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5 Things I Think I Know: Independence Day Edition

Written by ElijahSnowFan on Monday, July 04 2011 and posted in Columns

A special Holiday edition of Five Things from the intrepid and patriotic ElijahSnowFan.


The long-and-patriotic preamble.

Oh, yes, Faithful Reader. Make no mistake: "5 Things" knows exactly what day it is, and as someone who keeps it simple in the kinds of characters I like -- my Top 5 is, and likely always will be, Dick Grayson, Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, Clint Barton and one Steven Rogers -- and in honor of the nation's birthday, it seems appropriate to talk a little bit about Captain America...or more accurately, what he stands for. Right?

It doesn't get much more old-school than Captain America: Created in 1940, with the cover of the first issue of "Captain America Comics" showing a guy wearing a flag and carrying a shield giving Adolph Hitler a hefty dose of jaw-jacking...man, that is what it's all about.

No, seriously: That really is what comic books are all about.

Over the years, I've read way too many articles and movie reviewers who have watched a comic-book film who cling to the belief that comic books are "an adolescent power fantasy." That somehow, some way, reading comic books as an adult is some kind of indictment of the reader, some kind of negative. Some kind of character flaw.

I've always just shaken my head at that kind of thinking, because in my mind, nothing is further from the truth.

Why?

Because those who think that way, to my way of thinking, simply do not understand the spirit of adventure. The spirit of doing what's right simply because it's the right thing to do.

They don't understand that reading scripted heroism isn't a negative. That imagery and icons can inspire. They can provide entertainment and distraction from the problems of the real world, not a full-fledged entrance into another one.

I say this a lot, because it's true: There is no Krypton. There is no Invisible Jet. And while Patrick Stewart looks exactly like Professor Charles Xavier would look if there really was a Professor Charles Xavier, I feel fairly comfortable Stewart isn't reading anybody's mind right about now.

The millions of people who have read and enjoyed a comic book at some point in their lives know exactly the same thing as I do: In a world that is filled with gray, where it's really not easy to know who the good guys and the bad guys, it's simply refreshing to sit down for even a few minutes and watch a guy with a costume based on an American flag give somebody a smack because of the evil things they have done, are doing, or want to do.

See, there's a thin line between having a spirit of adventure and believing in "power fantasies." Those who believe in the former maybe played cops and robbers when they were kids, maybe played baseball or hide-and-seek with their neighborhood crew, then talked about who was stronger: Superman or the Hulk. Those are the kids who realized that while it's fun, and it can definitely be serious business -- Superman is stronger than the Hulk, in case you were wondering -- it's still just games and comic books.

The latter? Those were the kids who sat on the porch and wondered why anybody would want to run around when it was hot outside. The kids who got picked last at recess and were sour about it, who figured it must be some mental defect for adults to enjoy seeing Steve Rogers throw a shield hard enough to knock somebody the hell out.

It's not crazy, people. It's fun. It's entertainment. When you think too long about mainstream comic books, when you think too long about a character named "Captain America," then you start whining about how people can't solve problems by punching other people and there are no such things as Vita-Rays and that vibranium and adamantium can't be bonded together.

"5 Things" begs to differ, haters.

Fine: Vita-Rays aren't real. Neither is the Super-Soldier Formula. But the spirit of a character who is willing to sacrifice his life for a cause greater than himself is very real. It happens every day, and it's in so many people who do great things every day.

That's what Captain America is. It's not the character itself. It's not the comic book. It's what inside each person who believes, at some point, that they would also commit to a cause, a belief, for the greater good.

And for the nerds who don't like it or don't believe it? Well, those are the people who desperately need a quick backhand-with-a-shield, followed by a disapproving look, and finally, a quick comment of, "No, son...not this time."

So, in honor of Independence Day and one Steven Rogers/Captain America, "5 Things I Think I Know" is proud to present...the five things I love most about Captain America.

I hope, for those who care to comment, that you'll share your favorites, as well.

"5 Things I Think I Know," Independence Day Edition

5. There is nothing better on this earth, or any parallel earth, than a Captain America/Union Jack team-up: Come on, Marvel. You just aren't giving us nearly enough of those. Two of the most bad-ass costumes you have going. Two of the most kick-ass characters you have going. "5 THINGS" DEMANDS A FOUR-ISSUE CAPTAIN AMERICA/UNION JACK MINISERIES, FILLED WITH NOTHING BUT KICKING ASS. Christos Gage shall write it. And all will be well.

4. Speaking of Union Jack...: Am I the only one who remembers how Captain America, when deciding he'd had just about enough of that a-hole Baron Blood, decapitated his sorry Nazi/vampire arse with his shield? That's right, baby! It happened in Captain America #253 or so, back in 1980! Because you can only push Steve Rogers so far! I mention this because that was also the story that introduced the modern-day Union Jack, who, in case you were wondering, is also awesome.

3. There can never be enough "Invaders": Come on, people! The original Human Torch, the Sub-Mariner, and Captain America? THAT IS ALL KINDS OF AWESOME. Have you no soul? Throw in Bucky and Toro and...OK, AXIS! HERE WE COME! Why don't we have this book on the shelves every month? Bring back the Winter Soldier, Marvel! You can do it! This book would sell! (Well, at least I'd buy it.)

2. Iron Man needed the smack he got in "Civil War": I'm not saying that I agreed with every single thing that went down in that series, and I definitely didn't like much of what went down after it. And no, Tony Stark isn't a bad guy. But every once in a while, he's got just enough a-hole about him that you just want to see the Sentinel of Liberty give him a smack. Come on. It's been five years. You can admit it.

1. Other characters can wear the costume, but Steve Rogers is Captain America: Hey, don't get me wrong. There are all kinds of stories, good stories, that can be told when someone else is Captain America, and when Steve Rogers is in another role. You need to do that, from time to time, to keep the characters fresh. But make no mistake: Steve Rogers, the frail kid who desperately wanted to serve his country during World War II, is Captain America. There are two things in comics that will NEVER get old for me: Bruce Wayne wading into a room full of thugs, and Steve Rogers slinging his shield.

Why? Because I, for one, still have a spirit of adventure. I hope I always will.

Written or Contributed by: ElijahSnowFan

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