. Those were patriotic times and Captain America was an actual offshoot of those feelings. It’s hard to conceive about times when, when a guy like Hitler was grabbing everything in sight.
HOST: Well I know that you’re Jewish, am I correct?
Kirby: Yes, I am.
HOST: I want you to know that I do appreciate the…at least as much as a person my age could possibly appreciate, those times. Now I wasn’t alive at that time, but I do believe I appreciate those times, at least to some degree.
Kirby: Well, I can tell you that I came close up to that kind of thing. We had Nazi’s in New York, y’know. They’d come up to the office and I would deliver my work, and they’d say “…well, were gonna beat the Hell outta’ you! We’ll wait for you downstairs! ” And I was as stupid as they were and I said “…O.K., wait for me down there and I’ll come down and see you guys! ” And I would deliver my work to Marvel, which was Timely…And I would go downstairs, but nobody was there.
HOST: They wouldn’t hang around!
Kirby: No, they wouldn’t hang around. But, they had big meetings in Madison Square Garden.
HOST: They were called…they were called Bundists? Or Brownshirts?
Kirby: No, they were just Nazis. The brownshirts were in Germany.
HOST: In Germany. Oh, O.K. Alright.
Kirby: Yeah. But Roosevelt got rid of them. He drafted everybody.
HOST: Even the American Nazi’s?!
HOST: I’ve often thought that Siegel and Shuster’s creation of Superman was part of a reaction to the news coming out of Germany.
Kirby: Well, I just don’t know. We weren’t close friends. I knew them, as you know fellow artists contributing work to the magazines.
HOST: You created Captain America before America got into the war.
Kirby: Oh Yes! And I used to put Hitler on the cover and Captain America beating him up and I created an awful ruckus!
HOST: Did you do this anticipating the fact that we were going to get into that war?
Kirby: Well, it was nothing that I expected but…no, it was just a product of the times. Let’s face it, Hitler was in the news every day. And he was doing these things every day. Forming concentration camps and just grabbing everything in Europe and creating a general turbulence. And in fact, he was reaching out toward Greece and India…well, evidently, he wanted the world! And there was nobody to stop him. And that kind of thing was in the papers every day and it was the thing to follow up on because the American government was very adamant and…
HOST: To stay out of the war?
Kirby: Oh no! They were adamant with Hitler and they told him so. And it seemed like things were gonna happen. I collected those times in my Captain America feature.
HOST: Were the sales strong from the very beginning?
Kirby: They were very, very strong.
HOST: From the very beginning?
Kirby: Yes, from the very beginning. And Captain America seemed …well, there was patriotism, throughout the States and it was in the very air itself. And Captain America was a very natural output of that kind of feeling. So Captain America did very, very well.
HOST: Of course, shortly after the Captain America feature first appeared the publishers came out with dozens of variations on your theme, on your Captain America.
Kirby: Oh, that’s right! Yes!
1970 Kirby and Jim Steranko
Jack Kirby: Captain America for us was a kind of a landmark in our own lives because it did well. It was a very, very good and it gave us a chance to exercise our own fantasies ’cause we believe in the validity of comics because we believe that every one of us has to balance whatever we see in reality with a little bit of fantasy. I believe that’s how we live. Speaking for myself I’m never going to battle it out with six, six or eight guys, and because I know if I do I’m really going to get clobbered. But I know that in doing Captain America I can, I can take a lot of license and, and experience that kind of thing and have a lot of fun with it. Captain America was really a, a sort of choreographed ballet and it, it was a – especially in the fight scenes and it avoided the ugly part of life and it was still, and it’s still what I, what I thought was the, was the fine part of human endeavor in any situation. So it was an enjoyment for me to do especially when I came back to Marvel there in the late ’50s and began to do Captain America again. And I had the opportunity of doing him as a human being because he’d been gone for a certain period of time and revived and I had to create a link between this span of time, and I had the opportunity of creating another facet to his character. I, I enjoyed doing that. So if you have any questions or if you have any insights that you’d like to voice yourself, I take this opportunity if you would like to add a little to possibly what I’ve said.
Yes; I’ll give you the definitive answer on that. I am Captain America in that, in that instance. I feel that whoever is involved in, whoever is involved in it and has sincerely tried to create something good, will put himself in that specific situation and come up with a, very human solution because it would be their particular solution; they very own.
Joe Simon 1981
“Let me tell you first about how we created Captain America…This country was not at war [Captain America’s first appearance in March of 1941 preceded by seven months the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor which predicated America’s entry into World War II]. Yes, there was a war over in Europe, but there was a lot of controversy in this country about whether we should get involved. There was a lot of opposition…lots of demonstrations and marches and rallies by the America First Group, the American Nazi Party, the Nazi Fund. The opponents to the war were all quite well organized. We wanted to have our say, too. We didn’t want to go to war, but we felt very intense about what was going on over in Europe. So we had this new character, Captain America, reflect our attitudes about the war. He didn’t want to fight, but he knew that the Nazis had to be stopped and he was prepared to do his best to stop them.
When the first issue came out we got a lot of bad mail, a lot of threatening letters and hate mail. Some people really opposed what Cap stood for. I could never understand that because he stood for America—Freedom and justice. How can anybody be against that? But anyway after the first issue we got so many threats that for a while we had a police man in the office watching over us. It was kind of funny. There we were working on a comic book and there was this guard making sure that we weren’t attacked or something.
I guess we did quite a bit to promote patriotism in this country. We felt very good about making a political statement through [Cap] and taking a stand. It was a bit frightening, though, what with all the reaction we got. The book sold well, it was a tremendous success so that proved we had more friends than enemies.
We often used Adolph Hitler as our prime villain. Now other companies had been doing very well with colorful villains—The Batman in particular had the Penguin and the Joker—but we wanted to use a real live villain. Cap might have been only a symbol but we wanted him to fight a real menace, something that was a real threat to our country. So we used Adolph Hitler. We had him on the first couple of covers. Captain America was always crashing through windows and beating him up.
Captain America was very much a reflection of his times. He was patriotic when the country was patriotic. He was willing to fight for his country when his country was getting ready to get into a horrible war. We saw him as a political statement fleshed out to be an active force. We would have him go through an exaggerated adventure and his actions and the story would all be making a political statement.
I don’t know what I’d do if I had to do him today. I’ve lost touch with the book. I haven’t read it for a long time.
But anyway, to get back to Captain America…I guess I’d have to first read it and see what he’s been doing all these years. I haven’t followed the book so I don’t know what people have had him do or have been doing to him. I think the important thing would be to keep him contemporary. Get him involved in adventures based on real world events. See, Captain America is the expression of the American ideal. He stands for what America should do if we could do anything we wanted. He’s our nation’s wish fulfillment.
For plots I guess I’d draw on all the interesting things going on in the world that you could turn into the springboard for a story. I’d probably have him get involved with real things: the hostage thing, terrorism, streets gangs, that sort of thing. I would get him involved with what is really going on today.
The character has a real pull. It’s been around too long just to be tied to one time period. He can be adapted to fit into any situation, any social climate. He’s a reflection of us. I think he’s our ultimate fantasy. He’s a comic book character, an ideal, a political statement, whatever, who can get involved in an adventure that involves real contemporary problems. Superman can’t fight a mugger because he’s too strong. He has to fight aliens and things. But Captain America is just like us. He can fight a mugger and it would be an exciting adventure fantasy that really has meaning because it is still real, still familiar. I think that is the key to the character. I think that is why there is still a Captain America. “
Steranko: I had been after Captain America for awhile. He wanted to give me something and that was it. I had wanted to do Captain America a whole lifetime, because I grew up with comics in the forties. I remember the original Captain America. It was a lifetime ambition of mine to do that strip. I enjoyed doing it. I don’t think I ever got it precisely right, the way I saw it in my head, but each issue was getting closer to the way I wanted to see Captain America. I would have enjoyed doing more issues of Cap, but, again, they broke up, I think, my run. They threw in one Kirby story in between and the same thing happened. I simply didn’t want my issues broken up with others. I thought it lessened the impact — of the month after month, continuous story line. I had some good ideas coming up for them, though. Another thing, now that I’m thinking about it, Stan wanted Rick Jones to be worked into the strip. Now they’ve dropped him. I had to work in the background and think of things for him to do. It slowed up the ideas that I wanted to do for Captain America, myself. It was a gratuitous story to get this kid working as Cap’s pal again, took up too much story line, although I was pleased to accept the challenge of it.
Captain America was a lot of fun for me to write. I think Captain America was another case in which everybody involved with it was in the right place he had to be. Marshall or Frank or Gene do put something extra into it, so there is a difference, but I was very happy with the way Captain America turned out.
I don’t see him being at all immature. Captain America, in a sense, I might say that about because he still believes in the ideal in the fact of adverse reality. Captain America, as I did him, said in the final analysis, “A lot of people don’t believe in this, but I have to, and I do. ” The Batman does not fly in the face of reality. The Batman is reality incarnate in the crazy world. I think he knows himself better than anybody else. The Batman fully understands what he’s doing, why he’s doing it, but he’s grown up. He’s not still ‘a little kid living out a childhood battle. He’s devoted his life to it, but he’s now an adult living with his full capacities. Captain America had been a liberal long before I got him, with his black partner and cleaning up the slums. That was who he was. As for my personal political beliefs, I believe in pragmatism. If you need to tighten things up to get things accomplished, then do it. If you need to liberalize them because there’s too much fascism going on, then let’s do it. It comes back to what I said about the Batman: it’s figuring out I don’t buy it, particularly with Captain America. He isn’t the Batman, he isn’t Mr. Fantastic, or Daredevil. As Captain America he’s got to be involved with America. That book — and this is another of my accomplishments in comics — was bottom of the line in sales for years. Stan obviously didn’t care at all. When it came time to devoting his energies, Captain America was getting the least amount of it. For fifty issues it had just been lying there; there was no sense of why this guy had to exist. He was just another guy in a costume who shouted slogans once in a while. That seems to me to be what he’s, come back to, too. People think that if he’s Captain America, he has to go around saying vaguely ridiculous patriotic things. That’s not it. The guy is committed to America. So first of all you have to figure out what America is and what he would be thinking about. Then, he doesn’t have to be ridiculous; he doesn’t have to be a cornball, patriotic banana. He can be whatever he’s supposed to be at the time to get America across. When I took it over, they told me that the only Captain America stories that had ever sold were the Sleeper stories in Tales of Suspense. Everything else had just died. By the time I got it, it was in danger of being cancelled. Within six months I had it at the top of the line and it stayed at the top of the line the whole time I wrote it. As soon as I left, it went right back into the toilet, and it’s been at the bottom of the line ever since.
If your name is Captain America, you should be political. The only thing I object to is that if you’re fitting it into continuity, it’s not your character and I think it would be wrong to come in and say, “Okay, he’s been liberal for four years but I’m a conservative writer. Therefore, he’s now conservative. ” If I thought he should get more conservative, I’d take six months to get him there. I’d give him a reason to reevaluate himself. But you can’t change him overnight if there’s any sense of real continuity, any coherence in the Marvel Universe.
DAVE: There was a period in your Captain America series where you had Cap become Nomad, and in a sense, by taking away the stars and stripes, intentionally or not, you were making a comment. Was this disillusionment with America related to your Army years?
STEVE: No. I was disillusioned with the war.’ I was disillusioned with a lot of what America became, but I still believe a lot of what Captain America believes.
I believe that this country is something that always has the possibility of becoming a really wonderful place. And I think it’s a continuous struggle between the ideals and the negative parts of capitalism.
So I felt a lot like Cap did. That I’d been betrayed by the whole Watergate trip.
But when I traveled in Europe—and most Americans never get out of America—and saw how other countries worked, I liked America better. I appreciate America more now,
Captain America is a special case. He’s not Daredevil and he’s not Batman. The book had been at the bottom of the Marvel line and in danger of cancellation until I took it over. It went to the top of the line within six months and stayed there as long as I had it. It immediately went back into the toilet as soon as I left.
I think the reason for that is not so much anything obvious, but that in the Captain America’s coming out today, they treat him as if he’s a naive person who makes cornball slogans. And I don’t think anybody out there reading the book is going to get really interested in somebody we’ve already established is kind of a dolt.
My Captain America believed what he stood for. I don’t think he was corny because what he was saying was decent. It was appropriate for him.
Batman, on the other hand, is a much more right wing, fascist-type character. although I don’t think of Batman as fascist. The Batman was a different character and he had to be written differently.
But Captain America had to be taken from a certain approach. and it has been the only successful approach to him in the last 30 years.
Comics Journey 1981:
Englehart: “In the entire history of Captain America — or at least since World War II ended — it only sold when I was writing it, as far as I know. Again, the approach I tried to take was, “Why is this guy different from the rest of them? ” In Doctor Strange I just had to work a little harder to educate myself. “
“Captain America is much more changeable as time goes on. The guy that I wrote in the midst of the Watergate situation was basically against all that sort of stuff, but I really wouldn’t have any sort of quarrel with a more right-wing, patriotic Captain America in the ’40s. I do think the Cap I wrote would have been smart enough in the ’50s to know that this red-baiting stuff was getting out of hand and wouldn’t have been going around fighting the Commies all the time like he did in the books.
Thompson: You wrote a story about it.
Yeah. And if it turned out that the entire government was taken over by pinkos–as an example here, right–and it got to the point where the best thing that could be done for America was to become very intense and very conservative, I would think Captain America would go in that direction, and I would have no trouble writing a conservative Captain America if that seemed to be the best thing for America at the time. ”
“I remember buying Captain America #1. I loved it when I first saw it. I was also a big fan of Charlie Biro’s books; the Daredevil was my favorite character. Biro was, I think, one of the least credited geniuses that we have. I think he did everything that Stan Lee did years later, but nobody noticed it, and nobody mentioned it. He was a genius. I think he should be documented as a legitimate genius, even though he was a strictly commercialized guy. The work he did is still memorable to me fifty, sixty years later. I remember George Tuska’s work from the early 1940’s. Those are the guys that I idolized from the beginning.
“When I got married, it was the first time I slept in a steam-heated room. My wife and I were both ‘cold flat babies.’ I bought Captain America #1 and Superman #1 when I was eight years old, and I traced them a thousand times. I had the foresight to have my Dad buy me two copies. I put one in a bag and traced the other till there was no wax on the page. ” Unfortunately, he groans, “I never kept ’em! “
GERRY CONWAY: During the fifties you drew Captain America for Timely, didn’t you?
ROMITA: Right. Before that, I did some war books, some westerns, a little romance work. And suddenly’ they revised a few of the super-hero titles—Sub-Mariner, the Human Torch, and Captain America. So I did a short Captain America feature in Young Men, for about three or four issues, and then Stan decided to go for a full book, and I did it—it didn’t run very long—less than a year.
CONWAY: So until the sixties, you didn’t really have much contact with the comic book super-hero.
ROMITA: Right. It was always my natural inclination, for in comic books I was a Kirby fan, and in syndication I was a Caniff fan—so if I was working in comics, I assumed I should work like Kirby, and when I got a chance at Captain America, I became so excited I tensed up—and it was really bad stuff. I had dreams of getting loose and starting to do Kirby stuff, just pure, wild, out-of-the-panel Kirby action—and then they dropped the book. And I was back doing romance, and westerns—I was stuck in westerns for about two years. And I always had that urge, that desire to do super-heroes, but I never got a chance.