Tags: stan lee | spiderman | incredible hulk | captain america

Why Did Stan Lee Erase Captain America's 'Commie Smasher' Days?

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Wednesday, 14 November 2018 05:05 PM Current | Bio | Archive

It seems as though the entire world is mourning Stan Lee, the writer whose fertile imagination made comic books cool.

Lee, who died Monday night at 95, created Spiderman and the Incredible Hulk for Marvel Comics and he co-created Iron Man. All became staples of the contemporary culture thanks to the hit “Avengers” movies, several TV series and numerous online games. 

Lee wasn’t present at the creation of Captain America, Marvel’s most durable character, who debuted in March 1941 with the costumed hero red, white, and blue on the cover punching out Adolph Hitler (nine months before the U.S. was at war with Germany).

But, as Stanley Lieber (his birth name), the young Lee wrote Captain America’s third issue and helped the character go on to sell more than 210 million comic books in 75 countries. 

After “Cap” was out of commission for several years, Lee in 1964 revived him with a story in which the legendary hero is found frozen in ice and thus in suspended animation since the end of World War II.

It is here that fans of Captain America and Lee himself voice perhaps their only strong criticism of the comics genius:  how could he claim his hero was “on ice” for twenty years when there were comic books from 1945-55 showing Captain America fighting a new kind of evil: Communism.

Featured under his own title as well as varied Marvel comic titles such as “All Winners,” “Young Men,” and “Men’s Adventures,” Private Steve Rogers became a high school teacher after his discharge and, as Captain America, continued his fight against evil. The evil now was Communism because Communists, as the good captain himself said in Young Men #24, are “the Nazis of the 1950’s.”

Captain America voiced that view in a story in which he is called on to rescue the United Nations after its headquarters is seized by Soviet agents. Masterminding this plot is none other than Cap’s old arch-enemy the Red Skull -- formerly a top operative under Hitler but now working for the Kremlin.

“Captain America, Commie Smasher,” was actually the title of the comic book series in 1954. In issue #77 (July 1954), he is shown swinging into action against Soviet agents under the heading: “Striking Back at the Soviet.” 

In issue #78 (September 1954), fans are warned “How Much Suspense Can You Stand?”  before they “See Captain America Defy the Communist Hordes.”

Captain America often worked with U.S. intelligence agents to stop Communist spies at home and sometimes abroad. In a story entitled “The Betrayers,” (May 1954), he helps expose a photographer who is leaking classified information to the Kremlin. 

In the same issue, “Come to the Commies!” foreshadows the Vietnam War a decade later: worried about Americans making propaganda broadcasts for the Communists in the Indo-China Theatre of War (when Ho Chi Minh’s Communists fought the French), Captain America parachutes behind enemy lines and poses as a defector. Learning that the captured Americans are drugged into making the broadcasts, our hero exposes the plot on radio and frees the prisoners.

Not only did Captain America battle the Kremlin and its spies here in the U.S. but, in a story in issue #77, he helps an anti-Communist Chinese-American thwart Red agents from Peking who are blackmailing Chinese expatriates into sending money to Mao Tse-Tung’s regime.

When comic book heroes dropped their appeal during the mid-1950’s, Captain America faded from the newsstands. Since Marvel revived him in 1964 to vast popularity, its official line has had him frozen in suspended animation since the end of World War II and thus preserving his youth and strength

With no explanation as to what happened to Captain America adventures in the later 1940’s and ‘50’s, Stan Lee clearly did not want to re-visit the anti-Communist era with their reborn hero.  Asked repeatedly about this discrepancy, he has told skeptical audiences at comic book conventions he forgot about Cap’s post-war stories. 

In recent years, Lee and Marvel cooked up a story in which the Captain America of the 1950’s was a history scholar named William Burnside who had his appearance surgically altered to look like Steve Rogers—which raises the question of how he could ever know Captain America’s secret identity. 

Burnside/Rogers donned the costume of Captain America but developed a mental illness which led him to falsely accuse other Americans of Communist sympathies.  The military eventually captured the flawed hero and had him frozen cryogenically.

It goes without saying that fans weren’t buying this.

Stan Lee was clearly a creative genius and someone who not only created characters that lasted such as Spiderman and the Hulk but revived others who came back with a bang.  The one question lingering is why he left out such an important part of the saga of Marvel’s most lasting of character of all. 

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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It seems as though the entire world is mourning Stan Lee, the writer whose fertile imagination made comic books cool. Lee, who died Monday night at 95, created Spiderman and the Incredible Hulk for Marvel Comics and he co-created Iron Man.
stan lee, spiderman, incredible hulk, captain america
Wednesday, 14 November 2018 05:05 PM
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