Wednesday, June 5, 2019

It Pay$ To Be A $ymbol of America


Name This Marvel Villain??

Since this opportunist isn't the type to hide his light under a bushel--and that goes double for his patriotism--we can hardly be coy about revealing his identity:

Yes, the Super-Patriot has hit New York City, to celebrate with all Americans not only the Fourth of July but also the restoration of the Statue of Liberty. And if you're thinking, "Wow! This is a guy who sure lives up to his name!", then you've fallen for his act hook, line and sinker.

As we can see, the Super-Patriot is on a mission--a publicity blitz, one that will make him a household name and, in the process, supplant Captain America as the country's new patriotic symbol. Obviously the man has embraced the long-held belief that America is "the land of opportunity," and is expecting quite a return on his pitch.  But as we'll see, his methods will bear scrutiny.

Cap, on the other hand, has seen his "star" dim a bit because of the fallout from having been forced to take the life of a man in his conflict with the terrorist group known as Ultimatum. And so he attends the Super-Patriot's rally in Central Park in order to lift his spirits--but what he sees in this man is someone who is pulling the wool over the eyes of his audience for personal gain.

The Super-Patriot goes on to break up a "sudden incident" involving the "Buckies" ("Bold Urban Commandos")--racist fanatics wearing Captain America masks who rush the stage and physically attack him in defense of Cap's seemingly new stance on the use of guns to kill his foes. Cap, watching from the crowd, sees right through the act, as the Super-Patriot makes short work of the armed intruders and wraps them up for the "police" who arrive on cue to take them away.

At the end of the episode, the Super-Patriot grabs the mic and makes the most of what the crowd have seen with their own eyes--promising their safety from these rabid, violent supporters of Captain America and making a push for a general election to replace Cap as the country's national symbol.* (With himself as that symbol, of course.)

*Cap's status as the national symbol, however, is by Presidential order and not subject to electoral vote, as specified in detail at a government hearing which Cap will attend later--and which would essentially accomplish the Super-Patriot's goal for him, though the crowd is sufficiently whipped up to serve his purpose for now.

But while the Super-Patriot and his agent, Ethan Thurm, take their victory lap at a midtown restaurant, Cap decides to address this problem at the source.  (In shades, no less.)

A quick call from Thurm, and Cap, still in his civilian guise, is set upon by the Buckies. It's a fine display of Cap's resourcefulness and abilities against these three bruisers, especially considering how he must improvise with his concealed shield.  During the fray, we also learn that the Buckies have undergone the same strength augmentation as those in the Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation.

Cap doesn't get his wish as far as the Buckies snitching on the Super-Patriot; but the fight has helped him to sort out how to deal with the problem with his image--holding a press conference and explaining frankly why he acted as he did in using lethal force against the Ultimatum agent yet  stressing that his attitude toward killing remains unchanged, in addition to offering to be held accountable by the authorities for his actions.

Cap's public move has given Thurm one less stratagem for his client to use in his bid to supersede Cap as America's symbol--but the public relations game is one of patience, and soon enough the activities of the Buckies have again caught his attention when a campus international house is vandalized, one of many such incidents that make it clear that the Super-Patriot is manufacturing a crusade against "terrorists" by targeting foreigners in an effort to make Cap appear to be a reactionary bigot.

Inevitably, the paths of Cap and the Super-Patriot cross once more, this time at a charity rock concert in Milwaukee to aid the homeless--an event which offers public exposure that the Super-Patriot takes full advantage of.

Again, the Super-Patriot's attempt at provocation fails; but this time, without Thurm to ride herd on him, he decides to settle matters with Cap once and for all--and the all-out battle between these two breaks out in earnest.

So far, so good for Cap, considering the raw strength his foe is displaying--strength on par with that of the Super-Patriot's augmented flunkies. But with his shield now unavailable to him, Cap must meet his opponent hand-to-hand--and only one of these fighters is truly able to take the pace and the punishment that's being dished out in this fight.

Things go slowly downhill for Cap from this point, as he becomes caught in a government play to have him operate exclusively within their directives--and faced with their ultimatum, he makes the painful decision to cease being Captain America. Meanwhile, however, things are looking up for the Super-Patriot, following a tense encounter with a looney-tune named Warhead, a man who would probably have fit in well with the Buckies.

Not surprisingly, the media react as Thurm had hoped after prodding the Super-Patriot to intervene in the situation.

From here we could assume that the Super-Patriot will be able to write his own ticket, while Thurm no doubt is doing cartwheels. But a fateful meeting would derail the career of the Super-Patriot, and instead give this man an entirely new calling.

As you may have guessed, the man we've been watching here is of course John Walker, who would find his contest with Cap settled a different way when he receives an offer from the Feds that he can't refuse:  to become the new Captain America. You can see how that all works out in a follow-up post; but to make a long story short, Walker would eventually segue to the identity of the USAgent. All of which unfortunately means that the payoff which Ethan Thurm envisioned evaporates almost overnight--but as any agent knows, that's life in the fast lane.


Big Murr said...

93% of my knowledge of USAgent and John Walker comes from the run of Mighty Avengers. From his attitudes here in his introductory days, I see those stories didn't exaggerate one bit.

Mighty Avengers #31: a major rumble against an Inhuman threat invading China. A deadly gas is reverting all humans to an even more primitive version of their Alpha Primitives. John Walker (along with many other Avengers) has succumbed. Quicksilver knows his teammate well, though. "I know this man. He may be a primitive fool now, but trust me...there's an even more primitive one inside!" (pause) "WALKER! If I can't get to that big man, and fast, the Commies win. Walker clears a path in a charge that would make Juggernaut envious.

Mighty Avengers #32: Our Heroes meet Norman Osborn's Dark Avengers. USAgent: "Director Osborn. It's an honor, sir!" Hercules: Zounds, man! Must thou be such a tool?"

Comicsfan said...

Herc was never one to worry about subtlety, was he? :)

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