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New book explores virtues of Captain America

Independence Day is time to celebrate patriotic hero
by Matthew Price Published: July 4, 2014

Philosopher Mark D. White thinks a fictional character can help Americans find common ground.

White, professor and chair of the Department of Philosophy at College of Staten Island/City University of New York, argues that the principles and judgment shown by Captain America in the Marvel comics and films can help each of us in our daily lives. He’s written about these subjects in “Virtues of Captain America.”

“I really wanted it to be for a wide range of people who are interested about ethics and what ethics in the modern day mean, and issues about the political divisiveness in our country, and the example that Captain America can show to start to overcome that,” White said in an interview with The Oklahoman.

Captain America first appeared in “Captain America Comics” No. 1 in 1941. Captain America became one of the most popular war-time heroes, but his popularity waned in the postwar era. In the early 1960s, Stan Lee revived Captain America in the pages of “Avengers” No. 4, where Captain America became a hit, eventually headlining his own comic-book series.

“Very rarely does he appear in a comic book where some comment is not made about his honor or his integrity or his honesty or his courage or his leadership,” White said.

Independence themes

For Independence Day, White recounted some of the key Captain America storylines.

“The stories I was most drawn to ... were the stories where he confronts the United States government over some manner of principle,” White said.

Steve Englehart was one of the most prominent writers to tackle Captain America in the 1970s. In his storylines “Secret Empire” and “Nomad,” Captain America discovers a conspiracy that reaches the highest levels of the U.S. government. He’s disillusioned by what he’s discovered, and gives up the Captain America identity to become Nomad. “Secret Empire” ran in issues 169-176 of “Captain America.” “Nomad” ran in issues 177-186.

“I think the Englehart run was more tied into current politics, obviously that was during Watergate,” White said, noting that Englehart later stated the storyline was a comment on the end of the Nixon administration.

Roger Stern and John Byrne had a brief but memorable run on “Captain America” in the early 1980s, collected in the “War and Remembrance” hardcover edition. It features Captain America mulling a presidential run in issue No. 250.

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by Matthew Price
Features Editor
Features Editor Matthew Price has worked for The Oklahoman since 2000. He’s a University of Oklahoma graduate who has also worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and was a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund intern for the Dallas Morning News. He’s...
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