Faculty Advisor

Gomez, Andrew

Area of Study

Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Publication Date

Summer 2019

Abstract

In 2016, Captain America brought comic books to the forefront of national discussion with a single phrase: “Hail Hydra.” These two words proclaimed Captain America’s allegiance to Hydra, one of Marvel Comics most recognizable villains which has historically been used as an allegory for the Nazi Party. The moment incited a riot not only among comic book super fans, but casual onlookers as well. Many claimed that by aligning Captain America with Hydra author Nick Spencer disregarded the character’s origin as an anti-Nazi propaganda piece and later history as a defender of American values, and gave fuel to the growing Alt-Right movement in the United States.[1] However, this moment was not the first time that Captain America had joined the other side. In 1979, Captain America was briefly brainwashed into joining the National Force, an organization which acted as a clear allegory for the various white nationalist movements gaining power in the United States at the time.

While Hydra and the National Force are comparable villains, the lenses through which the writers of both storylines present them reveal how views of white nationalism have changed in the United States. Through a comparative analysis of these two storylines, this paper examines the ways in which the Captain America comic books have reflected the shift in white nationalist movements from a largely condemned movement to a viable political force. This paper provides a new lens to examine the history of white nationalism in the United States while building on the current body of scholarship arguing for the importance of comic books as a historical source.

[1] Abraham Riesman, “That Time Captain America Said ‘Hail Hydra’ and Geekdom Imploded,” Vulture, last modified April, 28 2019, https://www.vulture.com/2019/04/marvel-hydra-captain-america-nick-spencer.html.

Publisher

University of Puget Sound

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