Welcome back True Believers! You know coffee and comics are two of our favorite things—and they go together so well! Thus, each week in this space we offer the top five comics we are enjoying with a cup of our coffee. We also love our community and want to know what you are reading and what Coffee 'n' Capes coffee you are drinking. Share your reading and drinking choices with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And. here. we. go:
This week's featured coffee is America’s Roast. This single origin light roast from the Sidamo Province of Ethiopia features tasting notes of berries and citrus with complex acidity. You might find America’s Roast is best for giving you the necessary inspiration to lead others against alien invasions, Nordic deities, and surviving being frozen in the ice for decades. A cup or two of this delicious coffee will have you saying, “I could drink this all day.”
Now on to the comics!
Tomorrow, November 8th is Election Day here in the United States. Seems like a great time to be reminded of who we are and who we can be by the most inspirational hero we’ve got: Captain America. he end of one of these books puts it, “a promise of hope for the future.”
5. Captain America #1 (1941)
You read that correctly, 1941! The very first issue of Captain America. So what’s the first rule of Captain America from the character’s creators, Jack Kirby and Joe Simon’s? Punch Nazis! Always punch Nazis. Check out that wonderful cover. One of the great aspects of the Marvel Unlimited app is that you get to read classics like this very first issue of Captain America. Sure, you have to wade through the typical ’40’s “gosh, gee whiz, golly” hokeyness, but it is worth it, by gum, by golly! With this issue on the app we get four separate stories, called “cases” here. The final one has Cap and Bucky facing off with none other than the Red Skull. You might be surprised how that caper ends! I know I was. An odd item of note that I truly was not expecting: Steve Rogers smokes a pipe. Like a lot, a lot. Every time he’s back in his Army uniform he pick up that pipe. Who knew?! Nor was I expecting two quite weird bonus tales of The Hurricane and Tuk Caveboy (don’t ask). Still, this seems like a great time to go back the beginning to see how my childhood favorite character got his start.
4. Sam Wilson: Captain America #1
From writer Nick Spencer and artist Daniel Acuna comes the story of what happened after Steve Rogers passed on his shield and the mantle of Captain America to his long-time friend and ally, Sam Wilson. Sam, with Misty Knight on his team, tussles with Hydra and Crossbones. But the toughest enemy he faces is his reputation and public sentiment. That’s one of the biggest strengths of this book and this series. It dives in unafraid, facing head on what the reaction might be if a beloved figure were to have a Black man in the role. It goes about as well as you might expect. But that doesn’t stop Sam, he keeps doing and saying the right thing because that is who Captain America is and what Captain America does. Also, Steve Rogers shows up on the last page, but not for reasons you might expect. In closing, Redwing is awesome. ‘nuff said!
3. America Chavez: Made in the U.S.A. #1 (2020)
Taking a break from all the Captain America love to spend some time with everyone’s favorite portal-punching, dimension-shattering, super strong hero, America Chavez! Written by Kalinda Vazquez with art by Carlos Gomez and Jesus Aburtov, this book offers hints at America’s start in the USA, the family who took her in, and a mysterious figure from her past who is out for revenge! What’s that all about? What happened between America and the hooded stranger? And why are America’s powers occasionally glitching out, always at the exact wrong time no less? Check out this book and find some answers!
2. Captain America #1 (2018)
This is the first issue of renowned writer Ta-Nehisi Coates’ run on the book, with art by Leinil Francis Yu, and covers by the unmistakeable Alex Ross. Captain America is “a soldier at home or away. A man loyal to nothing…except the dream.” Cap is back after being replaced by a Hydra agent wearing his face (aka the events of the Secret Empire event), but will the people accept him or trust him? It is not a given. As Steve muses, “We’ve forgotten how hard it is to believe in the dream. To hold onto the dream in the face of chaos. How hard it is to be truly American.” Steve and Bucky try to stop cyborg Nukes, while Sharon Carter provides back up. Sharon, don’t call me Agent 13 anymore, is back too but is now much older than Steve. (She was trapped in the Zola dimension…or something. Thunderbolt Ross is back too. It’s all very comic book-y!) Coates is one of our greatest living writers and he doesn’t disappoint with the multifaceted story he puts Cap through. It is well worth your time!
1. The United States of Captain America #1 (2021)
Written by Christopher Cantwell and Josh Trujillo with art by Dale Eaglesham and Jan Bazaldua, and another gorgeous cover by Alex Ross in celebration of the 80th anniversary of Captain America. Cap’s shield has been stolen! That’s the action that moves the story along. Cap and Falcon try to get it back and meet different versions of Captain America all across the country. These are regular people all, inspired by all the previous versions of Captain America to help folks in their community who need someone to be on their side. They are a “loose network of Captains America” indeed! It is all very creative and fun as this story lets us see Cap at work outside of his usual New York/D.C. habitat. But for me, what really takes this story (and 5-book mini-series) to the next level is how egalitarian it is, right from the start. It is beautifully philosophical—poetic, even. Take a peak inside Steve Rogers’ mind:
The first American dream is the one that isn’t real. It’s the one some people expect to just be handed to them. And they get angry when it disappears. When the truth is, it never really existed in the first place. This is the White Picket Fence fallacy that, if we’re not careful, becomes nationalism, jingoism. That dream was never real. Because that dream doesn’t get along nicely with reality. Other cultures. Immigrants. The poor. The suffering. People easily come to be seen as ‘different’ or ‘un-American.’ The fence becomes a gate to keep people out. A good dream is shared. Shared radically. Shared with everyone.
Tomorrow, November 8th is Election Day here in the United States. I hope you vote. More than that, I hope you take Captain America’s words to heart and vote to keep America—like comic books and geek culture!—a place where everyone belongs. I hope you vote like a superhero: looking out for the most vulnerable among us.