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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

THE TOP 10 GREATEST CAPTAIN AMERICA MOMENTS


THE TOP 10 GREATEST 
CAPTAIN AMERICA MOMENTS


By
John "THE MEGO STRETCH HULK" Cimino

America should continually thank Joe Simon and Jack Kirby for creating a truly inspiring hero in December of 1940 when Captain America Comics #1 hit the newsstands from Timely Comics (which would later become Marvel). Here was this guy dressed up in the stars and stripes with a shield fighting for every man, woman and child so they would never have to live in the face of tyranny. When the world needed hope and someone to lead them from the dangerous reality of wartime America, the comic industry gave them Captain America!! And he immediately became the most prominent character in a wave of patriotically themed superheroes introduced in comics prior to and during WWII. With his sidekick Bucky, Cap faced off against the Nazis, Japanese and other dastardly villains that threatened the American way of life. Sure, Captain America wasn't the first inspirational patriotic hero (The Shield from MLJ or Archie Comics beat him out by fourteen months) but he was defiantly the most popular and enduring.

While Captain America can mean many things to people, the essence of the character was about this disabled kid who bought into the patriotism of his country. He read the propaganda and he bought into it all the way. So much that he agreed to be a guinea pig for an experiment that would allow him to "serve" his country. Becoming Captain America revealed to him the many lies within the propaganda. But that didn't stop him from loving his country and trying to live up to the values of what got him there, even if his own country didn't stand behind them. He wanted to represent his country with dignity and inspire others to a better way of life. It's about pride in your own country and being the best you can be and if your country doesn't agree, maybe YOU can be the start of something to transform it into that better place. Maybe you can be that inspiration. Because after all, Captain America is all about the common man rising above and walking the line to protect the freedom for all.

It's Caps inspiration to others that make him the most dangerous man in the Marvel Universe.

Captain America is so much more than just a mere comic book character. He also represents the iron will, dedication, and honor of the great founding fathers of America's past. He embodies the spirit and drive these great people in America's history had to make so life could be better for all. If I had to compare Cap to anyone who ever lived in reality it would have to be George Washington. If you don't have a clue about the background of the 1st president then read on and recognize the similarities these two icons have in common.

Good ol' George trekked through miles and miles of uncharted territory on horseback and foot with nothing but his balls, his blankets, his musket and other primitive 18th century means. In his mid-40's he left his wealthy wife and secure estate lifestyle and rode off on horseback into a presumably unwinnable Revolution where he threw himself time and time again directly into the line of fire and afforded himself no special privileges. He practiced what he preached and he fell to his knees and prayed for the courage and discipline and restraint to not be so weak in his manliness to fail so again. He wrote eloquent letters, authored his own speeches, and scribbled down his own moral guide consisting of 101 Rules of Civility (at the age of 16), all of them using a bottle of India ink and a bird's feather while under the light of a lantern or a fireplace fire. He refused to be a King when he could have been, causing even King George III to remark, "If true, then he is the greatest man in the world." His name and his life made it all possible. He had one dream to live by to FREE ALL Of MANKIND from ANY kind of tyranny, then and forever. 

They sound pretty similar, right? But one thing's for sure, while George Washington reluctantly took the mantel as America's President, Cap had the offer but declined (in super-heroic fashion I might add).

Awww yeah baby, Captain America is always loyal to the dream.


Okay, enough with the history lessons. I'm sure we all know why Captain America is so awesome. But how about that awesomeness within the comic book stories themselves? In this write up, I have arranged 10 of the best Captain America moments in comic book history. These are the moments that have best exemplified what makes the character truly inspiring, not only to his peers but also his enemies as well. And to be honest, Cap has been around for such a long, long time that there are literally hundreds of moments to choose from. But the ones that I've listed here, I believe, best capture the inherent spirit, attitude, and greatness of the man, the myth and the legend of what Captain America is all about. Maybe you'll agree, maybe you won't, but each moment listed here is a testament of why Captain America is one of comicdom's greatest champions and my hero...


10.) THE AVENGERS #59 and 61 (2002)
"...a gift of gratitude."






The first great Captain America moment on this list is a two-parter. We all know the majestically proud and powerful Prince Namor, right? He is the undisputed ruler and lord of the seven-seas. So Namor is use to being in charge of large armies and loyal patrons who wait on his every whim. While he is not the most likeable Avenger due to his short-fuse, enormous ego and willingness not to listen to those he considers beneath him (he's ruler of 71% of the planet and has always had problems with the surface-folk, so that's a lot of people). He does however, respect and admire one other living being possibly more so than himself. And that person is non other than Captain America. Cap has lead Namor in the Invaders during WWII and with the Avengers during the present and the Sea-Prince has never questioned his authority...ever. So when it came time for this particular Avengers meeting and Namor was being his typical "charming" self. He cracked the sacred Avengers table due to his temper and stood at the head of the table due to his ego. That is, until Captain America walked into the room. At that moment, Namor sees the error of his ways and steps aside as Cap takes to the head of the table without saying a word when Namor says, "Excuse me, Captain." The rest of the Avengers smirk as the pompous Namor is quickly put in his place. If that wasn't enough, a few issues later Namor replaces the table with another from the finest craftsmanship his undersea kingdom has to offer. Namor called it "a gift of gratitude." But we all know it was his way of saying sorry and showing Captain America the proper respect he deserves.


9.) THE INFINITY GAUNTLET #4 (1996)
"As long as one man stands..."





Captain America is a man without any fear, despite the obstacles set in front of him. The showdown with Thanos in The Infinity Gauntlet has to rank as one of his all time bravest moments. But this moment requires a little background to fully appreciate it. The story centers on Thanos who attempts to impress the Marvel Universe’s female personification of Death. That’s right, he literally wants Death to love him. So he achieves this by gaining the Infinity Gauntlet and the six Infinity Gems which combined give him the powers of God. Not a god. THE GOD. He first tries to gain Death’s affection by literally killing half of all sentient life in the entire universe by snapping his fingers. Of course, the heroes of the Marvel Universe don’t take this standing down. They oppose Thanos and fight him…and promptly get destroyed. When all hope seems lost, when all of the heroes seem defeated, Captain America is among the last standing, still alive and fighting on. What does he do? He walks straight up to Thanos’ face and talks smack. He says that as long as there is one person alive who opposes him, then Thanos will never win. He then starts to fight him with nothing but his shield. THAT takes testicular fortitude. Of course, Thanos quickly defeats him. Cap even gets his trademark shield shattered in the progress. But this act of defiance in the face of certain death is just the kind of thing that Captain America does on a daily basis.


8.) THE AVENGERS #63 (2003)
"Stand. Your. Ground."









Setting the scene: 2003 (our time). In the Eastern European nation of Slokovia, a movement of people worshiping Thor and Asgard has taken hold among the populace. The ruling junta doesn't like this, and targets the Thor followers for genocide. They pray to Thor for help, and he brings down the host of Asgard. To counter, the junta buys a lot of advanced weaponry from Dr. Doom and the surrounding countries are getting nervous, as are the US and Russia. Doom is using his ability to remotely control the weapons to ratchet up the situation. The Pentagon sends Iron Man in to intercede with Thor, but America has troops massed at the border in case that fails. Russia has bombers in the air, with orders to blow up everybody if the US gets involved. World War III is imminent, as Doom chuckles. And it's all up to Cap to prevent it. This is yet another fantastic example of Cap's authority. Here we see Cap trying to keep the American military from escalating a tense situation with the Russians as he commands the US soldiers to stand their ground despite orders from the President himself. So who do you think the US soldiers are going to listen too? Who would YOU listen too? Yeah, you and me both.


7.) CAPTAIN AMERICA #332 (1987)
"Cap leaves"



Captain America's belief in doing what’s right has put him at odds with the American government several times. In this issue, Cap is approached by the shadowy Commission, an organization within the US government. They want to make Cap an official part of the US government, effectively making him their puppet. This comes right after the discovery that one of the highest ranking members of the government was the leader of the terrorist organization known as the Secret Empire. Realizing that this violates everything that he stands for, Steve Rogers turns in his uniform and shield and retires as Captain America. He would go on to become the Captain while others would try to take his place as Captain America (failing miserably). Of course, Steve Rogers would later take the shield and cowl back. But his point was heard: Captain America represents the American people and their freedoms, not the government. It was a moment that demonstrated the height of Cap’s integrity and proved that he was anything but a political puppet of the American government.


6.) CAPTAIN AMERICA #25 (2007)
"Cap's last words" 



Although the death of Captain America was nothing more than a marketing ploy, nobody can deny the sweet tragedy of Cap’s death written by Ed Brubaker. It was shocking to find Cap dying not on a battlefield, but on the courthouse steps where he was doing his civic duty. And what really drove the whole story was the scene of Cap’s last words: “ Sharon…the crowd…get them to…safety…no more…innocents…hurt…” Even in death Cap wasn’t concerned with catching his killer, he wasn’t even concerned about his own welfare. He was concerned with the crowd, the crowd that was shouting and insulting him the entire time he was going up the courthouse steps (due to the entire Civil War event). He was concerned about the people who had turned on him and demonized him. This, if anything, proves Cap’s true colors. He is an upstanding true hero. He is a defender of the weak. He is…Captain America.


5.) CAPTAIN AMERICA #454 (1996)
"We ALL remember."  










Okay, this issue has so many great Captain America moments that I had to put every page of it on here. With this being the LAST issue of Mark Waid's awesome run, that went all out in showcasing Cap's greatness. Cap goes after Sharon Carter and finds out what her game is. She’s trying to use a device to draw an Asian warlord out of hiding so she can assassinate him. She figures that with him dead, the government he formed would collapse, and eventually resistance fighters will build up to the point where they can rescue all the people stuck in a prison camp (a prison camp that Carter herself spent some time in in the past). When Cap sees the prison camp, well, he has a different take on the situation and shows her a better way. I guess you should just read the pages above for yourself and cry like I do every time.


4.) CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #1 (1941)
"America shall gain the strength and will to safeguard our shores."




How could this list be complete without Captain America's amazing origin? Simple, it can't. Captain America Comics #1 was the very first appearance of Captain America…and what an appearance it was. Its cover, drawn by the legendary artist Jack Kirby, remains one of the most striking moments in early comic history: Captain America literally punching Hitler. Considering that this comic was released nine months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the official entry of America into World War II, it was an incredible reflection of American sentiment. And the story itself showed the world that there was a new hero in town and he simply fought for you and the American way of life.


3.) CAPTAIN AMERICA #17 (1999)
"But you will never take my strength."




Captain America’s arch-nemesis Red Skull had managed to capture a Cosmic Cube and used it to literally reshape the world to his image. Trapped in Red Skull’s hellish vision of America, Captain America fought back valiantly. But then, Red Skull literally drained Cap of his super-soldier serum, robbing him of his enhanced strength and abilities. Confident of his victory, Red Skull was shocked to find that Captain America still wasn’t going to go down without a fight. With his trademark costume sagging around him, he yelled out that he may not have his muscles, but he will never lose his strength. This was easily one of my greatest Captain America moments ever and (of course) moved me to tears. Cap then gives the Red Skull the ass-kicking of his career. It’s one of the most triumphant Captain America comics of all time, proving that Cap is more than just another character with enhanced abilities…deep down, he is a man who refuses to give up, to surrender, to retreat in the face of evil. This powerful scene proves that you don’t need powers to be a true hero. It gives hope that deep down inside, we all have the ability and courage to become superheroes. Thank you Captain.


2.) THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #537 (2007)
"No, YOU move."          




It seems like Captain America is at his best when he is giving long, patriotic and inspiring speeches that we can't help but rally behind. It's impossible to deny his ability to cause goosebumps and tears in us by merely talking. There are many famous speeches in Cap’s history, many of which have even made it onto this list. But perhaps no single speech has so powerfully and chillingly captured the true spirit of Captain America as his speech in this issue written by J. Michael Straczynski. It wasn’t about governments. It wasn’t about laws. It’s was about doing what you believe is right. Yes my friends, this is the stuff of legends. Remarkably, Cap’s only in this issue for a few panels, but the man steals the entire show. There really isn’t even much more I can say about it. Just read it in the panel above and discover it yourself. Then stand up and salute the old red, white and blue like you never have before.


1.) DAREDEVIL #233 (1985)
"I'm loyal to nothing, General -- except the Dream."

While all the other moments on this list are truly incredible. This Captain America moment is without equal in my eyes. Captain America may be loyal to his country, but his ultimate loyalty is held for its people and the high ideas that it was founded on. In fact, this dogged loyalty to the higher ideals of what America stands for has frequently put him at odds with the government that he was sworn to protect. In this issue written by Frank Miller, Daredevil and Captain America square off against Nuke, a mentally unstable reject from a program meant to replicate Cap’s super soldier serum. The government claims that he is a terrorist, but Cap discovers the truth about him. Appalled that the government would not only use, but employ, such an insane and violent psychopath, Cap confronts the general in charge of the program. The general has the gall to question Cap about his loyalty to the United States and the government. Cap’s answer is simple, “I’m loyal to nothing, General -- except the dream.” The entire scene is quiet and subdued, but it's as powerful as any comic book, novel, movie, etc. could ever hope to get. It proves that Captain America is anything BUT a mindless pawn of the government. He has sworn to protect not the bureaucrats in office, but the liberties and freedoms that they are supposed to preserve. This phenomenal scene proves that you don’t need a fight, monologue, or splash page to capture the true spirit of a man…of a hero…of a patriot. This is not only Captain America's greatest moment, but his greatest story as well and nothing will ever change that. Go get 'em Cap!!


HONORABLE MENTION

THE ULTIMATES #12 (2003)
"You think this letter on my head stands for France?"
 



I had to throw this here due to the fact that it could've made my top 10 list, but since it is the "Ultimate" Captain America and not the original, it can't be listed. BUT that doesn't mean it still can't kick ass! Here, Nick Fury sees the alien leader, Kleiser beating Cap down and shoves his gun next to Kleiser's eye, shooting, and dropping him. Kleiser gets up, with a huge hole in his head, which heals, and begins to beat down on Fury. Having no challenge with Fury, Kleiser focuses again on Cap, telling him he should surrender because he can't win. This enrages Cap as he head-butts Kleiser down and stabs his shield into Kleiser's body screaming: (read the panels above because my type won't do it justice). Then Cap takes Fury to safety who then contacts a soldier in a helicopter to traumatize Bruce Banner (who is also on the chopper) so he can change into the Hulk and thoroughly kill Kleiser. While this version of Captain America was a lot more brutal and messy than the real deal Captain America, he was no less as inspirational. 
 



Agree? Disagree? Let's get it on solider!


Check out other Hero Envy "Top" Lists:

Top 10 Most Evil Villains in Comics

Top 10 Superhero Capes of All Time

Top 50 Greatest Marvel Slugfests of All Time (1961-1999)
http://hero-envy.blogspot.com/2011/05/marvels-top-50-greatest-slugfests-of.html

The Top 20 Greatest Stretch Figures of All Time
http://hero-envy.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-top-20-stretch-figures-of-all-time.html 



   John "The Mego Stretch Hulk" Cimino
John Cimino is a Silver and Bronze Age comic, cartoon and memorabilia expert that runs a business called "Saturday Morning Collectibles." He buys, sells, appraises and gives seminars on everything pop culture, so if you got something special, let him know about it. He contributes articles to ALTER EGO, BACK ISSUE and THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR from TwoMorrows Publishing and has appeared on the AMC reality show Comic Book Men. He also represents some of comicdoms biggest stars and brings them to a Comic Con near you. John still thinks he's really Captain Marvel, people just don't have the heart to tell him he's just an obsessed fanboy that loves to play superheroes with his daughter Bryn. Contact him at johnstretch@live.com or follow on twitter at @Elastic_Hulk and have some fun.