This article was originally published at The Farrell File.
Nick Spencer, Daniel Acuna, and Paul Renaud’s run on Captain America: Sam Wilson continues to serve as a direct attack on conservatives and libertarians in the form of a comic. This shouldn’t really come as a surprise given that Spencer ran for the Cincinnati City Council under the Charter Party and once worked within the Democrat party — not to mention his Twitter feed is pretty much a stream of his own political opinions.
The attacks began in the very first issue, when Spencer brings back one of Marvel’s oldest villains, the Sons of the Serpent. Previously, the Sons of the Serpent were “a racist group created by General Chen in an attempt to divide America, performing hate-crimes against foreigners around the country.” However, Spencer, Acuna, and Renaud have turned the group into one that supports free-market principles and opposes illegal immigration. Their stance on illegal immigration was covered extensively when the first issue debuted. However, in the most recent issue, Spencer decided to up the ante even more, characterizing Viper as a free-marketeer and one who believes in American exceptionalism:
He didn’t finish with the free-marketeer characterization, either. Spencer went out of his way to make sure Viper called himself a “super villain in a snake suit.”
This characterization is almost a mockery of the original Captain America, Steve Rogers, who originally appeared in Captain America Comics #1 throwing a haymaker to the jaw of Adolf Hitler before the United States was an active participant in World War II. According to Marvel, a young Steve Rogers vowed to “serve his country any way he could . . . [taking] the super soldier serum to become America’s one-man army.” Marvel continues, “Fighting for the red, white and blue for over 60 years, Captain America is the living, breathing symbol of freedom and liberty.” Furthermore, Captain America was designed to embody all the traits of America in the eyes of the patriotic beholder. He spread American exceptionalism by promoting America’s role as a leader in morals, ethics, economics, and politics. Nick Spencer has taken defining traits of Captain America and given them to one of his villains.
Spencer insinuates that people who believe there is “unfair and oppressive regulation at the hands of an overreaching government” are just like Viper — villainous. Not only does he attempt to mock free market solutions to pollution, he also exposes his complete ignorance of what he is attempting to mock.
Now it is possible Spencer isn’t really trying to vilify all people who support less government regulation and shrinking the size of government. Later on in the issue, Sam Wilson makes his own speech:
You could argue that this means he is only trying to paint Viper as a phony who doesn’t believe in the principles he is espousing. However, you can also interpret it to mean that not only is Spencer calling people who believe in free-market ideas villainous, but he also believes they aren’t principled and are only out to get a buck. I’m inclined to believe the second interpretation is true.
To further emphasize the point, Spencer had previously characterized the new Captain America, Sam Wilson, as a former Falcon and African American, espousing Democrat talking points such as inequality. Now, like a typical politician, Spencer doesn’t reveal the actual speech or describe Wilson’s beliefs, but he makes it abundantly clear what those beliefs are by depicting a number of media headlines.
Spencer has defended this characterization in an interview with the Daily Beast. “People think they know exactly what Sam said at this press conference,” he said. However, they don’t need to know, because Spencer includes the reactions from the news media. One can assume there is at least a little bit of truth in what the headlines are projecting, and those headlines all read that Sam Wilson has taken a stance against traditional conservative views regarding the Constitution. Spencer doesn’t bother including an opposing headline to cast any doubt on whether what they are reporting is true or not.
As for the characterization of Viper, what makes it all the more damning is Spencer’s claim in the same interview, “There will be villains in this book that have left-wing ideologies. There will be conservatives portrayed in a positive light in the book.” So far this hasn’t been true at all, and we are 5 issues in. It has all been demonizing characterizations of conservatives who are opposed to immigration, and now, people who believe in the free market. That’s the real problem: Spencer doesn’t show any characters supporting these ideas as good guys. In issue 4 he does depict a businessperson taking a stand, but it isn’t in support of the ideas that Spencer vilifies. He stands against the heinous actions of Viper and the Sons of the Serpent, which are revealed in issue 2 to be human experimentation, and in issue 4 as murder.
If Spencer really wants to avoid creating a comic that is not blatantly partisan, he should take a page out of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Strikes Again, which depicts Green Arrow and The Question having philosophical debates, but neither portrayed a villain. In fact, they are both heroes. Nick Spencer needs to support his claims with action or he ends up being just another lying, failed politician, and the image and brand of Captain America becomes Captain Socialism.
Bound Further Into Comics
If you found this article interesting, subscribe to Bounding Into Comics. You will get a weekly update detailing the top stories in the comic book industry.