Captain America 275
This issue from J. M. DeMatteis’ wonderful (and largely unheralded) Captain America run, got a bit of attention a few months back, when the internet freaked out over whether or not it was okay to punch a Nazi.
It all begins when Steve Rogers seems genuinely surprised when a Jewish protest at a (literal) Nazi rally becomes violent. (Millennials, I give you: 1982.) Of course, Steve slips away in the confusion, and Captain America saves the day!
A few months back, a lot of people argued online that Jack Kirby himself would rise from the grave and kick Captain America’s ass if he ever heard him utter such nonsense. In an early 2017 interview, DeMatteis stood by his portrayal.
Now, regardless of how one feels we all have to admit that the argument against punching a Nazi seems strained at least a little bit when it is being made by a guy who punches Nazis in the face professionally.
But, anyone who used Captain America 275 to argue that Captain America (or J.M. DeMatteis) was supporting passive resistance (or even pacifism) in the face of Nazism clearly didn’t read the next issue.
Captain America 276
Because, look what’s happens at the beginning of Captain America 276:
When confronted with physical violence, Captain America responds with physical violence. (And please note that Captain America’s violence – while effective – was not lethal, even though his enemy’s attempted violence was.) When read in context, then, it’s clear that DeMatteis’ point isn’t that non-violence is the best response to Nazism, but rather that physical violence should only be used defensively – when confronted with physical violence.
To put it another way: good guys don’t shoot first. In Star Wars, it’s important that Han shot first because it’s important that Han isn’t a good guy when Luke meets him. Making him start the film as the kind of guy who wouldn’t shoot first ruins his entire character arc. To be sure, not shooting first isn’t always the smartest course of action. And yes, it makes life more dangerous for the good guys. But those are the rules.
To further drive this point home, Sam – who is clearly presented a good guy – allows himself to be arrested for his attempted assault, and lets Captain America know that he was correct to stop him.
Other Comics I Read from August 1982
- Amazing Spider-Man 234. 235, Annual 16
- Avengers 225, Annual 11
- Captain America Annual 6
- Cerebus 41
- Daredevil 189
- Hercules 3
- Ka-Zar 21
- Marvel Fanfare 5
- Marvel Team-Up 123
- Twisted Tales 1
- Vision and the Scarlet Witch 1
- Wolverine 3, 4