Monday, April 28, 2014

CAPTAIN AMERICA #250

"CAP FOR PRESIDENT!"
Story on Page Three By Roger Stern
Photography by John Byrne and Josef Rubinstein
Typography by James Novak | Special Color Section Inside by George Roussos
Commentary on Page 31 by Donald Perlin and Roger McKenzie
Plus "Our Back Pages" by E.J. Hannigan
City Editor: James Salicrup | Managing Editor: James Shooter

The Plot: After Captain America saves the headquarters of the New Populist political party from a terrorist takeover, the head of the party, Samuel T. Underwood, tries to convince Cap to run for president, even going so far as to plant a story in the Daily Globe to further influence the Sentinel of Liberty.

Cap then wanders New York, searching for his answer. He ultimately decides that he cannot serve both the American Dream and the office of the presidency at the same time, and declines the candidacy.

Continuity Notes: At the NPP headquarters, Cap is introduced to several World War II veterans. Even in 1980, it was not impossible for middle aged men to have served in the war. Sadly, this sort of scene, with relatively youngish men encountering Cap, is no longer possible. Someday soon, scenes where he encounters any living WWII veterans will be outside the realm of reality.


Josh finally gives Steve the letter he received "the other day", in issue #247. Josh and Steve then help Bernie move her belongings into the apartment building, after which Bernie begins a flirtation with Steve.


At Avengers Mansion, Beast assures Cap that he will carry the mutant vote. Cap consults with Iron Man, Wasp, and the Vision, and in a series of panels that I particularly like, each Avenger provides their insight into Cap's potential candidacy, as Cap, his back to the speakers, reacts so that only we readers can see his face. He seems somewhat disappointed when Iron Man points out the red tape he'd have to cut through to get anything done. He smiles when the Wasp tells him he will be the first president in some time to have the people's full respect and admiration... then he hangs his head when Vision bluntly points out that he simply isn't qualified to be president.


Further reactions come from a few "man on the street shots", plus quick check-ins with Nick Fury, Daredevil, Spider-Man, and Dr. Strange. Naturally, Spidey has Cap pegged just right. And does anyone else find it odd that Dr. Strange even follows presidential elections? You'd think that sort of thing would be beneath his concern.


There's also a funny bit where, at the Daily Bugle, Robbie Robertson asks J. Jonah Jameson if the Bugle will endorse Cap. Jameson seems unsure, almost as if he wants to, but points out what happened when movie stars started running for office. Robbie suggests that the natural conclusion, if heroes did likewise, could be Spider-Man for mayor, which sets Jameson firmly against Cap's candidacy.

My Thoughts: This is a really good issue. Stern explains in a text piece on the letters page that the story was born from an idea by Roger McKenzie and Don Perlin, while they were Cap's regular creative team, to have Cap actually win the presidency. Then-editor Stern rejected the idea, but Jim Shooter later suggested that writer Stern adapt the idea into a character piece explaining why Cap would not run for president.

The result is just that -- a story telling us why Captain America cannot lower himself to political office. Some of Stern's political messages in the issue are a bit ham-fisted, with lots of dialogue about voting, not voting, the responsibility of voting, and so on. But the message regarding Captain America, who he is, and why he would not, could not run for president is handled perfectly.

Cap is a symbol of freedom and a servant of the American Dream. To sully his hands with politics would damage his effectiveness as a symbol. There's no way the idealistic, strong-willed Steve Rogers could exist on Capitol Hill. His unwavering dedication to his mission would prvent him from accomplishing anything in a bipartisan environment. He even says multiple times throughout the issue that he's not political. He admits to not knowing who his congressman is, which I believe fits right in line with his character. Captain America is apolitical. He is about more than politics. Cap is not about Left and Right. He is about right and wrong. Nothing more, nothing less.

Which, incidentally, is why I didn't enjoy the latter part of Mark Waid's run on the character years later, where Steve Rogers went door-to-door campaigning for a candidate. That's not something Captain America would do. Strangely enough, I'm not even certain Captain America would vote. He probably does vote, because it's his right and privilege as an American... but I can't see him choosing one candidate over another in most situations, because no candidate could live up to his ideals.

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