CV's Roundtable User Discussion 019 - Spotlight: Captain America

Hello, and welcome to another user Roundtable discussion. This is a concept brought to Comic Vine by the genius mind of sora_thekey, who thought it would be a good idea to stir up conversation. This is the 18 such Roundtable discussion, so it’s fair to say that sora is a genius! And if you wish to catch upon any of the older discussions, then please click here.

No Caption Provided

I'm xerox-kitty (still standing in for sora_the key) and welcome to another of Comic Vine's innovative Roundtable user discussions! Any new-comers, please feel welcome to comment below, whether you agree with us or not. After all, the whole point of this is to drum up discussion ;)

Today I'm joined by experienced Roundtablers; Emperor Gonzo Noir (Emp), SC (SC ;) & RazzaTazz (Razza)! How are you all today?

Emp: I'm Emp Gonzo and when I throw my mighty shield it comes back because of magnetic fields... or something like that ;P

SC: Hi, I am SC and I am good thank you xerox-kitty! I hope everyone else is good too!

Razza: I am good, the heat and humidity sitting over top of most of North America won't get me down.

Wonderful! But now I'm worried about Emp's secret identity!

As per usual, we'll start with what good comics you've read recently?

Emp: Another week of no new comics for me. I have been re-reading James Robinson's Starman series. Why? Because it's damn awesome.

SC: Oh, hmm, I read a bunch of Fear Itself and Flashpoint tie ins. I just literally finished reading the Wonder Woman tie in, I brought Footnotes in Gaza and was going to try and start that tonight. Also caught up on Lil Depressed Boy which is a indie title. Oh, and can't wait to read Avengers Academy and X-Factor!!!!!!! All those were pretty good (or will be good)

Razza: Well I recently finished my big project to read and review every single issue of Wonder Woman going back to the 1940s, and I finished off with some of the best issues at the end of volume 2. Also since then I have been a bit of a free agent, but I latched onto the Stark Resilient story arc (Iron Man) and the For Tomorrow story arc (Superman). Also read a cute issue of Archie and Friends yesterday, where the gang goes to a comic book convention.

SC: That was amazing accomplishment RazzaTazz! Have DC sent you your free T-Shirt yet?

Razza: Free t-shirt? You mean free Wonder Woman costume!

Captain America In The Spotlight
Captain America In The Spotlight

A mighty accomplishment RazzaTazz! You truly are our #1 Wonder Woman expert!

So for this Roundtable we're going to focus on one character. With the movie about to come out we'll be talking about the "First Avenger". You know who, right?

SC: Hank Pym? Or Wasp maybe? She did come up with the name? Iron Man and Thor and Hulk already had movies... so First Avenger? Has to be Pym or Wasp... has to be...

Razza: Yes I recognize it, I think both Emp and I were on that one. The Caped Crusader?

Emp: Captain America: Proving steroids and sweet magical science rays are the answer to all of life's problems since 1941.

First Cap/steroid joke of the day. Woot!

Ha ha! You got it! This is the 2nd Roundtable to spotlight a character, and this time it's Captain America. Sorry Razza but I'm going to pick on you... Who is Captain America?

Razza: Steve Rogers, whose military background is portrayed differently at times, but basically signs up for a secret project which turns him into a super soldier. Then goes the pretty typical plot line of Super Soldier fights Nazi, super soldier gets frozen in ice, and then super soldier gets awoken by Norse god. Oh wait, that's not a very typical plot line.

Mmm... Norse Gods. Uh, I mean, great! Do you guys like Cap? What are your thoughts on him?

Defensive To Offensive; The Indestructible Shield
Defensive To Offensive; The Indestructible Shield

Emp: I like Cap well enough. I could probably tell someone uninformed about him quite abit.

Razza: I generally like the genius Marvel scientific genius characters more and tend to not like the government stories and characters as much, but of the few issues of Avengers and CA that I have picked up, I have always liked the character, though maybe not enough to read all the time.

SC: I am impartial to Captain America. Well, I mean, I like him, I think he provides a nice balance to a lot of Marvel's other characters, but there are a lot more characters I like more than him. I am also not fond of aspects of any character that seems to hold a certain exclusivity as far as defining character traits go... with Cap, that's sort of his ability to inspire and lead and be righteous. I mean, that's great, but I think quite a few characters should be allowed to have those traits in high concentration as well. I dislike that most of Marvel's heroes were sitting around on their hands, with Green Goblin in charge that they had to wait until Steve woke up from his death to take charge. Back to appreciating the character? His is nice, tries hard and tries hard to do the right thing, by his friends, and country. Admirable traits!

I see myself as sort of in the middle but more to the pro side of the character. So... like... but not love.

He's not a personal favourite, but I've admired his character many times.

Gumption Powered Hero
Gumption Powered Hero

Let’s talk about his powers. Unlike Superman, Cap can't fly or shoot lasers from his eyes, yet he is still a "super" hero. What is it that makes him so Super?

Razza: Hmm, well I think it is so much more of the man behind the costume than anything else. Of course he is enhanced in so many ways, but it is his very human willpower and ideals which set him apart from others.

Emp: Good old American gumption and a can do/never give up attitude. That and super strength, speed, durability, accuracy, stamina etc, etc. Oh and an "indestructible" shield.

SC: He is like Hulk Hogan, combined with Bruce Lee, combined with Michael Jordan, combined with GI Joe. All amazing real life people. Like a Frankenstein with the American flag wrapped around him. Now, like all those people I mentioned, individually pretty much pushed the limits of what the human body could do (well... kinda) Captain America is super because he is like all of those people (speed, strength, durability, fight skill, toughness, leaping... ability) all packed into one blond dude! Also super inspiring powers and... leadering capabilities...

SC: Oh yes, the shield, that's probably important to mention as well. Its pretty nifty.

So he’s a man above all others! But every man has his weaknesses, and back in the 60's every Marvel hero had a weakness (Thor couldn't be away from Mjolnir for too long, Iron Man had the world's fanciest pacemaker, etc). What weaknesses does the Sentinel of Liberty have?

Emp: He was a man out of time. He couldn't really relate to the world of today. Of course with current versions of Cap, it's far more extreme but still.

But he's been in the present day for approximately 50 years worth of publishing. Doesn't he have any more recent issues that hound him?

Super Muscles, But Not Bulletproof
Super Muscles, But Not Bulletproof

Emp: Nope. That's all I can recall. I think at one point the super soldier serum was failing him.

Razza: I would say he is particularly susceptible to being assassinated. He is essentially just a man, sort of like Batman.

SC: I think Cap's weakness... is that sometimes, he cares too much! He is too inspirational and uhm... okay no, I think possibly his weakness is to find ways to test the character, from a personality point of view. I mean, there is the man out of time aspect, but he is also wearing a flag on his chest, and that sort of by its nature brings in politics and the government and patriotism and symbolism and morality and... of course, there is also the fact he's not particularly a huge physical powerhouse, so I am not sure he needs as big a crux as the other two characters.

Emp: That's so true, SC. He's got that ideal of "Being Captain America" to live up to.

Razza: I’m not so sure if the wearing of the flag on his costume and shield is such a burden, it never seemed to bother golden and silver age Wonder Woman.

SC: Computers! Myspace and Facebook. That's his real weakness. Cap can't even use a Mac. For Odin's sake, someone please teach him to use Twitter!

Color TV freaks him out as well I would guess.

I doubt he could see his own movie. Would be too real so to speak. It’s a good thing it’s not in 3-D... those are big weaknesses I forget to mention...

So his powers never let him down, but as a man his mind, heart and moral-compass are what really keep him going. What do you think of the Super Soldier Serum? Was it a handy way of turning a weedy little guy with a heart of gold into a National hero, or with the current anti-drugs awareness, is it out-dated? And... Would you go through the Super Soldier process?

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Emp: It was a simple way to make a man mountain out of a mouse. It can be misconstrued as "steroids are good" of course. It may not have aged that well but I wouldn't go so far as to call it outdated. I'm might go though the super soldier process as long as I wasn't drawn by Rob Liefeld.

Razza: I do think it is outdated, but more in the campy Frankenstein monster type of science way as opposed to be seen to be promoting steroid use. I do think it was an easy concept at the time because it is sort of an easy solution to a character origin, but still at the time people still believed that it was perfectly ok to just ingest whatever it is that you found in a laboratory petri dish. This is after all how LSD was discovered.

As for using the process on myself? I see myself more as a Black Widow type, so I probably wouldn't go for it.

SC: As for the Super Soldier Serum? I tend to chalk it up to the era that produced Captain America. Less PC times you see. I mean, back then Tobacco was good for your gums and made you live longer! LOL, okay, well just yeah. It was say a bit more grounded than say aliens and fish men, but still essentially distinguished Cap as unique to the character's around him. Plus the idea that you have a character that's all heart and pure of heart but just lacking physically, suddenly not lacking so much physically anymore... serums just would have, I think been viewed with more innocence and less cynicism.

I think, yes, I would probably go though... well it depends? I can be a better person and do better things with it, in my current life. I can't imagine getting it for nothing though, so I'd probably decline, or be cautious... I'd definitely be okay without it as well. Better candidates than me as well for sure. I’d rather see EMP, X-K, or Razzy with it! (if y'all wanted it)

Razza: It is an interesting question, how steroid use is good in heroes (CA and Hourman for instance) but bad in villains (Bane)

Good point! So ultimately it's WHO takes the serum that determines whether they become a hero or a villain :)

Emp: Back then? Nicotine still makes you live **coughs** *Doubles over and hacks up something black* ahem, live longer.

SC is breaking into the world of Black Market Super Soldier Serum dealing! No wonder Cap over-dosed & ended up with large lady lumps! ;)

Well, you guys mentioned MySpace so we'll talk about his Allies. Who have been his closest friends?

Stark Naked
Stark Naked

Razza: Tony Stark, SHIELD and the Carter women

Carter women? Not woman?

Razza: Didn’t he have both Peggy and Sharon at his side?

Ah, I didn't realise that Peggy was a Carter as well as Sharon :)

Razza: Is the aunt of Sharon I think

Emp: Oh Nick Fury, of course! I mean c'mon they're war buddies.

I Wish I Knew How To Quit You!
I Wish I Knew How To Quit You!

SC: Captain America rode a horse with a naked Tony Stark, I'd say that makes them pretty close? At least as far as I like to think I am close with all the naked men I ride on horses with? Or is that just an SC thing?

Bucky, Sharon Carter, Rick Jones, Falcon, Iron Man (off and on Bromance; See Civil War) and Thor seem like the type that would shout him a beer and send him a Birthday card? Am I forgetting anyone... Dum Dum Dugan? Diamondback... maybe... Nick Fury?

Stark naked Stark?? I had NO idea they went Brokeback Marvel! I guess that explains why their differences during Civil War were so personal ;)

Brokeback Avengers
Brokeback Avengers

SC: Oops, now I just feel horrible, and like a liar, Iron Man runs away from a dragon naked on a horse and rides a horse naked, then is saved by Steve who helps him find his armor, and then they ride a horse together... not as saucy as I made it seem originally... I think... or maybe not as weird as I made it sound... or both.. lol

Still sounds kinky when you describe it! ;)

Steve & Bucky; Captains Of America
Steve & Bucky; Captains Of America

There's also the other Captain Americas. The most recent was his old WWII buddy, Bucky Barnes! When we talk of Captain America we always think of Steve Rogers, but what do you think about the other Caps?

Razza: This is another area in which CA is similar to Batman. There have been others, and some have served the role admirably, but to make an analogy, no matter how well Daniel Craig acts as James Bond (or how attractive he looks), James Bond will always be Sean Connery first. Steve Rogers is CA (just like Batman is Bruce)

U.S.Agent Taking Down Villains Single-Handed
U.S.Agent Taking Down Villains Single-Handed

Emp: I thought Bucky Cap was great. Shame about him being offed like that. I've usually been a fan of the U.S. Agent though, like him more now as the warden of the Raft though.

SC: Oh, I am a huge U.S.Agent fan (John Walker) also a huge Bucky fan as well *looks around wondering what we can say here* Oh, andAmerican Dream seems pretty cool as well! I would guess Hayden is a fan? (American Dream is like future Cap) I am a fan of Isaiah Bradley and his story as well. Is it okay if I prefer most of these characters a bit more than Steve? It’s not that I prefer flawed characters, it’s that writers are much better at conveying flawed characters, at least to me. Only really good writers can write a good Steve Rogers!

Emp: Oh man! I'm ashamed I forgot mention Isaiah Bradley! Or his son Josiah X. Would Patriot count as a Cap or a Bucky?

Rikki Barnes too, I liked her, she had moxie.

It's agreed then, all Captain Americas are good but none as great as Steve Rogers.

Now we'll move on to his enemies. Everyone knows Red Skull is Captain America's Nemesis. Yet it wasn't Red Skull who managed to do the unthinkable; kill Captain America! So how effective is the Red Skull? And what about Cap's other enemies?

Batroc Defeats Captain America With The Power Of Moustache!
Batroc Defeats Captain America With The Power Of Moustache!

SC: I like Batroc, but Red Skull, and MODOK, and Arnim Zola, I never really liked in any real sense... they seemed kinda... nyeh. Oh, love Zemo though! For me, Cap is one of those characters that I am okay with reading him taking on just tons of generic bad guys. As opposed to having an opposing villain. Black and white character equals black and white villains. I mean, you can add a bit of depth to a Magneto or Doom, but Hitler? Nah, he's the bad guy, knock em in the jaw, and then ten goons run in and Cap deals to them. Then again, I am not a huge Cap fan, so maybe the appeal of some of his traditional foes is lost on me.

Emp: Two of my favorite villains Baron Wolfgang von Strucker and Baron Helmut Zemo.

Red Skull is one of Cap's more effective foes, he did sorta kill him for 4-5 real world time (like a year in Marvel Time).

Strucker has the honor of being one of his longest surviving foes and Helmut has the honor being the guy behind the siege at Avengers Mansion where all of Cap's wartime memorabilia got trashed, Oh and Jarvis was hospitalized but that's not important.

Of course who could forget his true nemesis, his greatest antagonist the man who very name sends cap in fits (of laughter) Batroc Ze Leaper!

Baron Helmut Zemo Doesn't Need A Red Skull With His Purple Mask
Baron Helmut Zemo Doesn't Need A Red Skull With His Purple Mask

Razza: CA has it easy in a sense, because of his ties to the Second World War he has access to some of history's greatest villains for his antagonists. Red Skull is a pretty mean villain, almost a personification of evil intelligence. The other Captain America villains don't really stand out to me, probably because he is as well known for his time with the Avengers as in his own comic.

Razza touched on the next question; is Cap a better hero as the leader of a team (whether it be the Avengers or Invaders) or is he just as good as a solo hero?

Emp: He's good both ways. Of course he's more effective as a leader of men (and women).

Razza: I think leadership is a hard to define concept. A lot of people assume that leadership takes the form of just yelling at people at getting them to do what they want for you. I think in terms of Captain America though, he has a natural leadership wherein he wouldn't order you to do something, instead you would be scrambling trying to keep up with him charging ahead. That is to say I think Captain America as he is portrayed may be the best leader in all of comic books. So I personally like him more as the leader of a team as opposed to doing stuff on his own.

SC: I read him usually in a team context, and because I like some of his team mates more than him, I usually enjoy those stories more... but not because of Cap. For that reason I could suggest I find him a better solo character. At least to me potentially so. Unless we are just talking Steve Rogers. I have enjoyed his stint in Secret Avengers where he is not Cap. Oh and actually scratch that, I enjoy him in Invaders... better team dynamic I feel. Chemistry! Avengers is tricky, so many different rosters, I am rethinking my answer lol Hmmmn.

Age Of X: Lethal Justice
Age Of X: Lethal Justice

There's a lot of respect for Captain America, from his team-mates and readers alike. But what about the other realities? Do you have any favourite alternate versions of Captain America? Ultimate, Zombieverse, Earth X, 1602, Age of Apocalypse, etc...

SC: Age of X Captain America... lol ;)

The All-American Dream
The All-American Dream

Razza: I guess I don't really know many of them, the only one I read (which is sort of alternate reality) is the previously mentioned American Dream. I do like her though, and it is always interesting to see a male hero reinvented as a female one.

SC: What did you think of the merged Captain America and Superman character RazzaTazz? Maybe he might count too? Wouldn't it be horrible if that character ended up with the Amalgamated Wonder Woman and Storm character... *smile*

Viva Girl Power! ;)

Ultimate Cap, Seeing Red
Ultimate Cap, Seeing Red

Razza: Oh yes the Amalgam stuff, that was all right, but as you pointed out so much of Amalgam was kind of disappointing.

Emp: I like Ultimate Cap quite a bit, he's a bit more morose about the man out of time thing (all his friends are either dead or old) and he's a bit of a jerk too(Not a fan of the french or non-English speaking folks). Though he has bad-assery in spades(fighting super strong aliens Nazis, impaling his evil son on the nose of a fighter jet.).

SC: Oh, Ultimate Cap, reminded me of Nextwave Cap, because I remember Nextwave was a bit fuzzy at some point continuity wise... Nextwave Cap was awesome...

1602... What's The Rest Of Your Phone Number?
1602... What's The Rest Of Your Phone Number?

Personally, I loved 1602's Rohjaz. Long blond hair, protected young Virginia Dare, he loved his country to the very end and the long blonde hair...

Emp: Blond hair, tan skin, shirtless. I know why you like so much, XK. lol

Don't forget the muscles & sense of loyalty... but it's the muscles & hair that really do it for me ;)

So what do you think makes regular Captain America so iconic?

Razza: I think really having the name to tie into and the fact that so many comic readers are American is pretty convenient. Still there is more to the character than just his costume. I think is a sense Captain America sort of represents a link to a time gone by, when people still square danced and when apple pies really were made every Sunday night. He is sort of like a representation of the world we think our grandparents lived in, even if it is not always entirely accurate. With that connection comes a different set of norms and morals which are sometimes seen as traditional. I think this all appeals to people in a certain way.

Pow! Right In The Kisser!
Pow! Right In The Kisser!

As a non-American I can say at times the American-ness of the character can be overdone. I have read my history and I paid attention in political studies classes. The America which he represents never really did exist, but it is still be fun to read.

SC: I think its a combo of things. RazzaTazz once did a wonderful blog all about Captains once, and how they are so frequent in comics, where other titles are not, I think that itself, combined with America, 'Captain America, his name', his look, his importance to comics as a medium and Marvel as well? The fact he punched Hitler, the fact he was in World War Two, his story of being rediscovered in a block of ice? Its really creates this strong and unique character, plus in a world full of super powered beings, given the right stories moments and writers? The guys who are the basic humans, just at the top? The olympic level type characters who have to rely on courage and heart and a bit of luck (or a indestructible shield) they can stick out by a fair degree, I mean, and it all adds up for a very potent combo.

Oh yes and the wholesomeness of the character. I agree with Razza as far as traditional values. Key part of the character (that can be fun when subverted and played around a bit too lol).

Nomad: Man Without A Fitting Shirt
Nomad: Man Without A Fitting Shirt

Razza: Its all right I write a lot of Wonder (Woman) blogs so I can understand the confusion, thanks for the plug though!

Emp: I think it might have to do with his never say die attitude and his dedication. He stands by his ideals even if it means not being Captain America to do it.

Like during his Nomad period Or at his moral outrage at property damage during Civil War.

Also the whole socking Hitler in the damn face might have something to do with his staying power.

Razza: Nomad looks like he belongs on a dance reality tv show.

SC: So You Think You Can Dance: Superheroes Edition?

Razza: Oh cool idea for fan fic!

It seems that it's his ideals that he represents that make him not just a hero, but an iconic hero.

Has anyone changed their opinion of Cap?

Emp: Nope, still like him, not a favorite but I'm sure he's a nice guy.

I don’t want to write an essay here, have to think about how to condense it

I always have had respect for the character, but I think as a Canadian he offers some interesting comparisons to the real world. The character can be brash and headstrong at times in terms of ideals, but inherently a lot of what he does keeps us safe.

American With International Appeal
American With International Appeal

SC: I used to be a lot more critical of Captain America. Certain characters in comics, I feel aren't written to be inspirational or moral, but instead the characters around them, are written to be idiotic, or flawed, in order to create the perception of the former character being a certain way. Superman, Captain America, and even in recent times, Cyclops, just.. yeah... the righteous and infallible, even when they are wrong, they are actually right type characters. So I was very critical. My view softened after I read a few key stories and now, I like to view Cap as a character carrying that perception as a huge weight on his shoulders, and see the nicer and less judgmental Cap is to other characters, the more I like him, and I have been reading more of that cap in stories and so... so yeah. I like him a lot more. I am sure the movie will help as well.

It's good news for Captain America that most of us non-Americans still find him accessible as a character!

Thanks for helping point the spotlight at the Star Spangled Avenger. But it's time to get out of uniform & back into our civvies.

First Vengeance
First Vengeance

Time to say 'goodbye' :)

Razza: Goodbye everyone, and I am only wondering when the eyes in the sky (the mods) will do a character spotlight on a female comic book character (I have one in mind)

Emp: I'm Emp Gonzo and I look forward to reading SC's Brokeback Mountain inspired Cap/Iron Man slash fic. If only for the lulz.

SC: Thank you for hosting xerox-kitty, and thank you my highly esteemed fellow RT people EMP and Razza! Thank you random people reading this!

Bye! Have fun seeing Cap on the big screen!

And I'm Captain xerox-kitty! Thanks for following us through this journey to discover truth, justice & the art of wearing primary colours in battle!