Captain America Vs. the Tea Baggers

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Captain America graphic novel Two AmericasThere's potent political allegory in superhero comics these days. In the graphic novel Two Americas, Captain America takes on a right wing extremist militia pretty clearly modelled on the Tea Party Movement. 

I'm boldfacing certain terms to get you used to the convention which is used in the comic book dialogue I'll quote below.


cap and buckyA bit of backstory: Steve Rogers, the original Captain America, and his sidekick Bucky fought the Nazis in WWII. Bucky died, Cap crashed into the North Pacific, staying frozen in a block of ice until the Avengers revived him in the 90s. A 2007 initiative required all superheroes to register with the government and work for them. Captain America went underground and led a rebellion against this, in what was termed the Civil War, a story transparently referencing the Patriot Act, the war in Iraq and the HUAC witch hunts (tagline: Whose Side Are You On?). It ends, quite pointedly, with Cap surrendering to the authorities and being killed by an assassin.


Bucky resurfaces, having, it turns out, been rescued by the Soviets, brainwashed and kept in cryogenic sleep in between assassination missions throughout the Cold War. He regains his marbles, and takes up the mantle of Captain America.


the crazy cap, wondering what happened to "my america"Steve Rogers comes back to life (of course). Bucky remains Captain America. Steve's having adventures under his own name now.


So in Two Americas, Cap (Bucky) and his sidekick Falcon (a hero named Falcon)(not an actual falcon)(although the Falcon does have a falcon) find out about a group of right wing extremists ("the watchdogs") who've set up camp in Idaho, led by yet another version of Captain America, a crazy but powerful man, who sees the boarded up stores and factories across the USA and wonders "what the hell has happened to my America?"


Check out the signs in this scene of public protest that forms the backdrop to this story:tea party style protest signs


Bucky (in disguise as a trucker) attracts the notice of militia members by beating up and throwing the Falcon (a black man)(in disguise as an IRS agent) from a tavern, yelling "And don't forget your briefcase, Obama!" He infiltrates the camp under a false name, but the bad crazy Cap recognizes him and captures him, forcing him to wear his old Bucky costume as he brings him along in a plot to blow up the Hoover dam as a message to the country. Like a many a comic bad cap saying "this country's at war..."book villain, bad Cap gloats a lot, letting Ed Brubaker, the book's writer, explore the political background for this story arc.


Cap: See, you still don't get it, son… I didn't join up with the Watchdogs. They joined me. And there are a lot of other militia groups just like them living off the grid out there in the real America…

watchdog soldier expressing hatred for the government




and later:


Cap: You really don't see, do you? This country's at war, and most of you don't even know it. And I'm not talking about the Middle East, I'm talking about right here, in America.


Falcon, attempting to foil a parallel terrorist act of the Watchdogs (a train loaded with explosives set to blow up outside a Las Vegas hotel hosting a convention of government lobbyists) gets captured long enough to be similarly gloated at by a Watchdog soldier.


Watchdog Soldier: You're just another government stooge. Some fed who doesn't understand what's really goin' on...


Bucky and Falcon foil each plot, and Bucky's thoughts as he fights bad Cap in the story's climax summarize the political position expressed in the comic.


Bucky: But this guy, he started out with the best intentions. As a patriot. Wanted to be just like Cap an' me. To fight for what's right. But the chemicals that made him a super-soldier drove him crazy… Twisted him all around.  Turned him into a guy willing to use bombs to make a point.


Perhaps we can interpret the super-soldier formula that had enhanced and then corrupted bad Cap as America's own decades of prosperity and power, intoxicating so many of its citizens, driving them to extreme and unsympathetic views when the economy and infrastructure took a downturn, leading to regressive political and religious positions and a desperate drive to revive a previous America by any means, no matter who winds up under the heel.

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