I don’t usually write about superhero comics, or add my two cents to the internet outrages, controversies, and speculations that the comic book industry produces like Campbell’s makes soup, but I think this might be a good time to make an exception. Biff Bam Pop! readers may know that I’m something of a Captain America fan from my two-part look at Cap and historical memory, which you can read here and here. What you may not know is that these days, the only comics I collect are Our Army at War/Sgt. Rock, and Captain America. Those are the only two titles that will never be sold and replaced with trades, or donated to a library book sale, or whatever, that I bag and board using archival materials, and that I occasionally take Smaug-like glee over just possessing. I also occasionally like to take a pile of them out of their bags and curl up and binge-read them, reveling in the smell of old comics, looking at the ads, old-school lettercols, back matter, backup stories, etc. – you know, enjoy them as comic books.
Biff Bam Pop’s It’s All Connected – Just a Kid from Brooklyn: Captain America, American Memories of World War II, and the MCU, Part II
In the first part of this essay, I briefly sketched the construction of American memories of World War II that began slightly before the war and continue into the 21st century. In many ways the war has become a defining part of American identity, and the dominant, triumphal memory narrative we have created about it serves to elevate American participation in the war almost to the level of the sacred, and certainly to the realm of the simple black and white, good v. evil duality that is much more comforting than any messy and contradictory reality might be. The character of Steve Rogers/Captain America is one of the more perfect cultural artifacts to illustrate this process of memory construction, and the ways in which counter-memories, which challenge the dominant narrative, inevitably influence the national mythology.