Arnie Roth
May 30, 2014 3:16 AM   Subscribe


 
I'll see if I can dig up the panel, but there's a scene in Young Avengers (I think) when there's some discussion of Hulkling and Wiccan's relationship and people expect Captain America to be weirded out by it, but he's completely unfazed. Steve is almost always written as a man that adapts well to things largely outside his original comfort zone, which is why I think he has been and will be among the most liberal superheroes from the major companies. He started as a New Deal Democrat, was updated for the post-war era as a supporter of most civil rights, and he's a progressive in both his current comic (at least in the 616 universe) and movie incarnations. He'd piss off and be pissed off by the conservatives and libertarians that completely misunderstand his ideals and mindset if he were made flesh. Pretty good for a guy approaching his centenary!
posted by zombieflanders at 4:24 AM on May 30, 2014 [21 favorites]


I think we're a bit off from it being something that actually appears in print, but my money is still on Captain America being the first A-lister male superhero who gets written with a male love interest. It is, admittedly, the sort of thing I picture happening more twenty years from now than next week, but it'll happen to one of them eventually. And I think that precisely because of stuff like this--racial and ethnic minorities also started as generally bad guys and then fringe characters and up from there, and now look at what they're doing in the response to Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. So, Bucky started off as a kid sidekick, maybe Arnie will at some point get his role upgraded, too.
posted by Sequence at 5:09 AM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


That would be amazing if it were published now, much less 1984. Impressive work, J.M. DeMatteis.
posted by ignignokt at 5:12 AM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Starting with Steve Engelhart and going through J.M. DeMatteis, the Captain America comic of the 1970s and early 1980s tended to position Cap and his allies as defenders of pluralism and respecters of difference, while villains were positioned as bigots along with their usual power-lust and greed. Cap's friends and allies included Roth, Sharon Carter (until her pointless death, since thankfully retconned), the Falcon (Big Two comics' first African-American supehero), Dave Cox (a Vietnam veteran turned radical pacifist), Gabe Jones (an African-American WWII vet and SHIELD stalwart), and Peggy Carter (an older woman, also a WWII vet, who found a way to manage what amounted to PTSD).

This is the era that saw the 1950s Bucky defeated by Sharon Carter and the Falcon after hurling racist and misogynist insults at them; and the Red Skull first sputtering in lunatic outrage that Peggy Carter and Gabe Jones were romantic partners, and, about a decade later, trying to brainwash pacifist Dave Cox into a killer and directing grotesque homophobia towards the captured Arnie Roth. The comic made a pretty direct link between these sorts of prejudice and ideologically motivated violence and plain fascism.

But Arnie Roth, in particular, is a character way ahead of his time in terms of prevailing popular attitudes. I remember that some years later at DC John Ostrander could not get approval for including a gay character in the supporting cast of his Manhunter comic, though his Suicide Squad had a diverse supporting cast. And of course Chris Claremont had to resort to indirect hints and archaic terms like "leman" to get Mystique and Destiny's relationship onto the page in some fashion over in his Uncanny X-Men, while John Byrne (!) was never allowed to directly state anything about Northstar of Alpha Flight (who has since become a character whose distinctive, multidimensional personality has largely been extracted in favor of leaning heavily on sexual-orientation tokenism).
posted by kewb at 5:19 AM on May 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


Yet Another Example of how Mavel's goofiest, most embarrassing character concept is able to tackle foes that should be way out of his league. It's what makes the character work for me.

(Fans of the comic linked will be delighted with the newest Captain America movie, which is a rebuke to NeCon fantasies like "24" while also being an incredibly fun, intrigue and explosion-filled romp.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:24 AM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think we're a bit off from it being something that actually appears in print, but my money is still on Captain America being the first A-lister male superhero who gets written with a male love interest.

Outside of Ultimates or Elseworlds or other alternate-universe-ing, I see that happening slightly the other way around: male superhero with male love interest becomes A-lister. There's just too much continuity and established heterosexuality for it to feel like anything but pandering if the "baseline" Captain America or Wolverine or Batman or Green Lantern suddenly "becomes" gay (GL might end up being the way it happens: after all, John Stewart is the baseline Green Lantern for a fair number of people who came up during the DCAU years).
posted by Etrigan at 5:26 AM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think we're a bit off from it being something that actually appears in print, but my money is still on Captain America being the first A-lister male superhero who gets written with a male love interest.

Northstar is A-list, damnit!

Ahem.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:29 AM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh, and Hercules! Hercules is A-list etc!
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:30 AM on May 30, 2014


This was wonderful. I've really come to love Captain America lately, after years of distaste based essentially on the name alone.

And, on the idea of an A-list male superhero with a male love interest, I can totally see it happening. They wouldn't need to retcon anything if they write it well. In fact, sympathetically telling the story of a man who doesn't come to terms with his gayness until later in life is one of the takes on the subject that is most often overlooked (or played for laughs) even in otherwise progressive media. That, or a bisexuality that can be handwaved in a single panel: "Cap, what's this? You've always been a ladies' man?" "I've always been a ladies' man AND a man's man, Scott."

Anyhow, I can actually imagine, with the right confluence of events, this making it to the screen sooner than you think. The comics have lately been a sort of low-budget test bed for things they might try in film. Nick Fury, for example, was made black in the comics in 2001, and I'm sure that the fact that comics readers saw no problem with that played a big role in the studio casting Sam Jackson. And I could totally see a gay Cap or Spidey or whoever appearing in the comics as early as tomorrow. The only thing that would then keep it from making its way onto the screen would be a serious outcry from the readers.
posted by 256 at 5:47 AM on May 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


J.M. DeMatteis is one of the best writers in comics for my money. He was one of the original voices of Vertigo, and his one-shot "Mercy" was so powerful and particularly memorable to me. He's pretty great on Twitter, too.
posted by jbickers at 5:53 AM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh, and Hercules! Hercules is A-list etc!

Hercules once got his hand stuck punching the Blob in the gut, who then laughed at him and headbutted him unconscious.

The Blob is tough and all, but Cap or Iron Man or Thor would not put themselves in that position. Even the Hulk knows better than to trade gut-punches with the Blob.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:54 AM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Nick Fury, for example, was made black in the comics in 2001

This is close, but not entirely accurate. Ultimate Nick Fury was made black in 2001 (and in fact was almost identical in appearance to Samuel L. Jackson, well before his actual casting), but regular, non-Ultimate Nick Fury stayed white until 2012 - well after the success of Jackson's Nick Fury - when he was retired and replaced with Nick Fury Jr., the one-eyed black son who had never been mentioned or referenced in the comics before then.

/nerdpedantry
posted by Itaxpica at 5:55 AM on May 30, 2014 [14 favorites]


captain america has a number of gay friends. have you ever seen the movie "batman and robin"?
posted by bruce at 6:02 AM on May 30, 2014


Hercules once got his hand stuck punching the Blob in the gut, who then laughed at him and headbutted him unconscious.

The Blob is tough and all, but Cap or Iron Man or Thor would not put themselves in that position. Even the Hulk knows better than to trade gut-punches with the Blob.


To be fair, Hercules being bisexual and Hercules being an idiot can coexist.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:08 AM on May 30, 2014 [10 favorites]


Incidently, the best portrayal of Hercules? New Mutants #81. Hercules, who of course was based on Steve Reeves sword and sandals Hercules, answers the summons of Magma (born and raised in a hidden Roman colony in the Amazon jungle) who expects a more mythological figure and has to try and do his best to convince her that he is who he says he is.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:21 AM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


John Byrne (!) was never allowed to directly state anything about Northstar of Alpha Flight (who has since become a character whose distinctive, multidimensional personality has largely been extracted in favor of leaning heavily on sexual-orientation tokenism).

Actually, didn't John Byrne make it clear some time ago he never wanted Northstar to be gay? IIRC it was Bill Mantlo who started to heavily hint that he was (and then he got the aid^wmagical fairy disease and left the title, then he was back and Scott Lobdell outed him in the most obnoxious way possible.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:24 AM on May 30, 2014


kewb: Starting with Steve Engelhart and going through J.M. DeMatteis, the Captain America comic of the 1970s and early 1980s tended to position Cap and his allies as defenders of pluralism and respecters of difference, while villains were positioned as bigots along with their usual power-lust and greed.

I'm still flogging my concept of a team of diverse Captains America called America Company. Call me, Marvel!
posted by Rock Steady at 6:26 AM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


when he was retired and replaced with Nick Fury Jr., the one-eyed black son who had never been mentioned or referenced in the comics before then.

Well, technically Nick Jr didn’t lose the eye until that arc /FURTHER NERD PEDANTRY

It’s also not like comic fans had an enlightened view of that arc, either. I tried listening to the nerdist comics writer’s panel sometime last year - I think I made it through three or four episodes, and in all of them, Len Wein decided that he needed to bring up the ridiculousness of that arc. And his biggest issue with it seemed to be the ridiculousness of Nick Fury having a black son. That, not the weirdness of a baddie blowing out a guy’s eye to make him ‘more like his father’, not the weirdness of any other comic book plot in the history of mankind, Nick Fury having a black son. Because Nick Fury, Sr. never got around? So, you know, not sterling.

(I gave up on that podcast due to remarks like those, and the ones where they were talking about Captain America and the phrase ‘like your friend from the old country who’s been here for twenty years and but still hasn’t lost his accent’ came up)
posted by dinty_moore at 6:37 AM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


This is close, but not entirely accurate. Ultimate Nick Fury was made black in 2001 (and in fact was almost identical in appearance to Samuel L. Jackson, well before his actual casting)

Yes, of course (though original black Ultimate Nick Fury looked almost nothing like Sam Jackson at first). Just as the comics are a test bed for the movies now, they conveniently have alternate universes and timelines in which to try things out without affecting the main continuity, even in the comics. I'm sure if we get a gay Captain America, it's not going to be on Earth 616. At least not at first.
posted by 256 at 6:38 AM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Actually, didn't John Byrne make it clear some time ago he never wanted Northstar to be gay?

According to his FAQ, Byrne was prevented from making Northstar openly gay by Marvel editorial. I do recall that he's said something about not wanting to be too overt or to make it the whole of the character's personality, but he's been pretty consistent AFAIK in stating that he always intended the character to be gay.
posted by kewb at 6:44 AM on May 30, 2014


And just one of many reasons I can never, ever get behind stories where Steve is self-hating gay. 

Wait. What?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:44 AM on May 30, 2014


Wait. What?

Fanfic trope.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:46 AM on May 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


Oh. Carry on.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:47 AM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


To follow up, Byrne has a lot of problems when it comes to both fictional and real-world issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality, of course; and Byrne gets worse with every passing year. It's quite possible that he's backpedaled about Northstar more recently, but for decades prior he's been pretty clear that Northstar was gay in his stories. Certainly it's hard to read, say, Alpha Flight v.1 #7-8 any other way.
posted by kewb at 6:48 AM on May 30, 2014


Fanfic trope.

Somewhere Mark Millar is writing a pitch.
posted by pseudocode at 7:15 AM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


In my head canon Steve Rogers has been marching in uniform in Gay Prides ever since he's been defrosted and everybody always assumed it was just somebody with a Cap fetish.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:59 AM on May 30, 2014 [28 favorites]


Outside of Ultimates or Elseworlds or other alternate-universe-ing, I see that happening slightly the other way around: male superhero with male love interest becomes A-lister. There's just too much continuity and established heterosexuality for it to feel like anything but pandering if the "baseline" Captain America or Wolverine or Batman or Green Lantern suddenly "becomes" gay (GL might end up being the way it happens: after all, John Stewart is the baseline Green Lantern for a fair number of people who came up during the DCAU years).

Yeah, I'd feel kind of betrayed if they did a "Sure there's 50 years of backstory to the contrary, but now things are different!" But I think it's pretty easy to put a new Green Lantern in.
posted by corb at 8:11 AM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


As a point of information, Green Lantern Alan Scott of Earth-2 - ie the Golden Age Green Lantern - is now canonically gay. When DC re-re-re-re-booted their continuity with the New 52, he became a gay man.

(Although his fiancé was almost immediately fridged by a train, because DC.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:20 AM on May 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


Wait I thought I was captain America's gay best friend.


Damnit.
posted by The Whelk at 8:32 AM on May 30, 2014 [19 favorites]


when he was retired and replaced with Nick Fury Jr., the one-eyed black son who had never been mentioned or referenced in the comics before then.

His son is one-eyed, too? Or does he just wear the patch out of tradition?
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:00 AM on May 30, 2014


His son loses his eye in the story that he's introduced in, for extremely stupid reasons.
posted by Itaxpica at 9:04 AM on May 30, 2014


I've really come to love Captain America lately, after years of distaste based essentially on the name alone.

Yeah, I was right there with you in the late-80's/early-90's, until a friend of mine who collected Cap heard me voice that opinion and looking at me with disbelief, said "You know the Falcon is black, right? The All-Winners were diversity before the X-men; have you even read Cap's book?" And, after correcting that oversight, I found he was right, and Cap's diversity, inclusiveness, and ambiguity about being the symbol that he was (I loved the Nomad and The Captain eras, even if the quality wasn't all that reliable) became a favorite go-to (along with racism in The X-Men, the blind and disabled Daredevil, lame Thor, fear and control of bestial rage and unknown in Hulk, and overarching morality in Spiderman) when discussing the ways in which comics are a serious art form that reflect not only the norms and mores but conflicts and anxieties of the society in which they are formed just as much as any other art form.

My book* was Daredevil, and I always secretly yearned that the diabolically-themed vigilante would have more conflict with his Lady-Justice-blind lawyer alter ego, where the failures and successes of our legal system were hashed out; it didn't make it easier that the Kingpin of Crime was his coin's flipside as a criminal who operated, largely, within the law, yet also never really tackled that problem. Sure, there were stories that touched on all of these components (particularly the crossovers with the Punisher - oh, just magic: Punisher's vengance versus Daredevil's justice - and that one story about identity with the Mauler), but nothing that drew them all together in a tight tapestry that pointed out the complexity of a functioning justice system balancing revenge and correction, at least not to my satisfaction, not like in Captain America's book. Such a missed opportunity, as these questions have only become more pointed as time has wound on.

*Every collector has 'their book' - the one in which they invest a great deal of emotion - though everybody also gets other books as well
posted by eclectist at 9:25 AM on May 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


I've always assumed that they essentially combined the characters of Arnie Roth and Bucky Barnes into the Bucky Barnes we see in the Captain America movies, since MCU Bucky Barnes is not in fact a teenage Army brat sidekick, and is instead Steve Rogers' childhood BFF. But now I don't remember if there's ever been any official confirmation of that, or if it was just fanon. Anyone know if it's ever come up in any commentaries or articles?
posted by yasaman at 9:29 AM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


*Every collector has 'their book' - the one in which they invest a great deal of emotion - though everybody also gets other books as well

I'm still holding out for a gay character in my book, Cap'n Quick & a Foozle, but I'm expecting it to be a key storyline in #3 any day now, if my Ouija board messages ever make it through the aether.
posted by sonascope at 9:37 AM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Ah, I finally found the panel I was talking about upthread. I kind of love Hulkling and Wiccan's astonished reaction that Cap is totally cool with their relationship.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:52 AM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm still holding out for a gay character in my book, Cap'n Quick & a Foozle

Of course it's sonascope who actually remembers this Marshall Rogers oddity.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:07 AM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think it's far more important, and far more valuable, to have Cap as a bastion of tolerance rather than having him become a gay character himself.

Young Avengers, as shown by several posters above, is filled with excellent characters who are informed by their LGBT-ness from the ground up instead of being "and oh yeah, that's the gay one" on some checklist. Readers who want characters of their own sexuality to relate to should have real characters, not just "oh, well, I guess we're done with Captain America so you can have him now." Moreover, I think it's just as important to have strong exemplars of tolerance. To be a bit crude, the message "Dear Insecure Adolescent Reader, Captain America is no less 'manly' (whatever that means) for being accepting of his gay peers," is still very necessary.

Oh, and since Hercules was mentioned... Straight or gay, we know he's at least into kink. In a recent Superior Foes of Spider-Man he walks in mid-robbery to find a tavern full of people tied to chairs while the thieves wait for a time-lock safe to open. To which he declares (something close to):

"Either this is the saddest BDSM club in Manhattan, or villainy is afoot!"
posted by Freon at 10:11 AM on May 30, 2014 [12 favorites]


it didn't make it easier that the Kingpin of Crime was his coin's flipside as a criminal who operated, largely, within the law, yet also never really tackled that problem.

The Spider-Man newspaper comic covered this a while back:

“I mean, how could a lawyer help defeat a villain with no superpowers who runs a large criminal organization? It makes no sense!”

DAREDEVIL: “And that’s where attorney Matt Murdock comes in!”

SPIDER-MAN: “Wow! This I gotta see!”

[SEVEN HOURS AND HUNDREDS OF LEXISNEXIS SEARCHES LATER]

SPIDER-MAN: “Oh, man, was I ever wrong about this.”

posted by asperity at 10:18 AM on May 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


[SEVEN HOURS AND HUNDREDS OF LEXISNEXIS SEARCHES LATER]

SPIDER-MAN: “Oh, man, was I ever wrong about this.”


LexisNexis is the worst version of the Wonder Twins ever.
posted by Etrigan at 10:33 AM on May 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


Hercules was a guest instructor at Avengers Academy. Memorably.

That's another title that did LGBT characters well. Striker in particular had an entertaining arc.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:38 AM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


So I've recently come around to loving Cap - those two movies are now my favorite superhero movies ever - but I never read any of the comics. Can somebody recommend the best arcs/collected editions? I've been told that the Ed Brubaker stories were particularly good.
posted by jbickers at 11:27 AM on May 30, 2014


I have never regretted reading anything Ed Brubaker wrote. My only warning is that if you start with his Cap stories, you will see many many other perfectly good Cap stories as second-rate.
posted by Etrigan at 11:39 AM on May 30, 2014


Can somebody recommend the best arcs/collected editions?

I can give you an anti-recommendation: anything Mark Millar's involved with.
posted by asterix at 11:42 AM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I asked mefi how to read Captain America a while ago.

I need Cap to be bi (also Falcon, Bucky and Natasha) for Polyamory Initiative Reasons
posted by NoraReed at 11:51 AM on May 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


A second anti-recommendation: In my opinion, ignore the current Remender series.

The Dimension Z storyline just doesn't feel like it's a Cap story. If you palatte-swapped the characters and made a Batman/R'as al Ghul story out of it you wouldn't notice the difference and frankly it would make more sense. It's a grimdark plot filled with pointless deaths that would feel right at home in a DC book.

The Loose Nuke storyline is where for some reason Remender forgets it's not 1986 and honest-to-god straight plays a "superpower vietnam vet has PTSD and snaps" plot for 5 issues. It serves no purpose other than to set up the current storyline where careful readers who were also fans of Muppets Tonight will note the emergence of "I'm Stu. Bubbles Come Out of My Head!" as a mind controlling villain.

As the kids say, I can't even.
posted by Freon at 12:05 PM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was only vaguely aware of Cap until maybe a year or two ago. He has quickly become my favorite superhero.
posted by brundlefly at 12:16 PM on May 30, 2014


I'd rec the Winter Soldier arc (Brubaker, as recced above) to start with, then Captain America: Man Out Of Time (by Mark Waid). I really like Chris Samnee's artwork in Captain America and Bucky: The Life Story of Bucky Barnes (Brubaker again).
posted by Vortisaur at 1:13 PM on May 30, 2014


The older Waid/Garney stuff is pretty good too; Operation: Rebirth and Man Without a Country were fun stuff. His second run wasn't that great, unfortunately, so skip To Serve and Protect, American Nightmare, and Land of the Free. One somewhat overlooked Brubaker Cap work is the 1940s-set story The Marvels Project, which is worth checking out once you've exhausted the regular Brubaker run on Captain America. Brubaker also did the first fourteen issues of a Winter Soldier spinoff comic, collected in three trades: The Longest Winter, Broken Arrow, and Black Widow Hunt.

The somewhat dated Avengers: Under Siege isn't strictly a Cap story, but it does have some rather memorable Cap-centric moments, as does the Dawn's Early Light collection by the same writer, Roger Stern. Again, though, these are a bit dated and more stereotypically "comic-booky" compared to Brubaker's approach and the films' work. The very dated stuff would be the Steve Engelhart material, which is steeped in the 1970s and veer into outright camp at certain points; it's a favorite run of mine, but I must admit it's a sentimental favorite.

Speaking of the Black Widow, her current title is quite good and the first trade collection is coming soon. The older Itsy Bitsy Spider arc is pretty good as well, but that trade is out of print. Avoid most everything else featuring the character, though; she simply wasan't well served in comics until after 2000.
posted by kewb at 1:48 PM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


The video game Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is what turned me around on Captain America, after a decent spell of being reflexively annoyed by him due to the name, like many of you. But he's just such an awesome character in that game, in the sense of his writing and role, that even after I'd unlocked other people who were more powerful, Cap never left my team. I definitely need to dive further into his canon.
posted by Errant at 1:52 PM on May 30, 2014


I think it's far more important, and far more valuable, to have Cap as a bastion of tolerance rather than having him become a gay character himself …. Readers who want characters of their own sexuality to relate to should have real characters, not just "oh, well, I guess we're done with Captain America so you can have him now.

Okay, so this is where I’m going to have to disagree with you, and the mentality that we should just create new diverse characters and hope that they become A-listers. What gets listed as an A-lister in comics generally follows what characters are featured in things other than comics – TV shows, animated series, merchandise, movies. there’s a reason why Nick Fury is now black in the 616, and there’s a reason why we’re now thinking of Captain America and Iron Man as A-listers when we weren’t ten years ago, and it has everything to do with the movies.

And forgive me, I’m not going to expect Hollywood to step up to the plate for diversity. They certainly haven’t yet. I’m not going to expect the merch to follow, either, considering how notorious it is to just sort of leave out female and minority characters out of toy and clothing runs.

So creating new characters just tends to create a Barbie and Friends mentality – while the supporting characters might be diverse, the lead’s always going to be a straight white male. I mean, it’s better than nothing, but it’s not ideal. Sometimes it’s cool to see yourself as the main character. It’s a lot more efficient to take one that’s already got a brand attached to it.

And man, I’ve got a lot of issues with the idea that queering Captain America means that the straights are done with him, so they’re giving him to the gays. What, straight people can’t enjoy a queer Cap? If people are so bigoted that they can’t relate to a character just because of their sexuality, why should I care about their feelings?

So yeah, give Cap a male love interest. Larger, weirder retcons happen all the goddamn time. Hell, it’s not even a retcon – we’re not saying he isn’t attracted to women. Let his supporting cast be the ones to teach about tolerance.
posted by dinty_moore at 1:52 PM on May 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


Uh, now that the conversation has completely moved on, I'm going to +1 the rec for Mark Waid's Man out of Time.
posted by dinty_moore at 2:02 PM on May 30, 2014


Cap already has at least two male love interests in Sam and Bucky and no one is going to convince me any differently

fandom: solving shipping wars with polyamory since spock/kirk/bones probably
posted by NoraReed at 2:04 PM on May 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


The rise of Steve/Bucky all over tumblr has chilled my dark Stony heart.
posted by The Whelk at 2:07 PM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


The rise of Steve/Bucky has warmed my cold heart. I was running out of non-Steve/Tony MCU fic to read, and now there's so much! Plus so many variations on Steve/Sam/Bucky/Natasha! It's a good fandom summer for me.

Also, it occurs to me that if MCU Bucky Barnes = Comics Bucky (straight) + Arnie Roth (gay), then surely that equation balances out to equal MCU Bucky Barnes (bi).
posted by yasaman at 2:26 PM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


all that eyeliner was a dead giveaway
posted by The Whelk at 2:29 PM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hmph, Stony. If you don't believe in Steve/Bucky (and various configurations thereof), you don't believe in True Love! /goes back to reblogging endless cam gifs of CA:TWS
posted by lovecrafty at 3:06 PM on May 30, 2014


I'm confused by all of these attempts to justify the bisexuality of Marvel characters

does this mean that not everyone just assumes that all Marvel characters are bisexual by default, like Sims?

why
posted by NoraReed at 3:12 PM on May 30, 2014


For anyone interested, I'd recommend Steve Rogers, American Captain, a tumblr comic based on the conceit that Captain America is trying to deal with his future shock by drawing a regular diary comic in the style of American Splendor...
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:14 PM on May 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


Can somebody recommend the best arcs/collected editions? I've been told that the Ed Brubaker stories were particularly good.

A good way to get caught up on the classic Captain America is to sample the huge Essential collections, which starts with his sixties series in Tales of Suspense and collect some twentyfive comics in black and white. Early on it's very heavy on WWII adventures and anti-commie storylines and closer to the cliche you think off when you hear Captain America, later on you get Englehart and the Secret Empire and the high ranking government official in charge of them who I won't say was Richard Nixon, but it was Richard Nixon.

The Roger Stern/John Byrne trade paperback collecting their run is great as well, for essential late seventies Bronze Age Captain America, as is any of Kirby's seventies work on Cap. Kirby is just out there, while Stern and Byrne did some great adventure stories with Cap, rooted in that old Marvel Universe where of course it would be D.A. Tower briefing Cap about the threat a kidnapped Roxxon LNG tanker posed to New York, taken by Mr Hyde to not just hold the city to ransom but use it to kill off his ex-partner the Cobra once and for good, who'd just escaped Spider-Man the week earlier..

My favourite Cap however is the Mark Gruenwald Captain America, who started in Cap #308 and continued until the series was cancelled to make way for Liefeld's (ugh) version; he was the one who really set up Cap as the embodiment of America the country as opposed to America the state, getting him into the heartland of Reagan's America, being stripped of his uniform by a secret, shadowy Iran/Contra-esque government council, having supervillains band together not to take over the world but to form an union, having as its continuing theme that redemption is possible and having Cap actively involved with redeeming and helping his enemies.

I first started reading Captain America with the Bloodstone Hunt, which is basically an extended Indiana Jones kind of macguffin hunt, which flowed naturally in the Acts of Vengeance crossover, where various villains trade heroes to fight, which turned into Streets of Poison with Cap taking on the drugs trade and questioning whether his own history made him a junky and inbetween Cap went on his scariest mission ever: a date.

I don't actually like Brubaker's Captain America, well written though it is, for a number of reasons. First of course is the resurrection of Bucky who, like uncle Ben, should've stayed dead because that's the tragedy the modern Cap is build on, his survival when his best friend and comrade died, that he couldn't save him. Second it's that pseudorealism where it's all muted colours and spy thriller stories and Cap working for SHIELD or the government and, just no.

I just don't think Brubaker gets Captain America, in short.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:15 PM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hmph, Stony.

They are married in an alternate universe (in which Tony is Iron Woman).

But yeah, movieverse is Steve/Bucky all the way.
posted by chaiminda at 3:15 PM on May 30, 2014


oh my god I identify with everyone in that diary comic

EVERYONE

EVEN TONY

WHAT IS HAPPEN

answer: it is hormones and depression
posted by NoraReed at 3:33 PM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


My book* was Daredevil, and I always secretly yearned that the diabolically-themed vigilante would have more conflict with his Lady-Justice-blind lawyer alter ego, where the failures and successes of our legal system were hashed out

Daredevil recently lawyered his way into the most interesting secret identity in comics. The Daily Bugle printed a front page story revealing that Matt Murdock is Daredevil. That's true. Murdock then sued the newspaper for libel and won in the sleaziest way possible. The result was that everybody in New York knew Daredevil's secret identity but no one could legally do or say anything about it. Being a lawyer is a super-power.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:56 PM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Did Murdock move to the UK?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:57 PM on May 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


And man, I’ve got a lot of issues with the idea that queering Captain America means that the straights are done with him, so they’re giving him to the gays. What, straight people can’t enjoy a queer Cap? If people are so bigoted that they can’t relate to a character just because of their sexuality, why should I care about their feelings?

I don't think Capt. America should be gay, but not because it somehow tarnishes for straights. I want Capt. America to be straight because he represents the ultimate form of an ally to the dispossessed. Cap is an English-speaking, native-born, white, blonde, physically able, mentally able, cisgendered, heterosexual male. In other words, Cap is incredibly privileged in his raw demographics, yet represents not just a tolerance to the other, but an enthusiastic embrace for it. He has no personal need to protect minorities. As the Red Skull sometimes point out, he would be a great ubermench; he could fit perfectly into the Third Reich if he wished to. To see this Aryan superman side with the the enemies makes no sense to his Nazi foes; they generally categorize it as weakness and sentimentality instead of a iron commitment to his ideals and values.

Unlike the X-men who fight for their own acceptance and survival, Captain fights for rights and privileges that he already possesses. While the X-men represent minority groups struggles to gain these things, Captain represents the best of the broader society that can help open those doors. His commitment to justice is a message to gays that there are straights that will join them in the struggle and a message to straights that they have a responsibility to non-straights.

I'm not saying this very well, but I think that just as we need more gay and bi heroes, we also need more (and firmer) allies to those same gay and bi heroes and friends. Captain America is one of the oldest examples of this in comics, and I think he does best by being a lantern to both the privileged and the minority that both are instrumental to the pursuit of true justice.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 7:09 PM on May 30, 2014 [18 favorites]


Okay, you understand that argument would be a lot more convincing if there were already a bunch of queer A-listers and not already a bunch that could be considered allies, right? Even if I were going to consider ally representation a priority.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:28 PM on May 30, 2014


He has no personal need to protect minorities.

I disagree with this particular point in an otherwise excellent comment - Cap needs his Howlin' Commandos. Cap needs Natasha and Falcon, a woman immigrant and a black man. He's Captain America, and he knows he's part of something larger than himself - everyone comes along, no-one is left behind, not because he's some privileged elite into Noblesse Oblige, but because he will fail and die, and a lot of innocent people with him, if it's any other way.

"I'm from Fresno, ace."

The Fighting 442, moving heaven and earth to rescue obviously doomed compatriots, upset the Nazis almost as much as the Russian resistance at Stalingrad. They had made some serious misjudgments about the national character of the two most dangerous Allies.

See also: Black Panthers. (It's no coincidence Gabe was in a tanker's uniform.) Patton was a no-doubt-about-it racist, as all senior officers were required to be, and his racism was only overshadowed by his pragmatism. Quote:
Men, you're the first Negro tankers to ever fight in the American Army. I would never have asked for you if you weren't good. I have nothing but the best in my Army. I don't care what color you are as long as you go up there and kill those Kraut sonsofbitches. Everyone has their eyes on you and is expecting great things from you. Most of all your race is looking forward to your success. Don't let them down and damn you, don't let me down! They say it is patriotic to die for your country. Well, let’s see how many patriots we can make out of those German sonsofbitches.
The 761st made a lot of German Patriots.

This is the war Kirby understood, and thus the Captain America Kirby made, that Stan then built into an icon, and now we get to see on-screen.

Even if I were going to consider ally representation a priority.

Cap isn't an "Ally" - he just is. That's important.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:33 PM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Cap isn't an "Ally" - he just is. That's important.

Okay, but I've had two different people in this thread just make the argument that Captain America couldn't possibly be queer because it's too important that comics have another character that fights selflessly for others' rights - or the definition of ally representation. If I'm misunderstanding something, please let me know.

Again, I'd probably feel differently if there were another queer A-lister. Or if I didn't hear similar arguments about how it's wrong for their character of choice to be queer, or why a minority character couldn't possibly carry their own movie, no matter who the character is. But man, there's always an argument about why there should totally be one, just not that one.

And no, Steve Rogers isn't the Aryan Ubermensch - he just looks the part. He's been poor, he's been dependent on others, and he's definitely never been of German descent, as far as I know. He would still look the part even if he were queer. I can't imagine that anyone would have issue with him fighting for the rights of the poor, despite him knowing poverty. He's fought for superhero rights while being a superhero.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:38 PM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Captain America is just as much likely to fight against demographics that he belongs in than for them. Even in the Civil War arc, his was more than just fighting for Superhero rights, but trying to preserve a delicate sense of accountability and independence that superheroes needed, even if the results were sometimes messy.

Anyway, just as far as Steve Rogers go, independent of the Captain America, considering his long and positive history as THE ally in a lot of ways (against racism, homophobia, religious bigotry, sexism, etc.), I like the idea of Rogers as the righteous gentile character, not the member of the oppressed class but still unflinchingly accepting them. If there are other Captain Americas (and I think that goes without saying), I think it's fine for them to represent different aspects for the pursuit of justice—including membership in the more oppressed classes. I say this as my personal desire, which I know run counter to some.

He has no personal need to protect minorities.

I disagree with this particular point in an otherwise excellent comment - Cap needs his Howlin' Commandos. Cap needs Natasha and Falcon, a woman immigrant and a black man. He's Captain America, and he knows he's part of something larger than himself - everyone comes along, no-one is left behind, not because he's some privileged elite into Noblesse Oblige, but because he will fail and die, and a lot of innocent people with him, if it's any other way.


I should have clarified. I meant that Captain America isn't fighting for his own survival in the same way as the X-Men or the Hulk is. He's not waiting for the other shoe to drop like Spider-man is. He doesn't have the physical skin in the game that some other, more oppressed superheroes have. His battle and his constant siding with the weaker vs. the stronger is not born out of survival but because he cannot think of himself in any other way. He doesn't think twice about fighting against racism or homophobia or totalitarianism because that's the nature of his soul, not because he's fighting for his own life. Captain America is someone who has claimed the tired, the poor, the huddled masses because if they are crushed, he could not live with them being crushed without him. In other words, his union—like that of the US—is one of adoption, not of bloodlines or singular origin. His is proof that unlike can ally with unlike to form something like.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 10:44 PM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Again, I'd probably feel differently if there were another queer A-lister. Or if I didn't hear similar arguments about how it's wrong for their character of choice to be queer, or why a minority character couldn't possibly carry their own movie, no matter who the character is. But man, there's always an argument about why there should totally be one, just not that one.

I think you've just touched upon what also has been disturbing me so much about the "controversy" concerning both Miles Morales as Spiderman and Michael B. Jordan being cast as Johnny Storm in the F4 reboot--the idea that these characters are somehow sacred and untouchable; their sexual orientations and races/ethnic backgrounds are part of the core essence of who they are, that they must remain white and male and heterosexual, and these facts cannot, in a world riddled with crazy retcons, be changed, lest we contradict what we've "known" about them for years. "Don't touch the classic characters." OK. Which ones are "classic"? All of them?

Cap is an English-speaking, native-born, white, blonde, physically able, mentally able, cisgendered, heterosexual male.

Excepting the "blonde" part in some cases, you've also just described Batman, Spiderman, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Hulk (mentally able but not stable), Professor X (until his accident), 3/4 of the Fantastic Four, Cyclops, Iceman, Gambit. Excepting the "native-born" part, you've also described Superman, Thor, Wolverine, Colossus, and many, many others. All of the big names. Practically everyone. Many have the added bonus of being ultra rich too.

The story of someone from a position of (sometimes extreme) privilege fighting to protect an oppressed group's rights, without ever actually seeing any of the experience from the point of view of someone in the oppressed group itself, has been absolutely done to death and not just in comics (comparable to the White Man's Burden trope).

I guess part of this is my own personal desire to see it happen, but I think it would be great if a character with as much history and on an upswing of popularity as Captain America were to out himself. It'd certainly be a bold move, ahead of its time, in the same vein as the linked article. Compare it to sports: it's one thing for an athlete on the brink of retirement with nothing to lose to come out, and another for someone just starting their career who could go down quietly before making it to the bigs, but someone at their peak, a headliner who isn't so easily dismissed, and who you can't "hide the kids" from? Unprecedented.
posted by jpolorolu at 1:42 AM on May 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


There is no way that Cap being bi would be more of a major change in his story than bringing Bucky back was.

I see the 'Cap has to be privileged' argument but it's possible to make a similar one for every A-lister.

And I just want to counter it with: imagine how great the Avengers being supportive would be. The supportive friend relationships in the MCU is one of the major strengths of the movies, and it would be great to watch them help their friend out dealing with any backlash. Nat especially.
posted by NoraReed at 2:55 AM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also, I just think that Steve Rogers is so damn forthright that he's not the type to not out himself immediately. When asked about his support for more controversial groups, Captain doesn't hem or haw. He just states it as it is (compare to other characters who are more of the, "You have a point, but can you tone it down a bit.") I just feel that if Captain were gay or bi, everyone would already know because Captain wouldn't make any bones about it.

I think you've just touched upon what also has been disturbing me so much about the "controversy" concerning both Miles Morales as Spiderman and Michael B. Jordan being cast as Johnny Storm in the F4 reboot--the idea that these characters are somehow sacred and untouchable.


I actually am a huge supporter of Miles Morales and the race-bending, gender-bending, and sexuality bending of most of the A-listers. I'm not as much of a fan of the retconning of backgrounds (Nick Fury style), and more like someone different to take on the mantle (Miles Morales or John Stewart) that can offer an entirely different story. The only problem, admittedly, is that some knucklehead always wants to bring back the "classic" version of the Flash, Green Lantern, etc., which means that the minority character gets eclipsed by the 50's white guy version again.

So, I suppose that it's less about Captain America being untouchable and more about Captain America representing the very real duties of privilege in the fight for justice. I totally think some of the other Avengers need being re-imagined. Tony, I think, could have a story arch outing him as bi. Nick Fury, I can easily seen being gay, which would be great, as there are very few gay, black men portrayed in comics, especially in leadership positions.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 7:35 AM on May 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


I want Capt. America to be straight because he represents the ultimate form of an ally to the dispossessed. Cap is an English-speaking, native-born, white, blonde, physically able, mentally able, cisgendered, heterosexual male.

I think you missed something important. He went through childhood chronically ill and was frequently bullied for it. He's not an ultimate ally who's privileged in every respect, he's someone who was bullied and now hates all bullies.

"This is why you were chosen. Because the strong man who has known power all his life may lose respect for that power, but a weak man knows the value of strength, and knows...compassion."
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:53 AM on May 31, 2014 [6 favorites]




hey, you know what Kate Bishop drives?
posted by NoraReed at 5:54 PM on June 13, 2014


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