When America the Beautiful and superheroes cross your mind in the same thought, who is the first guy you think of? I'm going to go all fake David Blaine on you and guess it's
Captain America, that's right. It was either him or Superman, and Cap is just a lot more stars and stripes-y...literally.
But what about the lesser known patriotic superheroes from the comics? The guys whose lights still shine, just not as brightly as Superman's or Captain America's? Here's their time to be in the spotlight!
5. Uncle Sam
This one is near and dear to me, for obvious reasons (not just the name; I'm an uncle three times over, too). In July of 1940, Uncle Sam got his start as, basically, the embodiment of the 'Spirit of America.' Whenever he was needed, he magically appeared and fought whichever good fight needed fighting.
Later, his origin story would be rewritten to show him as a spiritual being that was the product of a ritual performed by the Founding Fathers. He would appear in wars throughout history: the Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWI, etc. No matter how he was created, he was considered to be a physical representation of the American spirit.
4. Miss America
Not to be confused with those nice ladies in bikinis who want nothing more than world peace and a cure for hunger, Miss America's first origin story from 1941 is one of the strangest yet coolest in comics. Long story short, the Statue of Liberty visits reporter Joan Dale in a dream, and gives her the power to alter matter. Since then, her story has been fairly similar to Captain Marvel, as DC and Marvel have both used the name Miss America for certain superheroes and her secret identity has changed multiple times.
The current Miss America is America Chavez, created as an LGBT character in 2011 and one that has generated a cult following from an entirely new generation of comic book readers. Raised by her mothers in the Utopian Parallel, she went on to join Teen Brigade, and later, an all-female version of the Avengers known as the A-Force. Her most interesting power? The ability to travel between realities through portals she creates.
3. Mister America
We can't have a Miss America without a Mister America, now can we? Unlike his female counterpart, the rights to the name Mr. America have been owned by DC all along. The original Golden Age Mr. America, Tex Thompson, came along in 1938 but had no real powers. He was just great with a whip and hand-to-hand combat. And, apparently, had a chemically altered carpet for a cape. This was pre-1940, so let's not judge...too much.
The most current version of Mister America, Jeffrey Graves, is connected to the previous heroes, Tex And Trey Thompson, having worked with Trey at the FBI. Trey was murdered by Vandal Savage, allowing Jeffrey to take up the third iteration and current mantle.
2. The Star-Spangled Kid & Stripesy
Created by none other than the co-father of Superman himself, Jerry Siegel, this duo was actually made up of a teenaged superhero and his adult sidekick. Together, young Sylvester Pemberton and Pat Dugan fought crime and bickered about who should get the most credit.
After the original Kid died, Pat Dugan married Barbara Whitmore. Her daughter, Courtney, found Pemberton's outfit one day while rummaging through his stuff, and realized that he was the only adult sidekick to a teen hero in history. Wanting to annoy and ridicule him, she jokingly donned Pemberton's outfit, but ended up as the new Star-Spangled Kid (later, Stargirl), with Pat as her sidekick. Her stepdad donned an armor suit he created, and took up the name S.T.R.I.P.E.
1. The Shield
The G-Man Extraordinary himself, The Shield hit the comic scene in January of 1940, originally known as chemist Joe Higgins. His father was murdered while working on a super-serum, and Joe finished his work, giving himself super strength, the ability to jump high, and invulnerability. Sound familiar? Fourteen months later, Captain America came along and stole the patriotic superhero's spotlight, but not until The Shield had set the stage for comic book superheroes inspiring a greater love of our country.
After many reincarnations, the most recent character to take up the mantle of The Shield is Victoria Adams. Her version is fairly new, so the details of her powers and origin are a bit of a mystery.
So there you are! I bet you didn't realize there were so many patriotically-themed superheroes, did you? But it makes sense that they all were created right around WWII, a time in which America needed patriotism more than ever to get it through one of the toughest times in history. These heroes became symbols for people to rally around, and they did!