A trailer for the Captain America movie coming out in July. Two superheroes have managed to become symbols of the nation: Superman and Captain America. One of the first of the comic book heroes, Superman first appeared in 1938 and helped establish the whole concept of a superhero. “A strange visitor from another planet with powers and abilities far beyond those of a mortal man”, Superman was a hit from his first publication and rapidly achieved fame around the globe, as World War 2 GIs carried Superman comics with them throughout World War II.
Captain America was another favorite comic of American GIs. He first appeared in Captain America Comics #1 dated March 1941, which was actually on sale in December 1940. It told the story of Steve Rogers, a classic 98 pound weakling, but with the heart of a lion. A student of fine arts, he desperately wanted to fight for America in the war he saw coming against Nazi Germany, but was rejected by the Army due to his physical weakness. He was offered an opportunity to serve his country by volunteering to be a human guinea pig in an experiment by Dr. Josef Reinstein. Reinstein injected him with a formula that transformed him into a perfect human specimen: muscular, quick and agile. He was to be the first of many volunteers who would be injected with this “super-soldier” formula, but a Nazi agent who had infiltrated the project shot Reinstein to death, before being subdued by Rogers, and therefore he would be the one and only “super-soldier”. The first issue sold an astounding one million copies, an indication of just how popular Captain America would be with the American public. However, not all of the public. Writer Joe Simon and artist Jack Kirby also received hate mail and death threats from isolationists and Nazi sympathizers in the country. I guess Captain America punching out Hitler on the cover of issue # 1 was a clear indication of where Simon and Kirby stood as to the Third Reich. (more…)