Captain America vs. Tea Parties

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Many political bloggers are also nerds, so the controversy between comic-book icon Captain America and the Tea Party movement is a big deal in the blogosphere. In the latest issue, the Marvel superhero investigates an unnamed political protest for clues about a fictitious survivalist/white supremacist group. But that protest bears striking resemblance to photos of a real Tea Party protest that took place in Washington last February. Here's the comic in question, and here's the real thing, photographed by The Washington Independent's David Weigel. Marvel has apologized for the comic following pressure from conservative bloggers. All of which raises the question: are comic books political?

  • The Proud Liberal Tradition of Comics  Conservative blogger James Joyner explains. "Both Marvel and DC were vaguely liberal during the days I read them and had been since at least the 1960s, as I eventually obtained and read thousands of back issues of the books I collected." From Vietnam on, "The books contained all manner of mainstream Left thoughts on dealing with poverty, race relations, the war on drugs, and other issues of the day. They were never hard core radicals — the publishers were New Deal liberals, not Counterculture types — but there was no doubt that they had a particular vision of what 'justice' meant and what America stood for."
  • Why Captain America Is Liberal  The American Prospect's Adam Serwer wrote in 2008, "if you see Captain America as an avatar of American freedom and ideology, the fact that he takes what could be described as the liberal/left/Democratic position on one of the defining issues of our time suggests Captain America has actually been quite partisan of late. [...] If you see Captain America's death as a metaphor for the death of civil liberties in the wake of the Bush administration's support of torture and warrantless wiretapping, then his demise is infused with partisan meaning."
  • Marvel Clearly Partisan  Conservative blogger Allahpundit denounces the politicization of comics. "I'm surprised the archvillian isn’t a female superhero from Alaska with glasses and 'big breasts,' the way the right-wing rabble likes ‘em. Something to shoot for in the next issue, I guess. If you’re surprised by any of this, you haven’t been paying attention: We’ve written sporadically about Marvel’s turn to the left for years now."
  • Captain America's Politics  Liberal blogger Spencer Ackerman evaluates the superhero's stance. "[T]his strikes me as entirely commensurate with the stories [Marvel writer] Brubaker tells portraying Cap as a redeeming figure for an increasingly hysterical country," he writes. "Captain America would tell the teabaggers that they ought to consider that freedom is something rather more than the top marginal tax rate."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.