The United States of Captain America is a thematic sequel to Falcon & The Winter Soldier

The Falcon(Captain America) & The Winter Soldier challenged what the WWII era hero represents in 2021, The United States of Captain America attempts to expand the character beyond Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson.



SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE UNITED STATES OF CAPTAIN AMERICA #1



From the first page of The United States of Captain America written by Christopher Cantwell & Josh Trujillo the disillusionment Steve Rogers has with the United States is apparent, or is it? This series has already been reviewed and critiqued by FOX News because inevitably anything with "United States" in the title is going to clash with the many different interpretations of what the country represents. Captain America has the burden of representing an entire country, to the world and the American people, which was simple when he began his tenure as a hero. WWII represented a unified time in American history, and perhaps 2021 could be seen as one of the most fractured ideological climates since the U.S. Civil War. So, what does captain America represent when even Steve Rogers thinks the American dream isn't what it used to be and there's an American lie to contend with as well?

Steve's interpretation of the American Dream implies a bias toward greater equity in the United States of America. In fact, Cantwell & Trujillo have Steve assert that when the American Dream is not "shared" it becomes the "American Lie". Now, I really don't want to wade into the politics of this book, but it cannot be denied that the American sentiments that all men are created equal and of liberty and justice for all do not contradict the more evenly distributed American prosperity that Steve uses to define the American Dream. Perhaps Steve's perspective is too idealistic? If you feel that's the case then I would argue that it's supposed to be. Captain America is a character that doesn't actually represent America, and he never has. Captain America has always represented what America can be when held to the principles it stands for. The first few pages of exposition begin establishing these themes before identifying what characteristics Disney wants its audience to begin identifying with Captain America in the years to come. The MCU and by extension Marvel Comics has become critical content the House of Mouse will want to continue to reinvent over the years to fit that ever expanding definition of America and the American Dream.

Now that we've covered the political overtones of the issue can we all please just take a moment to appreciate how serious Steve looks as he casually hops on his steampunkmobile and peels out? Classic.


It appears Marvel is going to be creating a thematic foil for Steve and possibly the Captain America mantle at large. I'd put my money on this being Hydra Steve Rogers from Secret Empire, but only time will tell. Either way, both Marvel Comics and the MCU seem to be posing the question, what about Steve Rogers represents America? What does America represent, and who is Steve if neither of those questions can be properly answered? Can all of America be represented by a single person?

I can almost see how the writers could have added a bubble having the villainous Cap pose those questions to Steve right through his malicious smirk. The scene is over as quickly as we see the villain's face. Eaglesham and Bazaldua capture the pace of the scene by portraying fractured images skewed across the page just as the situation literally begins to go off the rails. The fortunate thing for the reader is that Cantwell and Trujillo have already planted that seed that answers those questions when Steve discussed the two American Dreams along with the American lie. When Steve asserts the American Dream is a culmination of individuals who "Reach", Cantwell and Trujillo invoke a nostalgia of American Exceptionalism while Eaglesham and Bazaldua reference historical progress using imagery that harkens to the suffrage, civil rights, and labor rights movements.


However, the American Dream is not solely made up of exceptional individuals who achieve historical feats, or else it would simply be a dream with nothing particularly American about it. According to Steve, the America Dream is made of individuals who achieve great things while also laying themselves "Bare". Individuals who are able to create change in society, as well as in our hearts and minds. I believe Cantwell and Trujillo are conveying that it is the ability to instigate societal change as well as institutional change that encapsulates the American Dream and that in American history that dream has been personified by people from many walks of life.

Enter Arron Fischer, who is in the wrong place at the wrong timer, or more accurately, he is in the right place at the right time wearing the wrong red, white, and blue attire. After all, Cap just watched his imposter derail a train, so of course he tackles the unsuspecting Arron to the ground even though he's just "tryin' to help". When Arron, unmasks himself we see a handsome young man who identifies himself as LGBTQ+ individual and implies he is from Missouri. Arron it turns out looks out for runaways and strays that end up as vagabonds, or as Aaron tells it, he just "ride(s) the rails". Here's where I would say something about Cantwell crafting Arron out to be the Woody Guthrie Captain America but Sam already said it himself.

So, Cantwell and Trujillo are drawing upon American tropes, such as the beat generation, and Guthrie's addition to American culture as well. In this case, Guthrie's appropriately named song, This Land is Your Land, compliments the themes being presented so far in this book that Captain America, the American People, and the American Dream wear many different faces. Arron is a testament to that theme in United States of Captain America #1. My take is that the writers and illustrators at Marvel Comics working on this book are portraying their "Dream" for America. An America where no matter where you go and who you are, in the United States of America there is a Captain America that shares your life experience and will be there to save you. Everyone in America can be Captain America if they strive to be. This book begins with Steve saying his American Dream is made of people who "Reach" and leave themselves "Bare", who "did it without serums or powers" and ends with us meeting an individual who meets that description.

Arron goes on to explain to Steve and Sam that he has a deep reverence toward Captain America. Sam in particular has Aarons admiration it seems, as he calls him out by name and the portion of the issue covering Aarons origin story includes an image of him looking up to a painting of Sam Wilson as Captain America. I find it interesting that the illustrators chose to put Sam, rather than Steve here because to me it implies that anyone can be Captain America, and Sam was the first in modern comic history to prove that fact. Aaron also informs Steve and Sam that there are many more Captain Americas all across the nation just like him. Then within moments of introducing this new network of vigilantes Cantwell and Trujillo have Arron narrowly escape an assassination attempt. After Aaron is safe and the assassin escapes Sam and Steve resolve to visit the remaining Cap vigilantes across the nation, find out who is targeting them, and retrieve the shield from the evil and unnamed Captain America imposter still at large.

The first issue of this book then ends with a nod to the expanding definition of Captain America given the recent release of The Falcon and Winter Soldier. When Sam calls Steve "Cap", he's calling him what he always calls him, but when Steve responds with calling Sam "Cap", it's clear the definition of Captain America has already evolved since it was initially created. I'll leave you to decide if you think the American Dream has evolved since its inception. Nonetheless, the creators of The United States of Captain America will without a doubt be expanding upon the Captain America mythos throughout this run with a new and diverse assortment of characters taking up the mantle, and I cannot wait to see where they go!



The United States of Captain America #1, The United States of Captain America, by Cantwell and Trujillo, and illustrated by Eaglesham and Bazaldua, Marvel Comics, 2021


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