The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Bill Eggert

April 5, 2014

BILL EGGERT | Captain America: Sentinel of liberty for 70-plus years

JOHNSTOWN — When I was a kid reading comic books, my two favorite superheroes (Batman and Captain America) were not really super; maybe that is why they were my favorites. They were ordinary guys who did extraordinary things. Captain America (or, known by his beloved nickname: “Cap”), besides having an interesting origin, also had the distinction of being frozen in suspended animation near the end of World War II, and brought back to life 20 years later perfectly preserved and not aged during those two decades. He was a man out of time, like Rip Van Winkle, only staying forever young, like Dick Clark.

This weekend “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” opens in movie theaters across the country. This sequel to the very successful first Captain America film (from 2011) deals with the reappearance of Cap’s best friend and military partner, Bucky Barnes, thought to have perished during World War II. In this sequel, Bucky also was placed in suspended animation for decades, brainwashed and trained by the Soviet Union to become the “Winter Soldier.” The film also features the Black Widow, the Falcon and Nick Fury; all associates and allies of Cap.

As a kid, I loved Cap’s colorful, patriotic costume and his amazing shield, made of a special  steel. The shield functioned as a defensive weapon (shielding Cap from bullets, ray guns, etc.) as well as an offensive weapon, with its circular shape allowing it to be thrown at opponents as well as ricochet off buildings and even return to Cap like a boomerang.

It was amazing what uses Cap was able to employ with his shield.

Prior to World War II, Cap, then a scrawny young man named Steve Rogers, was rejected by the Army as 4-F.

However a military officer saw a strength of character in Rogers that he felt was perfect for the candidate for the “Super Soldier” experiment, involving a serum and “Vita Ray.”  Rogers was to be the first of a long line of these Super Soldiers. However, a Nazi infiltrator murdered Professor Erskine, the formula’s creator, leaving Rogers the sole recipient of the experiment. And so Rogers became a private in the Army, and helped the military on secret missions as Captain America.

The character, created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby and launched in December 1940, became Timely’s (Marvel’s predecessor) most popular character during World War II. It was writer Stan Lee, along with co-creator/artist Jack Kirby, who resurrected Cap in 1964, by having him rescued by the super-group the Avengers.

Frozen in suspended animation, Cap was revived into a new, modern world.

What appealed to fans of that era was the fish out of water element.  The stoic, noble hero of another generation dealing not only with modern technology, hip, new heroes and society’s mores, but also the grief of having lost his young sidekick in their final act of heroism during World War II.

An entire two decades was lost to Steve Rogers; it was a strange, new world to him.

It did not take Cap long to get back into action, fighting modern villains (as well as his old, archenemy, the Red Skull) and ultimately becoming the leader of the Avengers themselves. It was exciting stuff  for grade school kids like myself.

Cap was brave, resourceful, humble and tragic all at once.  He was the ultimate fighter. His legacy and reputation grew quickly.  Asgardian god Thor said he would follow Cap into the gates of Hades in battle. And Cap was only one of a few humans allowed to be able to wield Thor’s mighty hammer.

A few years ago writer Ed Brubaker had Cap killed off, much to dismay of fandom everywhere. It was a brilliant move, in retrospect, making people appreciate what Cap meant to everyone. It also made folks realize how his absence would impact the world.

Brubaker also brought Bucky back to life as the Winter Soldier in an equally brilliant move. He ultimately brought Cap back to life, much to the relief of everyone. After all, old soldiers never die ... and if they are Captain America, they certainly won’t fade away either.

Bill Eggert is a Johnstown resident. He writes an occasional column.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Bill Eggert
  • EGGERT AND CHILLY BILLY Bill Cardille brings back childhood chills

    One of the nice things about moving back to this area was being able to connect with childhood heroes from local television. Some, like Paul Shannon (“Adventure Time”) and Hank Stohl (“Popeye and Kinesh”), unfortunately have passed on. Others, like wrestling champ Bruno Sammartino and Bill Cardille (“Chiller Theatre”) are happily still with us.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • EGGERT6 Riverboat reverie on ‘uncle time’

    Thoughts of the summer months bring to mind annual weeklong vacations with Granny, Pop-Pop and Uncle Don in Pittsburgh. One memorable summer, “Unck” took me to see the Delta Queen riverboat, sitting majestically in the Monongahela River, moored at the Mon wharf.

    July 5, 2014 2 Photos

  • Bill Eggert Columnist Photo Bill Eggert | ‘Whatever it takes’: remembering Chuck Noll

    Once upon a time there was a colorful yet inept professional football team, owned by an equally colorful Irishman who participated in sports during his younger days. Unlike their crosstown professional baseball and collegiate football team counterparts, the pro football team never tasted the sweet nectar of success for about 40 years. That all changed in 1969, when Steelers owner Art Rooney and his family found a wise, humble and grounded 37-year-old man named Chuck Noll.

    June 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill Eggert columnist  photo Life after Dad: A Father’s Day reflection

    One of my dad’s favorite movies was the 1947 classic “Life With Father,” starring the great William Powell (coincidentally also born in Pittsburgh) as the stern but lovable family disciplinarian.

    June 7, 2014 2 Photos

  • Bill Eggert columnist  photo BILL EGGERT | Hollywood’s take on the Great Flood

    About 37 years after the Great Johnstown Flood of 1889, Hollywood decided to make a motion picture of Johnstown’s most catastrophic event.

    May 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • EGGERT4 75 years of Batmania: The Dark Knight’s evolution

    The appeal of Batman is universal. We can identify more with Batman.
    Local resident Wayne Faucher has been a professional artist/inker on the various Batman titles for over 20 years.

    May 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill Eggert Columnist Photo Travelogue of terror features Johnstown area

    A historic week will surround the venerable Silver Drive-In come the beginning of May.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Bill Eggert BILL EGGERT | Captain America: Sentinel of liberty for 70-plus years

    When I was a kid reading comic books, my two favorite superheroes (Batman and Captain America) were not really super; maybe that is why they were my favorites.

    April 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • BILL EGGERT AND FRANK COONELLY BILL EGGERT | Pirates: a rite of spring

    Opening day for the Bucs is March 31. Every year, hope springs eternal for Pittsburgh Pirate fans. Especially for the past two decades, since outfielder Barry Bonds’ errant throw allowed gimpy-kneed Sid Bream to score the come-from-behind winning run for the Atlanta Braves in the 1992 National League Championship Series.

    March 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill Eggert BILL EGGERT | Going home can sometimes be only walking distance

    One of the most popular topics during my eight years of writing this column is the one of looking into the past of the Johnstown (and my areas of Moxham and Richland) of my childhood. A lot of baby boomers relate to these time trips with a sense of nostalgia, remembering a kinder, simpler, more innocent era. Or at least that is the way we remember our childhood, looking through those rose-colored glasses.

    March 8, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

     View Results
Order Photos


Photo Slideshow

House Ads