Image Discussion – Captain America (Pride Fan Edit)

It’s been a hard couple of days. And a hard week, so I didn’t do a post last week and will be doing two this week. But especially the last two days. Time to do my first image discussion post like I mentioned awhile back. I’m going to try not to say too much about it and let people take it in whatever direction they like.

The image I’m posting for discussion was shared in a Facebook group as a reaction to the Orlando shooting. The person who shared it doesn’t know who did the edit and I haven’t been able to figure it out either, but it’s originally from a variant cover by Paolo Rivera for the first issue of a new (in 2012) Captain America series. You can see that cover and the artist’s description of making it here, but I recommend waiting on that a bit. In my Biblical Studies classes I was taught to read first without any background and draw my own conclusions, then seek out commentaries and other resources. I think that probably works for interpreting anything – art is a conversation, and your initial uninformed reaction to it as a viewer matters. That in mind, here’s today’s image.


Open discussion in comments. Feel free to share whatever stands out to you or that you want to note for others.

After you’ve looked at it for a bit, here’s some optional questions in case you need some help getting started.

1 – Do you like it?
2 – Do you think it’s good? (Those really are separate questions. :D)
3 – How do you feel looking at it, and/or what does it bring to mind for you?

1 – If you follow comic book news, Steve Rogers/Captain America might seem like an odd choice right now. How do you feel about using his image this way in light of the current series?

2 – Why do you think the character was chosen? Who would you have chosen if you were going to do something like this?

3 – What message or idea do you think the image represents? Does it seem true or realistic? Does that matter to you?

4 – Did you read (or are you familiar with) the series this comes from? Does that change the way you see it at all? If so, how?

That’s all I’ve got for now. See you in the comments.

7 thoughts on “Image Discussion – Captain America (Pride Fan Edit)

  1. *narrow eyes* I think it ate my first comment. Or I’m not patient and it just hasn’t shown up. But there have been shenanigans before so I copied it before I hit submit! Hah!

    So if this is a duplicate essay, delete it. Sorry!

    *cracks knuckles*


    1. Yes. I like this style of art. Not sure what it’s called, I’m certain it has a specific name, but this kind of…almost cut out? I guess parts of it remind me of blocky cut out art but then it’s got a very muted palette that I enjoy. I’m not against bright colors in certain situations but I do tend to find this kind of color set more enjoyable. And it’s very poster-y. (Such technical words flying around here.)

    2. I think it’s good. It’s stylized, so realism and proportions aren’t *as* important, but it’s still fairly well proportional within itself (meaning body parts to body parts, buildings to buildings) and I don’t notice anything super wacky even between Captain America’s size vs. the background building, given perspective and blah blah.

    3. I feel like I would like Steve Rogers to give me a hug. Not just because he’s attractive (though he is) but because as he’s properly portrayed he’s a very comforting guy and who doesn’t need comfort right about now? And I’m apparently just a physical enough person that I would take that hug. I might also take the opportunity to bask in the glory, but that’s neither here nor there. :p

    It makes me think of the ideal version of America. I feel like this image represents what we *should* be as a nation, as opposed to what we actually are.


    1. Jesus. Again, whoever thought up this current comic story line and all the people who passed it through to the point where it actually got published are morons. Yes, let’s take Captain America, the symbol and bastion of *waves hands* American Values(tm) and make him a Nazi. That seems good. And let’s ignore that the character was created by two Jewish men. Because again, how could this possibly go wrong or be offensive? HOW?!?!?!


    Okay. In spite of the idiocy occurring in the series right now, I think using this image is still appropriate. Because Captain America/Steve Rogers has stood for the *good* in our nation for a lot longer than the current mistake that he’s being used for. Captain America is what we *want* to be, what we should be. And he still represents that, no matter the idiocy of the people currently writing him.

    2. Because he’s Captain America. Partially you can trace this to the current popularity of the MCU, the recent give Captain America a boyfriend campaign (which is silly, he has a boyfriend it’s Bucky, pay attention people) and the fact that Civil War was just recently out and one could argue that part of Steve’s position in that movie was in standing against reactionary extremism and fear of people who are ‘other’. The only other character I think might have been appropriate, given me the same feeling of…swelling patriotic pride in the *ideal* of America and our unity would be Superman. But given the difference between the popularity of MCU vs DCcU movies sort of necessitates that Cap would be the more popular choice.

    3. I kind of answered this in the general question #3, but this makes me feel the *ideal* of America and what we should be. This is what America should be standing against, tyranny, oppression, racism, injustice, bigotry, hate, in all their varied forms. And that means *all* Americans should defend against these things, and defend our fellow human beings against these things. The fact that that includes the LGBTAQ+ community shouldn’t need to be said, or hinted at, but it is sometimes necessary to say it and the change to Cap’s armor paneling is a fairly subtle inclusion.

    I guess whether it’s true/realistic is maybe a harder question for me? I think it’s true that this is the ideal of what we should be. It’s not the reality we live in, however. And it does matter, especially the gulf between those two points. I don’t think we’ll ever get to the point where the ideal is the reality, because people are the worst, but I think we need to continue to work to the ideal since the alternative is sinking into the morass of our own fears and ignorance.

    4. I haven’t been reading the current run, no. Mostly because until recently we didn’t have a local comic book shop in my area, so I wait for the trades to come out. And I’ve been gravitating back to the DC side of things with my obsession with all things Tim Drake coming back to the fore. So I have to admit that right now most of my Marvel interaction is coming from MCU, Ms. Marvel and the Fraction run of Hawkeye. And fanfiction. Which is arguably better given the current state of the Cap.


    1. Good idea! I have it set so I have to approve comments before they show up. I *thought* that if I approved someone already their comments go through automatically afterwards, but I know of at least two people that I have to approve every time they post. No idea why. Anyway, sorry for the confusion!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I feel like I’m going to wind up repeating a lot of the same ideas when I answer these for myself later…I’ll avoid that for now because I don’t have a lot of time. Specific quick things!

      General #3 – I want a Steve Rogers hug! …Definitely thinking more of the MCU version, I’ll admit. Comic book Steve never seems all that huggable to me. But Evans made him a teddy bear and I think that retroactively gets worked into my overall idea of the character.

      Specifics #1 – I really, *really* hope the writer is lying and the Hydra thing will be a misunderstanding. The descriptions for upcoming issues make it seem like that might be a possibility. But if I’m wrong, I agree that it’s still the overall legacy and what he’s meant to fans for so long that matters, not whatever Spencer has planned for the next however-long-until-Marvel-hits-reset.

      #2 – Bucky or Sam. I kind of really like him with Sam. But either/both is good. 😀 Also, this seems appropriate.

      #3 – “The fact that that includes the LGBTAQ+ community shouldn’t need to be said, or hinted at, but it is sometimes necessary to say it and the change to Cap’s armor paneling is a fairly subtle inclusion” and “but I think we need to continue to work to the ideal since the alternative is sinking into the morass of our own fears and ignorance.” Yes, so much. Makes me think of the importance of little things. It might not seem like much against all the bad in the world, but it matters. Every little thing is a step closer to the ideal than we were before.

      #4 – Ah, I might have to re-word that. I meant the 2012 series the original cover art comes from but I probably didn’t talk about that enough since I was focusing on the edit and current events. I wasn’t reading Cap then and I’m not reading it now, because I had to pull back for financial reasons. But if I was going to add one back, it would definitely be Ms. Marvel first. Good choice there.


      1. *Everyone* wants a Steve Rogers hug. It’s a fact of life. He’s the most comforting human being in existence. MCU Steve, yes. Comics Steve is occasionally a jerk.

        HYDRA. There is no excuse for making Captain America HYDRA even for .02 seconds of a nightmare. NONE.

        To be honest I could see all three of them together. They probably already have a portmanteau name. *Googles* Winter Birds? But where’s the Steve in it all? There’s not even an eagle on Cap’s uniform.

        Ms. Marvel is *best*. BEST. Though I do enjoy Loki: Agent of Asgard too. I have a thing. For Loki.

        Feel free to judge. I care not.


      2. Agreed, no excuse for Captain HYDRA. Even if somehow it’s not at all what the author meant (because it’s not how I would have read it, based on scans I’ve seen online although I haven’t actually read it so I could be wrong) and he just went with it when people interpreted it that way, or even if it’s just a “gotcha,” it’s not cool to even pretend it’s true as a writer for the comic. But it is sort of weird and interesting to me that even now that the cat’s out of the bag and the summaries could talk about Steve *as* an agent of HYDRA, the descriptions still have him fighting them instead. Either there’s something a little more complex going on or they want us to believe there is.

        But I still don’t plan to buy it to find out. I always hope that goes for everyone who’s angry about stuff like this and they won’t sell a lot of comics built around destroying a beloved character or something gimmicky like that…but when I went to the comic book store last week I saw they were completely sold out of that issue. I’ve never seen them sell out of a Captain America comic. So that’s disappointing. As much as people complain, it gets people to go check it out so the companies are rewarded for this kind of nonsense.

        Winter Birds does seem like a weird name for them. Slightly related, Stark Spangled Banner is the best ship name ever.

        Loki’s cool. Is that one kid-Loki? Pretty sure he’s in Young Avengers, which I’ve been wanting to read because it’s the same writer and artist of my favorite series (The Wicked and the Divine). Haven’t gotten to it yet, though, so I’ve really only seen Loki in the Ms. Marvel Valentine’s special. That was cute.


  2. Ok, my thoughts.

    To be honest, I wasn’t sure posting this was a good idea. Was the bullet imagery too close so soon after a mass shooting? If I used it at all, should I use the fan edit or just go with the original, since it’s such a small change anyway?

    Though I’m still not sure I made the right decision, I posted it because it affected me strongly. I had decided to pick something else, but my thoughts kept returning to this throughout the day. And I decided maybe it would speak to others as well. As for the fan vs original, that’s why I link to the original artist’s blog – I figured both factor into this discussion and the edit really just brought it back to the surface and applied it directly to this particular issue. So I will probably refer to both in my comments.

    G1. I do like it. It’s a very simplified style and I think that lets it be more symbolic and not get dragged down into realism. Captain America is very much a symbol to me, moreso than other heroic characters, and when the real world seems hopeless, that symbolic status lets him and what he stands for rise above all that. Yes, in the real world all these things get you down, and there’s no magic shield to protect us from the actual solid bullets real world enemies might send our way. But Cap doesn’t represent the real world. He represents the best world, the best version of our country and ourselves. It’s a symbol that gives us something to strive for, and I think that comes across well here.

    G3. I feel accepted and included. I think that may be the biggest thing that makes the tiny edit important – it’s Cap not just standing for America as a whole but for the marginalized within it. Whoever’s being oppressed, that’s where he is and who he’s supporting, because America can’t be its best if we’re treating anyone badly or leaving anyone behind.

    S1. Ugghhhhh. Okay so I really do think they’re lying and it will turn out Steve’s not HYDRA after all and blah blah blah. I hope. So I think this will be a silly question a few months from now, a year at the most. But it’s still an issue now and it still bothers me. I’ve had such a hard time explaining to some friends why this matters at all, why I would care what the comics writers do with a fictional character. And it kind of goes back to that answer to G1. He’s not just a fictional character, he’s a symbol. And while I understand the urge to approach heroes in new ways to make them more realistic and conflicted, that doesn’t feel true to him. That’s not who he is. But I’ll leave that alone because I could do a whole essay on Cap and that’s not the point here. 😀

    I still think the image works. Maybe even because of what’s happening in the comics right now (or what people think is happening). The story from the writer being repeated in all the comics news is that Cap is now a tool of the oppressor. This character that has always been a safe space for me has been turned into the enemy. That seems to fit in with what happened at Pulse. And reclaiming those safe spaces is part of fighting that oppression. Calling back to earlier Cap as a symbol of freedom and protection is a way of saying “NO” to the way he’s being used right now. I don’t accept the idea of Captain America as an oppressor and I don’t accept that we should let real world oppressors take our safe spaces from us and make us afraid to be ourselves. The Captain America I know as a symbol of protection and liberation still exists, and here he is standing firm for all our rights.

    S2. Captain America is very much my symbol of anti-oppression and there’s no one else I would have chosen over him even with the HYDRA mess. Personally. But at the same time, if I had been the person editing and posting this, I would have thought twice. I would have wondered if he doesn’t mean the same for others anymore and if it might be inappropriate, so I probably would have done the edit for myself and picked someone else to share. Wonder Woman, maybe. Not so much a symbol of America, but definitely a symbol of protection and liberation, particularly against patriarchy and hate. I think folding homophobia into that makes sense.

    S4. I was not reading this at the time and I don’t really know how the character came across in that series. I might go back and read it now, especially if I can find it at the library. Because I don’t know the specific context for this cover and this part of Captain America’s story, I respond to it based on my overall idea of the character, which is a mix of cartoons, appearances in other comics, movies, etc. I do sometimes wonder if the idea I have of the character is inconsistent with the comics and if maybe he’s not as much a symbol of ultimate goodness as I think he is. But that’s who he is to me, and that definitely affects the way I respond to any image of him and any appearance in any work.


    1. I think you made the right decision. So there’s two of us. Go us?

      If we were going to avoid imagery too close to shootings in the US, we’d never be able to use bullets in anything. Because America.

      And I think the fan edit is important, in context. Though I did go look at the original art as I was making my comment, just to see what all had been changed.

      S1. I think it’s less about looking at the character in a different way and more about being ‘edgy’. The Nolan-verse Batman movie did really well and there was a lot of gritty ‘realism’ and face-heel changes throughout. Though we could talk about turning Ra’s al Ghul into a white guy, because really, was that necessary at all? At all?

      You’d think Marvel would have the spine to stand on their own though, I mean they’re doing a lot better than DC in general, but hey. What do I know?


      1. That’s true. 😦 I guess I meant more that it was specifically a response to a shooting, and I wondered about the imagery of bullets just harmlessly bouncing off the shield like “this idea will protect you” when 49 people were just killed by a single person with a gun. I think that hope is important even while we recognize violence and oppression will still happen, and I don’t think anyone would take it literally like that, but I guess I could see someone thinking it was insensitive and trivializing.

        Ah, movies. And “dark and edgy” comics. They can stay in their little dark corner. I’m just going to be over here reading about rock stars. And kids with pet dinosaurs.


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