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Captain America Epic Collection: Fighting Chance
Marvel Comics

Comic Books

‘Captain America Epic Collection: Fighting Chance’ suggests a concern for an unstable American ideal

Police brutality and coopted patriotism plague the Sentinel of Liberty.

From our particular, 2023 frame of reference, there is something insidious that can be read into Captain America Epic Collection: Fighting Chance. A distrust of exploitable mechanisms of American justice.

The book features not one, not two, but three distinct characters who are warped, dystopian corruptions of heroism, law, and the state. In a crossover with Nomad, that hero is converted, with surprising and alarming ease, into a Neo-Nazi by Psychology-is-Scary villain Dr Faustus. Next, Cap’s ex-girlfriend’s ex-husband (quite the chain) becomes a version of the Super-Patriot, a Cap parallel driven to the patriotic cause not by a sense of duty but, rather, a need to bring the true patriot low. He dresses as Cap and convinces the public that the hero has gone violently out of control – all in a bid to impress the ex-wife who kicked him to the curb for his abusive behavior.

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Captain America Epic Collection: Fighting Chance
Marvel Comics

Finally, we’re presented with the most palpably prescient and troubling character in Americop, a hyper-violent lawman with a predilection for shooting men as they lie prone and brutalized on the ground. Hulking, white, and made faceless by a blank mask, he could stand in for any victimizing abuser of police privilege. In a post-Blue Lives Matter queasiness, we might see the eerie precognitive streak; while Americop hasn’t commandeered the Punisher logo as a sign of intolerance and symbol of violence against people of color, we know it’s only a matter of time.

Captain America Epic Collection: Fighting Chance
Marvel Comics

Though we wouldn’t want to read today’s political landscape into the thirty-year-old work of a now-deceased writer, it is important to note that police brutality was in the media heavily even then. The Rodney King beating in 1991 was excruciatingly fresh in everyone’s mind by Americop’s June 1994 debut.

The same year Americop arrived, Peter L Davis, an Associate Professor of Law at Touro College, published the alarmingly titled paper “Rodney King and the Decriminalization of Police Brutality in America” in the Maryland Law Review. Davis introduces the statistics of officer assault cases filed between 1990 and 1992: 86, an incomplete number due to the rarity of reportage. He states, “From these numbers, it is clear that the federal government is not making the slightest dent in the problem of police brutality.”

Yes, the concern was very much on people’s minds at the time of Americop’s civilian-murdering antics in the pages of Captain America. Gruenwald and Americop co-creator, penciller Dave Hoover’s unknown personal politics aside, Fighting Chances suggests a very earnest concern about social instability in America. Patriotism is aped and made violent, our heroes might very well carry fascistic tendencies, and with the super soldier serum destabilizing in his veins, even the Sentinel of Liberty himself cannot find the literal strength to fight back. At one point, he is even arrested,  his validity and rights questioned by a too-big-for-his-britches small-town sheriff.

Captain America Epic Collection: Fighting Chance
Marvel Comics

In the end, as they dangle from chains in the Indestructible Man’s mansion, Americop frees himself, abandoning Captain America – the very symbol of American justice – in order to load himself up on firearms and unleash his own, violent tantrum.

Cap himself, however, remains as viruistic as ever. He turns himself into those yokel cops so that they can stumble their way into actual justice; even besieged by a failing society, he goes out of his way to help secure medical care for Sidewinder’s tragically ill daughter.

Captain America Epic Collection: Fighting Chance
He’s even worried about these kids playing Tag Team too loudly because it might *hurt their poor ears*.
Marvel Comics

Steve Rogers ever remains the hero we hope to be – the charitable, social justice-minded advocate against corrupt forces and abusers of oppressive privilege. He looks out for the people being tread under a boot that wears the very same flag he does. Through the troublingly similar lenses of 2023 and 1994, he is an inspirational figure, standing for an often misunderstood or misappropriated ideal.

Fighting Chance isn’t a book about today’s exact troubles, but it highlights to a modern readers that those troubles have been around for a lot longer than they’d like to admit.

Captain America Epic Collection: Fighting Chance
‘Captain America Epic Collection: Fighting Chance’ suggests a concern for an unstable American ideal
Captain America Epic Collection: Fighting Chance
Though buried in the giant-torsoed mid-'90s schlock, Fighting Chance expresses a very earnest concern about the American reality.
Reader Rating1 Votes
8.2
Influenced by the revelation of concerning truths about American violence.
Frighteningly prescient in our modern times.
Gruenwald always knew how to hype up Steve's generous kindness.
Steeped in the exhausting Liefeld-ification of American comics in the '90s (just a couple years before the actual Liefeld-ifcation of Captain America himself).
Hokey and sometimes instantly buried plotlines.
8
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