Rundown: The Top 5 Patriotic Superheroes (Besides Captain America)
I enjoyed Captain America: The First Avenger quite a bit. I didn’t mention this in the review, but I actually saw it twice in a row, and I’d totally be willing to see it again in theaters. Since I’m still running on a patriotic high, I decided to make a list of patriotic superheroes. Although Captain America is probably the most famous star-spangled hero, he’s not the only one, or even the first. There have been a number of cool-looking, inspiring, or at the very least interesting red, white, and blue heroes over the years. So without further ado, here’s the top five patriotic superheroes who aren’t Captain America!!
5. U.S. Agent
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Secret Identity: John Walker
Ok, so the guy isn’t super different from Captain America, but bear with me. John Walker was a U.S. soldier who briefly took up the mantle of Captain America after Steve Rogers left the government. Rogers had issues with following the directives of the U.S. government, and Walker was recruited and trained to be a Cap who more willingly followed the chain of command. Walker served as a more aggressive, lethal Captain America until suffering a breakdown and being replaced by Rogers. He eventually resurfaced as U.S. Agent, a government-sanctioned superhero who served on a number of Avengers-related teams.
U.S. Agent is noteworthy because while he has a similar set of powers, equipment, and costume, his outlook is very different from Cap. For all of his military background, Cap has always been more liberal and open with his opinions of his superiors. U.S. Agent is a loyal government operative first, and a superhero second. He’s more politically conservative, and he captures a military mindset more realistically when dealing with enemies, for better or for worse. I wouldn’t describe him as being a better or worse embodiment of American ideals, because he and Captain America are two sides of the same coin. Both work hard to make America a better place, but their methods are ultimately irreconcilable.
4. Silent Majority
Publisher: DC Comics
Secret Identity: Unknown
Silent Majority is a member of the patriotic Force of July, a second-string DC government-sponsored super team. Comics being what they are, they’re usually drawn into conflict with more established superheroes before the inevitable team up. Force of July includes a Captain America style super soldier and a Lady Liberty themed superheroine, but Silent Majority takes the cake. Quiet and mysterious, he has the ability to make duplicates of himself, handy when battling terrorist groups or supervillain teams. Using democratic concepts as a theme is inspired, and his outfit, with its blue accents and star design, is cool and sleek while still retaining an American flair. A perpetual C-Lister, Silent Majority mainly pops up when they need a hero to be murdered, so not too much has been revealed about him. Hopefully someday soon he’ll be given the spotlight he deserves.
3. U.S. Jones
Publisher: Fox Features
Secret Identity: Unknown
Ah, the Golden Age. Superhero comics back then were like shakycam horror movies are today; it doesn’t really matter if they’re good or bad, if you make them, people will buy them. There are hundreds of heroes who appeared in only one or two comics before fading away, and a few were made up exclusively for covers, with no stories about them at all. U.S. Jones fared pretty well, comparatively. He appeared in over a half-dozen comics, punching out Nazis and mad chemists in his ill-advised get-up. There’s not much back story or pathos in the stories (we don’t find out if U.S. Jones is in fact his real name, for example), but like many Golden Age comics, there’s enough action and classic art to make them enjoyable seventy-odd years later. And the best part about U.S. Jones? He’s public domain. You and I could go out tomorrow and sell U.S. Jones comics without having to pay royalties to anybody. There’s nothing more American than exploiting expired copyrights, right?
Publisher: DC Comics
Secret Identity: Celia Forrestal
Skyrocket is a rather recent DC superheroine. Celia Forrestal was a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy who was unfairly sidelined due to her race and gender. Then her scientist parents were killed in an explosion and she used their experimental armor suit to become a superheroine!! (Comics, everybody!) She then became a member of the Power Company, a for-profit corporate superhero team. Skyrocket adds some nice variation to the white guy lineup most patriotic superheroes have, and the story explores her gender and race honestly, rather than shying away from it. It’s also an interesting touch to have a career naval officer join a privately funded superhero corporation out for money and fame. But capitalism is a core part of American life, and Iron Man in many ways is as much an embodiment of the American spirit as Captain America (but that’s a different post altogether). And I will admit, I’m a sucker for powered-armor superheroes. They’re just so cool, especially decked out in a red, white, and blue theme.
1. The Shield
Publisher: MLJ Publications
Secret Identity: Joe Higgins
G-Man Extraordinary!! The Shield is actually the first patriotic superhero, beating out Captain America by over a year. In fact, Captain America’s shield was changed to the now-iconic disc due to complaints by MLJ that it too closely resembled his signature outfit. Joe Higgins was a chemist who discovered a formula which increased they body’s natural abilities, making him superhuman (sound familiar?). He joined the FBI as the Shield, fighting villains at home and abroad. The Shield was a huge hit for MLJ, spawning fan clubs and crossovers until MLJ created some dweeby kid named Archibald, and the rest is history. Several companies have tried to use the rights to revive the Shield, with limited success. However, he recently made a comeback in a fantastic miniseries by DC Comics and J. Michael Straczynski, and hopefully will make more appearances soon.
So there you have it. There’s plenty more where those came from, and that’s not even getting into the parodies of the concept. As always, questions and comments are welcome in the comment section!!