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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #422

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Welcome to the four hundred and twenty-second in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous four hundred and twenty-one. This week, did Marvel really back out on making Ultimate Captain America black because of the response to their mini-series Truth: Red, White and Black? Plus, two legends involving Conan the Barbarian during the 1970s. First, did Marvel really cancel Conan after just seven issues? And finally, how did Roy Thomas get “revenge” on Neal Adams drawing a monster in an issue of Conan with a mouth that, well, evoked the genitalia of a woman?

Let’s begin!

NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).

COMIC LEGEND: Marvel decided not to make Ultimate Captain America black after seeing the response to their series Truth: Red, White and Black.

STATUS: False

Reader David A. wrote in a couple of weeks ago to ask:

I was thinking about something the other day that I thought you had covered but I did a search online and couldn’t find anything. Anyway, a few yeas ago seem to remember that at the birth of the Ultimate Marvel universe the plan was to make the Captain America of that universe African American. But because of the negative fan reaction Kyle Baker’s (Truth was it?) comic series that basically said that the first Captain America was a group of African American soldiers that were used as Guinea pigs for the super soldier serum before it was perfected. So the idea was scrapped and Ultimate Nick Fury was instead made African American. Bendis actually gave this a nod when in Ultimate Secret he revealed Fury was actually the first person to receive the super soldier serum.

Simply put, no, that’s not how it happened.

To wit, Truth #1 came out in December of 2002…

truth1

Ultimates #1?

ultimatecap

March 2002.

So no, Ultimate Captain America was not based on any sort of reaction to Truth.

Here, from an article in the Daily News by Jerome Maida about the release of Truth (which was a good series with amazing Kyle Baker art and a strong story from the late Robert Morales), Joe Quesada explains the REAL connection between Truth and Ultimate Captain America…

“We were in the process of creating this new line of Marvel Comics called the Ultimate line, which is sort of a re-envisioning of our Marvel superheroes,” he recalled, “and the idea of a black Captain America came out of that meeting.”

Marvel CEO Bill Jemas gets the credit, Quesada continued. “He just thought it was an interesting idea, because so much of America’s military is African-American. He just felt that it would only make sense that an African-American male would most likely be Captain America.”

Fiscal considerations scuttled the idea at first.

“We have so many companies that license out the image of Captain America, and that particular image of Captain America is of Steve Rogers, a white American male,” Quesada said. “So we couldn’t go in that direction with Cap.”

But Marvel wouldn’t let the idea die. Fan reaction was too strong, though it wasn’t necessarily positive.

“The first time I had heard [the idea],” said “Truth” editor Axel Alonso, “was when I heard what a response it had evoked from people on the Internet . . . 90 percent of whom were severely angry and uncomfortable with the notion of a black man in the Captain America outfit.

“From there, a common-sense question emerged, which is ‘Why would it make people uncomfortable?’”

And eventually that took us to Truth.

Thanks for the suggestion, David!
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Check out some Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed!

Was a Fictional Character Nominated for an Best Screenplay Academy Award?

Did Leonard Nimoy Request For Spock to Be Killed Off in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan?

Was a Shakespeare Expert Really Called in to Rule on the Genital Authenticity of a Statue of a Character from a Shakespeare Play?

Was Rodin’s First Major Sculpture Really Just a Plaster Cast of a Model?

Did Michelangelo Have a Prideful Response to People Doubting his Creation of the Pietà?
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

On the next page, was Conan really canceled after less than a year’s worth of issues came out?

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65 Comments

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I love that the caption calls the slug a “cyclopean, living mass” when it clearly has two eyes. Or two eye-stalks, at least…

“Cyclopean” doesn’t necessarily mean one-eyed. It can also mean gigantic or massive.

90% is a little strong and subsequently self-congratulatory.

During the 80′s and 90′s, Conan was still a big hit in Brazil, having two series at the same time, until it was canceled (i think) in the early 00′s. But the new stuff is still published whenever it comes out.

“Marvel CEO Bill Jemas gets the credit, Quesada continued. “He just thought it was an interesting idea, because so much of America’s military is African-American. He just felt that it would only make sense that an African-American male would most likely be Captain America.””

that logic is idiotic. yes, it’s like that NOW, but in WWII the black demographic was much, much smaller than today.

pre-civil rights, it would be much more likely that they would be used as guinea pigs because they were considered more expendable.

“Cyclopean” doesn’t necessarily mean one-eyed. It can also mean gigantic or massive.

Cyclopean literally means “one-eyed.” (Okay, it LITERALLY means “round”-eyed, but you know what I’m saying.) The dictionary agrees with you, but I’d never heard it used that way: however, there are plenty of adjectives that imply size without being the word people use when they mean something only has one eye…

Marilyn Merlot

June 7, 2013 at 10:31 am

True, percane, but that presumes Captain America would’ve been from WWII in the Ultimate line when they conceived the original idea.

H.P. Lovecraft used “cyclopean” in its dictionary sense a lot, and he was a huge influence on Howard. Roy is imitating the style of the sorts of magazines Conan stories used to appear in.

good point, Marilyn. did they originally imagine him being from a later era, say Vietnam (Korea still wouldn’t work for the same reason as WWII) or Gulf War?

the man out of time thing is such an integral part of his character, i can’t imagine captain america conceived as a modern day created super soldier personally.

Junior Herman

June 7, 2013 at 10:47 am

I would’ve loved to have seen a Black Captain America. I haven’t picked up a comic since the early issues of Spawn, last time I checked, Powerman was the last attempt by Marvel to give a Black superhero a try. His costume sucked, so I never gave it a chance.

I’ve been looking for a reason to like Cap, a Black Cap would’ve been it. Oh well, I see some things still haven’t changed, even in the 21st century. Sad as hell….

There’s another “comic book legend” inside the The Truth’s feature.

It’s a general idea that the series dealt with Black soldiers involved in a trial BEFORE the super-soldier serum was perfected. But this is WRONG.

If you really read the series (which is very critical and strong – that’s remarkable), you’ll see that those Black subjects were involved in a trial which intended to “redevelop” the super-soldier serum, which precise formula was lost when Dr. Erskine was shot dead.

So Steve Rogers was already acting as Captain America at that time, but the US Army wanted to obtain MORE super-soldiers like him.

Thus, in effect, The Truth happened AFTER the first Captain America experiment… and, therefore, Isaiah Bradley wasn’t the “first” Captain America.

The series harshly tells about racial segregation in the US by that time. Definitely not commercial (allied to Kyle Baker art style). But the iniatitive was laudable.

I strongly recommend this series to be read, not just speculated about.

Laurence J Sinclair

June 7, 2013 at 10:49 am

Cyclopean means ‘like a cyclops’. Which can be used to mean one-eyed, or really honking massive.

And what if….
Captain America was Asian?
Or Jewish?

“I’ve been looking for a reason to like Cap, a Black Cap would’ve been it. Oh well, I see some things still haven’t changed, even in the 21st century. Sad as hell….”

As your comment proves, a lot of people are still really hung up on race.

No way a WWII era could have been asian. even before we put them in internment camps after pearl harbor, they were considered second class citizens.

i’m not sure how bad jewish prejudice was during that era, i think a jewish captain america might have been accepted (superman was a sort of golem after all)

It was only an innocent idea.
Just imagine that Cap is Asian or Jewish.

There is this white / black talk, and people forget about the other possibilities.
Captain America could also be Arab, Latino, Slav, etc.

marvel should do some elseworlds graphic novels for this sort of thing. a native american cap would also be interesting

percane…IIRC…and maybe this will be a nice Urban Legends revealed (if it hasn’t already)…there was a point when Steve Rogers was going to resign and there would be a new Cap…the man known as Black Crow.

Instead someone at Marvel thought people wouldn’t like a Native American cap so instead they introduced Super Patriot (John Walker) who became Cap when Rogers resigned.

Hell yeah. A great idea. This is what lacks in mainstream comic books. Or maybe it is fear of moving out of confort zone.

To Junior Herman:
What is sad that you gave up comic books instead on enjoying them and promoting them to your friends as legitimate art. Unfortunately comics are still an unknown for many people.

It’s common to ask about your favorite movie, song, artist, book, play but not a comic.
But it’s sort of btw, anyway.

I wish Marvel would buy back the rights to Conan. I liked all the Hyborian Age history in the Marvel Universe (Kulan Gath, Elder Gods, etc.).

I would’ve loved to have seen a Black Captain America. I haven’t picked up a comic since the early issues of Spawn, last time I checked, Powerman was the last attempt by Marvel to give a Black superhero a try. His costume sucked, so I never gave it a chance.

How/why did you come to a comic book enthusiast site if you haven’t gotten a comic in over 20 years?

the Captain America story ,Truth, was based on a true story. the tuskegee syphilis experiment. in 1932 the U.S. public health service under the guise of giving free health care to afro-american males were injected with syphilis to study long term untreated effects of the drug. Just look up Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment on the internet.. it will scare you.

percane:”No way a WWII era could have been asian. even before we put them in internment camps after pearl harbor, they were considered second class citizens.”

All “asians” were not put in internment camps during World War 2. The policy only affected Japanese-Americans who lived on the West Coast. Chinese-Americans, for example, were unaffected, as were, for the most part , Japanese-Americans who were resident in Hawaii (of the roughly 150,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans in Hawaii, only some 1,200 to 1,800 were interned).

Please do not construe this as some kind of defense of the policy; it was clearly wrong, a gross violation of civil rights. I simply wish to clarify what actually happened.

i forgot to add the tuskegee syphilis lasted from 1932- 1972.

les simpson:”the Captain America story ,Truth, was based on a true story. the tuskegee syphilis experiment. in 1932 the U.S. public health service under the guise of giving free health care to afro-american males were injected with syphilis to study long term untreated effects of the drug. Just look up Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment on the internet.. it will scare you.”

This is incorrect. The men were not “injected with syphilis.” The men were already infected before the experiment began.Via WIKIPEDIA:

“The Public Health Service, working with the Tuskegee Institute, began the study in 1932. Investigators enrolled in the study a total of 600 impoverished sharecroppers from Macon County, Alabama; 399 who had previously contracted syphilis before the study began, and 201[2] without the disease. For participating in the study, the men were given free medical care, meals, and free burial insurance. They were never told they had syphilis, nor were they ever treated for it. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the men were told they were being treated for “bad blood”, a local term for various illnesses that include syphilis, anemia, and fatigue.”

Hence, the crime was the withholding of treatment and information regarding their condition.

chakal:”It was only an innocent idea.
Just imagine that Cap is Asian or Jewish.

There is this white / black talk, and people forget about the other possibilities.
Captain America could also be Arab, Latino, Slav, etc.”

The reason for the White/Black dynamic is rooted in American history. No other group has been as consistently marginalized and oppressed as Blacks. Only Amerinds come close, and, even in that case, the dynamic is different, Amerinds being both more oppressed (Blacks never faced the kind of exterminatory violence that Amerinds faced) and more respected (cf the way in which elite Virginians boasted of their descent from Pocahontas).

My problem with The Truth was it was so wrapped up in a indictment of America’s racism it basically ignored all logic, starting with its basis, The Tuskegee Experiments. They weren’t using those men to test out beneficial drugs, much less something that would make them into supermen. The very racism one needed to make the experiments possible is the same racism that would prohibit the use of black soldiers. And also the were so obsessed with the experiments they completely overlooked something else about Tuskegee: The Airmen. Being black it bothered me that the only way a Black man could be Cap was as an unknowing guinea big and not a brave volunteer like Steve Rogers. But they were more interested in dropping anvils on the evils of racism than telling a story.

I disagree on Dark Horse reprints of the Conan titles. The coloring is terrible, I want to see the work as close to possible of when it was published, The BWS books are particularly bad, some of the panels are very dark.

My first response when seeing ‘cyclopean’ is to think of it as meaning ‘really really big.’ Probably just because I love the word.

And hey, at least the vagina monster neither had teeth nor was haunted, so it could have been much worse. Ah, comics.

Conan the Adventurer #37 ?

I disagree on Dark Horse reprints of the Conan titles. The coloring is terrible, I want to see the work as close to possible of when it was published, The BWS books are particularly bad, some of the panels are very dark.

Agreed. The recoloring isn’t nearly as sloppy as on Dynamite’s Red Sonja reprints, but it’s still pretty bad. That’s why I hunted down Marvel’s out-of-print Essential Conan, because the art looks way better in B&W than it does recolored.

LouReedRichards

June 7, 2013 at 2:10 pm

I tend to think of the architectural definition when I see the word ‘cyclopean’. As Omar noted, ‘cyclopean’ seemed to pop up all the time in Lovecraft’s work. He used the term to describe structures quite a bit. I’m not not certain, but I don’t think he ever used it to signify a creature with one eye.

A: When Steve Rogers was in the military, it was NOT mostly black. 50,000 out of 16 million total combat soldiers were black.

B: When Nick Fury first appeared in Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man, he was not decisively black, and looked as if he was drawn white ( Italian American, I think) and colored to be somewhere between white and black, as if they got a late memo to the colorist to make him “not white, but not really black”. That’s just my take on what happened, but it looks really weird. I think it was in an issue of the Team Up book, not drawn by Bagley, If I remember correctly.

@ RedComet:

I, myself, read almost no “new” comics, and those I do are bought in trades or hardcovers.

I prefer to read back issues, or collections of comics from the 80′s and such, and find that comics fill sort of a nostalgia spot for me. I have also found lots of joy in reading “old stuff” like the E.C. Segar Popeyes and the Herbie the Fat Fury collections.

I do keep up with comics news and such, and rarely find anything that draws me back into buying anything new, in floppies, anyway. Maybe the commenter you were responding to falls in line with my feelings.

I don’t find The Truth that implausible. Post-war, there were a horrendous number of experiments done on people with nuclear materials–orphans given plutonium, working-class pregnant women given radioactive iron cocktails and so on. I could see someone singling out black Americans for the purpose.
An Asian American Cap in WW II would be doable, I think. Something along the lines of the 442nd Nisei, for example, or the Sunset Squad in the Secret Identities trade paperback (Asian-American themed comics stories).
By the way, I don’t see a “click if you want comments updates” box at the bottom. Is it gone or is that something with my computer?

“He just thought it was an interesting idea, because so much of America’s military is African-American. He just felt that it would only make sense that an African-American male would most likely be Captain America.”

That’s not even accurate now, let alone during WW2.

While the Cyclops in ancient greek mythology was characterized by having one eye. The word cyclopean generally refers to something massive especially a structure. For example calling a mouse cyclopean would be an off-pattern use of the word.

When I see the word ‘cyclopean’ I think of mutant self-pity, e.g. “Waaaah! I can’t take my sunglasses off! Waaah!”

– MrJM

The vagina monster just wants gold? Was Roy Thomas going through a divorce at the time? Wikipedia says he was married in 1968, and remarried in 1981. It would be fantastic if he was going through a divorce when this came out in 1974.

Jake Earlewine

June 7, 2013 at 5:27 pm

That Barry Smith Conan run is a rare treasure.

Badthingus: Yes, as John Byrne has pointed out, the concept behind Truth is that the US Government in the 40′s would be willing to conduct experiments which, if successful and going exactly the way they’re hoping, would result in a superpowered black man.
Sounds plausible?

wow. a few people have a bit of information but the facts seem to elude them.

*fact. black servicemen served in every branch of the military during WW2.
*fact. not all of those positions were involved with labor. the Army Air Corps had a unit of black pilots popularized in a movie called the “red tails”….
*fact. japanese troops served in the european theater with distinction. the former(?) senator from hawaii was in the unit.
*fact. jewish servicemembers served with distinction during the war.

geez guys. if you’re going to delve into a touchy issue like race then at least have a working knowledge of military history. the US military has been a leader in civil rights.

Soloman,as great as you want to make it sound,racism was still the norm against all minorities that served in the military.They served with distinction is an understatement.They served even though they were thought of as less than by their white counterpartsThe Japanese-American soldiers could only fight in Germany because it was thought that they would change sides if they fought in the Asian theatre..They wanted to fight for THEIR country no matter the cost.BUT,they had to fight for that right.The Navajo codetalkers only came into the war because of their unique language that the Japanese had no idea of.It was a real turning point in the war.

“From there, a common-sense question emerged, which is ‘Why would it make people uncomfortable?’”

To me from there, a question emerges, which is “why would the white Captain America make you so uncomfortable that you’d want to change it?”

solomon:

“*fact. black servicemen served in every branch of the military during WW2.”

Yes, but in segregated units.

“*fact. not all of those positions were involved with labor. the Army Air Corps had a unit of black pilots popularized in a movie called the “red tails”….”

Yes, but the bulk of Black troops were kept out of combat.Indeed, one quick way to illustrate that fact is to look at Black combat deaths in World War 2. Black combat deaths in the the war total 708

“*fact. japanese troops served in the european theater with distinction. the former(?) senator from hawaii was in the unit.”

Yes, Japanese-American units like the 442nd served with great distinction in the European Theatre.

“*fact. jewish servicemembers served with distinction during the war.”

Jewish service does not help your point. Jews are White, and White people were not subject to segregation* during WW2.

“geez guys. if you’re going to delve into a touchy issue like race then at least have a working knowledge of military history. the US military has been a leader in civil rights.”

This is true, but that leadership role emerged, for the most part, after WW2, when Truman ordered the desegregation of the military.

*Hispanics were also not subject to segregation.

The book The Censored War points out that photos and news of blacks was very carefully monitored so that a)African Americans could see their people serving with distinction, but b)they wouldn’t have so much distinction that white people would get PO’d.

I remember the Captain America at the Mega Drive/Genesis port of the arcade game “Captain America and the Avengers” had a quite darker skin than the one we see in the comics…

No, I can believe that the US Government, even if they were racist enough to run illegal experiments on black men would be willing to run the risk of giving a black man super powers. Heck, in real world logic, as testified by some here, they didn’t have a problem giving guns or fighter planes to Japanese or African Americans who were willing to fight for their home country. In comic book logic, they didn’t have a problem giving a Adamantium skeleton to a complete lunatic with samurai skills. Or they would have just built a Tess One to blow him the heck up, or, you know, whatever the guys who wrote the actual comic said they used as safeguards. Hardly an impossibility, really.

chakal:

“And what if….
Captain America was Asian?
Or Jewish?”

I remember a story in Marvel Super-Heroes back in 1990 that revealed that Marvel’s pulp hero Dominic Fortune was a contender to become Captain America, but the government officials running the project decided that America wasn’t ready for a Jewish national hero. Plus, he was “living in sin” with his girlfriend, which they felt projected the wrong moral image.

Armitage:”I remember a story in Marvel Super-Heroes back in 1990 that revealed that Marvel’s pulp hero Dominic Fortune was a contender to become Captain America, but the government officials running the project decided that America wasn’t ready for a Jewish national hero. Plus, he was “living in sin” with his girlfriend, which they felt projected the wrong moral image.”

The review of the story (“Who saves the hero?”, MARVEL SUPER-HEROES FALL SPECIAL 3) in NO ONE LOVES RANDOM HAPPENSTANCE blog argues otherwise, vis-a-vis Fortune’s Jewishness:

“While Dr. Erskine begins working up Fortune and the Serum, the overseers of the program debate their test subject. Some like the idea of a Jewish Super-Soldier, as a counter to Hitler’s “Master Race” propaganda, but in the end, it comes down to questions over Fortune’s character: a gambling, hotheaded, promiscuous troublemaker might be fine for higher office, but not for a symbol of America.”

According to this reviewer, Fortune’s Jewishness was a plus, not a negative. It was all about Fortune’s less than squeaky clean reputation.

Jeff Nettleton

June 9, 2013 at 4:57 pm

“geez guys. if you’re going to delve into a touchy issue like race then at least have a working knowledge of military history. the US military has been a leader in civil rights.”

Not even close. The military was desegregated by executive order and fought it tooth and nail. Racially motivated incidents were still common up through and after the Vietnam War. Annecdotal evidence in Vietnam suggests that black troops were more often to be sent into dangerous areas and suffered higher casualty rates, though that is probably up for debate.

While we are talking civil rights, lets remember that they apply not only along racial lines, but gender and sexual orientation. As a naval officer, I saw far too many excellent sailors ejected from the military for being gay. I also saw an appallingly misogynystic attitude at all levels, and in all services. Prior to leaving the service, a debate had been started about ending the ban on homosexuals, which eventually led to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Colin Powell, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, testified before Congress citing several arguements against allowing homosexuals to serve. He then found himself on the defensive as Sen. Diane Feinstein pointed out that his arguments were nearly identical those used in opposition to the integration of Blacks in the 1940s.

The military has never been at the forefront of civil rights. It has been dragged, kicking and screaming, into the mainstream time and time again.

Personally, I thought The Truth was an interesting idea, but that Kyle Baker’s cartoony art subliminally undermined the power of the work. Nothing against Baker, as he was able to convey the strong emotions called for in the plot; but, I just found the style caused a kind of disconnect when I read it. Actually, I can see the military using Black guinea pigs, despite a potential outcome, specifically for the reasons shown, with painful deaths and disfigurements. The mindset of those who would sanction the program would be geared towards the negative aspects as much as the positive. If it then proved successful, it would then probably be exclusively used on white troops. I see no difference in this and breeding ideas during the slavery era. The brass would find a use for black supersoldiers, but wouldn’t publicize it; probably as canon fodder, particularly in the island campaigns of the Pacific.

“Jews are White, and White people were not subject to segregation* during WW2.”

There were not separate regiments for Jewish soldiers, no, but nor did they find themselves moved up into the officers ranks all that often.

“Jews are White, and White people were not subject to segregation* during WW2.”

deron:”There were not separate regiments for Jewish soldiers, no, but nor did they find themselves moved up into the officers ranks all that often.”

Discrimination against Jews did exist in the military during WW2 (especially in the Navy), but it simply cannot be compared to what Blacks faced on any level.

deron:”There were not separate regiments for Jewish soldiers, no, but nor did they find themselves moved up into the officers ranks all that often.”

Define “often.” A quick search through google reveals a large number of Jewish officers in the American military during WW2. The highest ranking Jewish officer during WW2 was Major General Maurice Rose. He was the highest ranking American to be killed by enemy fire.

Jews weren’t exactly “white”–they weren’t in the same zone of subhumanness as bigots put blacks, but a lot of people didn’t consider them equal to WASPs either. Some communites had no-Jews allowed housing restrictions, for instance.
I think a lot of people would have been offended at the idea of a Jewish super-hero representing America, since America was routinely defined as a Protestant country (lawsuits against Protestant school prayers were sometimes thrown out on the grounds that the more Protestant indoctrination kids got, the more American they became). And even after the government was aware of Hitler’s agenda, it resisted allowing in mass loads of refugee Jews.
That’s not a reflection on the Army, but I doubt anyone in the government would have sanctioned a Jewish Captain America.

fraser:”Jews weren’t exactly “white””: Yes they were. Being White was a matter of great legal importance in pre-1960s America. If Jews were not considered White, they would have been subject to a host of legal penalties: segregated schools, segregated facilities in the army, restrictions on voting, etc.

fraser:”–they weren’t in the same zone of subhumanness as bigots put blacks,”: No one group received the kind of treatment that Blacks did.

fraser:” but a lot of people didn’t consider them equal to WASPs either. Some communites had no-Jews allowed housing restrictions, for instance.”

Yeah, and in pre-1960s America lots of people discriminated against Catholics also. Catholics and Jews were discriminated against on a private level;Blacks were discriminated against on the level of government policy.

fraser:”I think a lot of people would have been offended at the idea of a Jewish super-hero representing America, since America was routinely defined as a Protestant country (lawsuits against Protestant school prayers were sometimes thrown out on the grounds that the more Protestant indoctrination kids got, the more American they became).”

Sure, some people would have been offended. Bess Myerson (the first Jewish Miss America) faced some rather ugly bigotry after winning. On the other hand, she was Miss America in 1945, which meant that the symbol of American womanhood was a Jewish woman.

fraser:” And even after the government was aware of Hitler’s agenda, it resisted allowing in mass loads of refugee Jews.”

The USA in the 1930s was in a profoundly anti-immigrant mood….and that mood extended to internal “immigrants” (cf the Oakies in California) as well.

fraser:”That’s not a reflection on the Army, but I doubt anyone in the government would have sanctioned a Jewish Captain America.”

“Anyone” is a very comprehensive word. Do you really mean to say that no one in the government would have sanctioned a Jewish Captain America? I am certainly willing to allow that some people would have been uncomfortable with the idea, but the idea that no one would have sanctioned it seems improbable.

fraser:”That’s not a reflection on the Army, but I doubt anyone in the government would have sanctioned a Jewish Captain America.”

Well, as I noted in my previous post, Bess Myerson was chosen in 1945 to be Miss America, the living symbol of American womanhood.

For a masculine example, one might look at Arthur Klein, AKA OMAK (One Man Army Klein):

“Artie Klein was better known by his nickname “OMAK”, standing for One Man Army Klein (the title of an article about him in Yank magazine). The Brooklyn-born son of German immigrant parents, Klein lied about his age and joined the Army at age 14 to avoid being sent to reform school. He served around the world and became an expert on every infantry weapon. He spent the years leading up to World War II drilling recruits. He was known for his favorite phrase “Now youse men listen to me.”

World War II began and on a request from his father, he was transferred to the 106th Infantry. The 106th first battle was Eniwetok on 19 February 1944. As weapons platoon commander, Klein landed with the first wave. For the next three days the fighting was fierce and Klein stayed in the front, inspiring the troops. He received a Distinguished Service Cross for the battle, which was personally pinned on his pajamas by President Roosevelt at Tripler General Hospital, where Kelin spent 4 months recovering from wounds received on Saipan. The President’s visit inspired Klein and he refused a chance to return home, returning to the Pacific. He was killed on Okinawa, once again leading his troops and giving his life to inspire them.” (via The National Museum of American Jewish Military History)

So, here is a Jewish guy who gets written up in YANK magazine ( a military publication) as a model soldier. And, he is is even given a superhero style codename: Omak. Given these real world precedents, I think that the military would have been willing to sanction a Jewish guy as Captain America.

Incidentally, does anyone know if Jack Kirby had Arthur Klein/Omak in mind when he created Omac, the One Man Army Corps? It seems to me that he had to have been influenced by Klein, even if it was only on a sub-conscious level.

Wow. I still think there’d have been huge blowback from the public, Trajan, but that’s a heck of a counter-argument.
When I said “anyone” I didn’t mean “nobody in government would have accepted the idea” as much as “given the anti-semitism many people had, they’d probably have worried about hurting support for the war” which was a huge issue in the time (as I suspect you know because you obviously do know the era). Movies were constantly scrutinized for themes or scenes that might reflect negatively on the war effort; photos from the front were likewise controlled. Early in the war, they refused to allow photos that were too horrifying, but adopted a different standard as the war approached the end (on the grounds that showing how ugly combat was would keep people from thinking it would be easy).

fraser:”When I said “anyone” I didn’t mean “nobody in government would have accepted the idea” as much as “given the anti-semitism many people had, they’d probably have worried about hurting support for the war” which was a huge issue in the time”

But how would the public have known that a Jewish guy was Captain America? While a Black Captain America’s race would have been self-evident (barring a costume redesign that would have necessitated a full face mask), Jewishness has to be announced. How many people, for example, knew that Leslie Howard and Lauren Bacall were Jewish?If the military were worried about Cap’s Jewishness causing a negative public reaction, they would simply have told the hypothetical Jewish Cap to not refer to his religious/ethnic background.

As both a historian AND a comic book fan, it pains me deeply to read fanboys attempting to discuss history not related to comic books.

The babblings about race relations during WW 2 period in these posts have precious little to do with reality. Anybody here ever actually watch a movie made during World War 2? BATAAN?? Anyone here ever hear of Dory Miller? Do a google search for his poster.

Anyone here ever hear of a little something called the Harlem Hell Fighters? From WW 1!!

No one here has the SLIGHTEST IDEA of the reality of the period.

It is also painfully obvious that a certain section have a vested interest in smearing and defaming the United States before the 1960s generation is supposed to have made everything so wonderful. Not only is it rubbish, it is narcicism.

As someone who has direct experience with America from the 60s forward as well as the WW 2 generation, I can say I have never seen the degree of insane racism outside of the Deep South that I see in the current generation and current culture. A racist is someone who is obsessed with race and that is ALL you people ever go on about.

History will look back upon this period in awe and horror at how everything that the WW 2 generation fought and struggled for was thrown away by their children and grand children.

And why? Because the WW 2 generation saved the world from the Axis and then communism. While today’s generation? Well they tweet a lot.

Simply put. History is not a comic book. Comic books are not history. Do not try to mix the too.

Here’s some more info on OMAK/Arthur Kelin:

“Such a person would be “Omak, The One Man Army”. Omak, [real name Artie Klein], distinguished himself during the landing and invasion of the Japanese held island of Eniwetok, in the South Pacific. Such was the bravery of Klein during the attack upon Eniwetok, that Klein’s exploits were written about in length by the Yank magazine, a military journal of the time. In the article, Klein is referred to, for security reasons, as Omak.

What was it exactly that Klein did that surely merited the awarding of the Medal of Honor?? According to the author Harry A. Gailey, who personally confirmed the exploits of Klein on Eniwetok:

“The hardest fighting, however, was in front of Company B, which had the task of securing the left flank of the westward advance. Here an unlikely hero emerged. 1st Lt. Artie Klein, a professional enlisted man who had been forced to accept a commission [forced??!!], was weapons platoon commander of B Company. Landing in a trailing wave, he quickly took charge of the green, scattered troops along the beach. He reformed platoons and companies from one end of the beach to the other and led them in counterattacks against the major Japanese positions. Klein had become the de facto commander of the 1st Battalion. He was instrumental in stopping the first major counterattack launched by over 300 Japanese just after noon along the front of the 1st Battalion. Klein is singled out from the rest of the junior officers and men not only because of his heroic actions, which might well have saved the 1st Battalion from a very bad beating, but because of the way his actions were later recognized. Called Omak, The One Man Army by Yank magazine, he was recognized by the historian of the 27th Division as the bravest man he had ever met and the most important on Eniwetok that first day.”

An interesting sidepoint about OMAK involves his not being awarded the Medal of Honor. Some people have speculated that anti-Jewish prejudice might have played a part, but so far as I know, no solid evidence has emerged to confirm this. Certainly some Jews were denied medals. Tibor Rubin, for example, was a soldier in the Korean War whose MOH application was dropped by a prejudiced sgt. (he finally got the MOH in 2005).
So, perhaps some evidence may turn up. On the other hand, maybe OMAK was just passed over for some other, random reason.

Sorry, trajan, my impression was that we were talking about a publicly Jewish Cap as a counterweight to Nazi antisemitism. Yes, a Jewish cap per se wouldn’t be such an issue if it wasn’t public knowledge.
Bob, a lot of that racism isn’t coming from the current generation. A good chunk of it coming from really old guys who still miss Jim Crow (which a lot of the WW II generation were okay with). And others who are freaking out that white is going from a majority status to just one of countless minorities.

fraser:”Sorry, trajan, my impression was that we were talking about a publicly Jewish Cap as a counterweight to Nazi antisemitism. Yes, a Jewish cap per se wouldn’t be such an issue if it wasn’t public knowledge.”

Yeah, I was working on the assumption that a hypothetical Jewish cap in WW2 would operate in the same fashion as Steve Rogers did. the public only knew that the Steve Rogers Cap was a White guy; they had no knowledge concerning his religious beliefs or ethnic background.

I would’ve loved to have seen a Black Captain America.

During the whole “Who Will Wield the Shield?” hullabaloo, I was rooting for the Falcon to take over the Cap mantle until Steve Rogers inevitably came back from the dead. But Sam didn’t even seen to be one of the options.

IIRC…and maybe this will be a nice Urban Legends revealed (if it hasn’t already)…there was a point when Steve Rogers was going to resign and there would be a new Cap…the man known as Black Crow.

Instead someone at Marvel thought people wouldn’t like a Native American cap so instead they introduced Super Patriot (John Walker) who became Cap when Rogers resigned.

That’s funny, I always thought American Eagle would be a great Captain America, seeing as how he already had the patriotic theme and everything. But as far as I know, he hasn’t even met Steve Rogers. Black Crow was more of a mystical medicine man sort of character, so that would seem odder to me, even though he’d at least been part of Cap’s supporting cast at one point; it would be like Doctor Strange becoming the new Cap.

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