Steve Rogers is a Drug Taking, Sexist, Mutant-Fearing, Judgmental Jerk!

As I was browsing the shelves of my local comic book store this past Wednesday, I noticed a comic book from Marvel with the Heroic Age banner, titled, Super Heroes.  I stopped and thought to myself, "Well that's an awfully generic name for a comic book."  So I picked it up and opened to reveal another Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe type book, very thick, with what looked like character cards for all the active super heroes in the Marvel Universe.  It was pretty standard, a headshot, team affiliations, short bio, pros and cons and and a Power Grid.  I almost put it back after dismissing it, but then I paused and took a closer look.  

Oh my god am I glad I did.  In that one moment, I may have found one of the best books Marvel has published in years.  I'm telling you people, this was nearly the pick of the week, but it's not actually a comic book, so it was ineligible.  What this book so special? Well sit down and journey with me into the insane mind of Steve Rogers.

The thing that tipped me off that this was an odd book was the Power Grid.  I expected to see categories like strength, intelligence, agility – that sort of character card type data.  But I noticed that the categories in this grid were more…open to interpretation.  Categories like Power, Altruism, Conscience, Courage and Free Will.  I thought that these were somewhat odd things to be reporting the heroes levels on.  I wondered who was making these judgments, so I flipped to the first page of the book.

On the first page of the book I found a long page of prose in a very small typeface.  I've provided it here, to the right, for you to read yourself (click to open it full size in a pop up window).  To save you time, I'll summarize what this page of prose explained:

The prose was "written" by Steve Rogers, after Siege, when he was made the "top cop" by the President of the US, overseeing all of the Marvel Universe's United States based heroes.  Steve wrestles with the concept of heroism and what makes a hero and wonders who is he to led these heroes.  So he seeks out his answers from a "higher power"

Steve calls upon, "Black Crow, a Navajo mystic who calls me brother."  Black Crow "places" Steve into a "deep meditation" and guides Steve through "The Dreamscape" where he meets a "figured robed in white" named Veritas, or also known as "Sayge, the spirit of truth."  Veritas and Steve sit and have a discussion about what attributes make a hero.  Veritas explains to steve that the 8 attributes: Power, Conscience, Altruism, Wisdom, Courage, Determination, Free Will, and Vulnerability are, all together what makes heroes more or less heroic. After this "meditation" ended, Steve found the need to sit down and review, rate and document nearly 200 heroes of the Marvel Universe, gauging their level of heroism.

So, basically Steve got really messed up on peyote, had an imaginary conversation with a spirit in his head, and then in a peyote induced fever dream, judged all his fellow heroes and wrote it all down.

No, I am not making this up.

That sounds screwed up, right? Well wait until you see some of the things he wrote.  The entire text drips with passive aggressive undertones, morality judgments and sometimes out and out sexism, mutant racism, and a little bit of homophobia.  It's also at some points, extremely succinct and to the point, proving that the efficient soldier, Steve Rogers did indeed write this.

Don't believe me? Don't want to spend the $3.99 to find out?  I've got some highlights of some of my favorite entries here to share with you, just to show you what I mean.

Now, I couldn't scan them ALL, so I just scanned a few.  If you click on the images, you can open them up in a pop up window to read the entire thing.  You can see how insane these "Power Grid" ratings are and how completely arbitrary they are.  But the real gold is in the "Pros and Cons" section, that's where Steve Rogers really shines and shows us what he really thinks about his fellow "heroes". 

Succinct And To The Point
One of the things I was most impressed by Steve Rogers assessments was how he cut to the chase and distilled each hero down to a few points, both good and bad.  In some cases, he cut through the niceties to the heart of the matter.

Take for example his assessment of Ghost Rider:
Pros: Loyal, Team Player; resiliant and strong willed – very spot on if you ask me, an honest assesment

Cons: Bonded to a demon and unpredictable at times – well Steve, that pretty much sums it up. "I could add Ghost Rider to the Avengers, ah, crap, he's bonded to a demon…"

So that gives you an idea of how Steve Rogers means business.  If you don't believe me, he really shows what's important in his assesment of Nick Fury:
Pros: Great leadership abilities, master battle strategist, superb hand to hand combatant – Again, absolutely spot on, he paints a picture of a great soldier.

Cons: Fury's hot temper and rebellious nature keep him from always being diplomatic with allies. Blind in one eye – Ok, I can get the rebellious nature and temper thing, but really Steve? Blind in one eye? You're going to hold THAT against him?

Sexism and Passing Judgment on Social Lives
And yet, in other areas, you couldn't help but sense a bit of judgment being passed on some of his fellow heroes, specifically the women.

I first noticed this with the Black Cat:
Pros: Very resourceful, stong-willed, clever and loyal – Given the Black Cat's past, I thought this was very big of Steve to see her good qualities

Cons: Shady past, questionable choice in associates, self serving at times – Shady past? Questionable choice in "Associates"? What is he referring to? Surely it's her checkered, criminal past right and not some dig at her dating history with Spider-Man? Steve is above that right?

But then, I saw the entry for Songbird of the Thunderbolts:
Pros: Solid sound construct generation, flight, debilitating sonic scream, natural combat tactician, skilled wrestler – That all seems about right, although I forgot about the "skilled wrestler" bit

Cons: Self esteem issues due to criminal past, troubled family background and checkered romantic history – Whoa, he just out and out said it! I can understand the self esteem thing, sure that's obvious, but "checkered romantic history"?!?!  Surely Steve isn't getting personal with these assesments

But then I turned to the entry for Hellcat:
Pros: Enhanced strength, gifted acrobat, claws, magic resistant, can alter appearance, mystically enhanced senses, minor psychic powers, extensive occult knowledge – well that was awfully specific, wasn't it, Steve?

Cons: Questionable taste in men, traumatized by time in hell during death (since recovered) – Now come on Steve.  "Questionable taste in men"?!?! Sure he was the son of Satan, but who are you to judge who she dates? We all have an ex that we're embarrassed about.  Not everyone else can be as perfect as you are, jerk.
 

Mutant-phobia
Post "Second Coming", we saw a tale of Steve Rogers and Cyclops bonding, and Steve basically inspiring Cyclops to be as public of a hero as can be, and even arranged for Cyclops to get a medal for saving lives.  So one could assume that Steve was supportive of mutants, right? WRONG.  This is all a cover so that Steve can get closer to the mutants, as evidenced by his clear lack of trust of them in the pages of this report. I couldn't scan all of the character cards because it was an overhwhelming number, but here's a few gems from the "cons" section of X-Men characters:

Cyclops: "put the needs of mutants over the rest of the population"
Dazzler: "Loyal to the mutant population"
Emma Frost: "While loyal, I'm unsure if it extends to humans"
Quicksilver: "Mutant chauvinist"

Steve's apparent hatred and distrust of mutants is clear as you read between the lines of his assessments, constantly separating "mutants" from "humans." 

Homophobia
Now I know how strong an accusation of homophobia is on a person, so I'm not quite sure Steve is 100% there, and I'll give him that he's from the past, another time when the world was less…accepting.  But come on, he's the real Captain America, shouldn't he support everyone? After his clear hatred of mutants, I had to raise an eyebrow at his assessment of the only gay character in the book (as far as I know), Northstar:

Pros: Trained super hero with a long history of teamwork – good words that kind of seem like Steve doesn't know anything about Northstar or his power set, but I won't worry about that too much

Cons: High amounts of media controversy; focuses on mutant causes primarily – Read between the lines here people. "Media controversy" is a thinly veiled dig at Northstar because he's gay.  Oh and he's a mutant too, even more reasons to hate.  Clearly Steve doesn't know anything about Northstar or else he would have slammed him for being Canadian, but more on that in a moment.

Miscellaneous

The insanity doesn't stop there, but sadly I'll need to wrap this up soon.  Some other great moments from this book is Steve's unwavering allegience to the United States, which I completely understand and respect.  Hell, he was Captain America! Plus he's been hired by the President of the United States.  But as he searches for what makes a hero a "hero", does their country allegiences really matter?  Again, and overwhelming amount of distrust and judgment for foreign characters such as Captain Britain, Black Panther, Blade, Sabra even! When you start drawing lines between heroes based on borders, this entire book starts to read like an insane Nazi manifesto.

Beyond the loyalties issue, there's some hysterical bits:
Like when assessing War Machine, Steve comments in the cons that he has "been described as obstinate."  Not that he IS obstinate, just that he's been described that way. 

Or when looking at The Punisher, Steve gives him some props in the pros: "Tireless efforts spent curbing international criminal activity" something that we all can get behind.  But then cuts him down in the cons: "Frank Castle is a savage murderer" There's that Steve Rogers succinctness at it's best

Conclusion

I hope you don't misinterpret my analysis of this as a slam against Marvel or anything of the matter, this all comes from a place of love.  I spent hours as a kid pouring throught the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe and when things like this get published, I love it.  I'd be totally happy with a boring list of powers and group affiliations, but thankfully Marvel is here to enterain me through and through and chose to make this a drug induced ranting of a single minded insane mad man, and I love them for it.

But don't take my word, go to your shop and pick this up.  It was $3.99, and while seemingly expensive, it's thick, jam packed with interesting bits about the Marvel super heroes, and as I've shown you, will leave you cracking up for hours. 

And it doesn't stop here! In the back of the book, they tease that in November another issue is coming out, VILLAINS.  Sign me up.

 

side note: If you enjoyed this post, be sure to listen to this week's Pick of the Week podcast to hear me explain this entire thing to Josh and Conor – the results are as you would expect, hilarious.

Comments

  1. AWESOME article, Ron!  Cheers!

  2. Probably the greatest comics-related article I’ve read in months! Kudos, Ron!

  3. I knew it. All this time I was telling my friends that I didn’t trust Steve Rogers, but they just called me crazy. I was right!

  4. I kinda want to pick this up now.

  5. Damn.  I almost picked this up for my 9 yo.  No way I want him enticed to explore an alternate lifestyle by reading the North Star entry.  Whew!!  That was a close call.  He’ll learn about sexuality and drugs like I did, on the elementary school playground.

  6. This was pretty funny, I completely missed this at my shop.

    Who wrote this? I seriously would love to know if they’re any credits. Also, why is Black Cat pregnant in her picture? 

  7. When I got to "blind on one eye", I had to stop, I had tears on my eyes from laughing isterically…

  8. @odino1 Same here.  If I remember I’m going to ask them during show #350 what would Hallucinating Captain Steve would write for each of the fanboys under Pros and Cons.

    "Reacts poorly to extreme temperature shifts.  Low alchohol tolerance."

  9. Wow!  Thanks for this, Ron, you have started my day with a lot of laughter…I may now have to go back and get this book.

  10. Daredevil: lacks vision.
    Spiderman: makes girls scream and stand on chairs.
    Reed richards: lacks backbone.
    Sue richards: transparent.
    Hulk: ” coloured ”
    Stop me now, I could go on for hours…….

  11. I heard Steve Rogers was going to call the dossier "My Struggle", but then he remembered the German translation.

  12. I really, really hope that one of Daredevil’s cons is "checkered romantic history."  Also, Hawkeye.  Know who’s dated super-villains?  Captain America.  That’s really going to come back and haunt him.

  13. @Quinn – that’s the thing! he makes NO judgment on the romantic histories of any of the men.  Oh wait a minute, he does call Paladin a "womanizer" – but who cares about Paladin?

  14. This hurts me deep in my soul.  Cracktastic as it may be, it represents a PROFOUND misunderstanding of Steve’s character.  What even, Marvel?

  15. This just confirms all I’ve ever felt about Steve Rogers. At least Tony is upfront about being a dick. 

  16. On a serious note, I don’t think this says anything about Steve Rogers as a character,  but it DOES say curious things about the Marvel writers and editors who put this together.  The digs on the women’s love lives but not the men’s, for instance, isn’t Steve’s problem — it’s institutional sexism at work, and this is a stark reminder.

  17. Ron, as you know OHOTMU is my favorite thing on the Earth (save for my wife and kids), and largely responsible for turning me into a comic nut 30 years ago. I have been buying the new hardcover volumes religiously but TOTALLY missed this issue. Now I’m running over to Midtown later to cop it and read on the way home. WOOOOT!

  18. Hey now, throw the brother a bone. He’s gotta keep on top of every hero in the world, and to be fair, Songbird dated his evil Nazi arch-nemesis and Hellcat MARRIED the SON OF FREAKING SATAN! LUCIFER! You bet your ass I would include that in an employee evaluation!

    "Well, Sarah, you’re numbers are always spot on and you’ve been meeting all of your deadlines, but I can’t help but be concerned about that framed picture of Hitler in a speedo on your desk…"

    I picked this up too, on a whim, and damn was it funny. Still working my way through it, but nothing is gonna top that Nick Fury assessment.

  19. I gotta be honest… I think I’m missing the joke.  This stuff isn’t that funny to me… amusing, yes, but not laugh-out-loud.  But then, I’ve never liked those "Handbooks"; they’re just stilted descriptive prose.

  20. "Colonel Rodgers, sir, I was going over the briefing on Electro…"

    "And?"

    "Well… what does ‘troubling left-leaning tendancies during previous election’ have to do with anything?"

    "Everything, soldier. Everything."

  21. This sounds more like the Ultimate Cap, than the 616 Cap.

  22. steve’s review of man thing, pros: useful transporter, able to find ways through swamps.

                                         cons: smells like swamp.

                                    REJECTED 

  23. I’ll tell ya what’s impressive about this book: the attention to continuity. In The Gauntlet’s entry, Steve mentions that She-Hulk told him that he might be an inspiration to young heroes in a possiblw future. Now, that is based on ONE LINE of dialogue in ONE ISSUE of freakin’ SHE-HULK, like, 5 years ago. That is impressive.

  24. I’m really impressed by this. Someone did some serious research here, as well as take the time to write all this from Steve’s point of view. It’s not just another handbook, but a glimpse into a specific interpretation of Steve Rogers as a man. Nobody’s perfect, especially not our "heroes". Maybe Steve represents our country more accurately than a lot of us care to admit.

    @RaceMcCloud: Handbooks are more than just "stilted descriptive prose". When done well, they can be a fantastic reference for new readers, and serve as a refresher for us veterans. Granted, in today’s Wiki savvy culture, they may be less essential than they used to be, but I would argue that handbooks and who’s-who’s are still important. Especially when someone makes the effort to take a new, entertaining angle on a classic format like they have here.

  25. Nice article, Mr. Richards. The down side of having a pros and cons list is that it can take things of context and sound matter a fact or blunt. If you were to read only the pros and cons, I can see how people might interpret it as fill in the blank sexist homophobe judgemental etc. 

    A super hero WWII vet in post modern times is going to raise some eyebrows but regardless of Steve’s assessments, he respects the heros.

  26. I feel like whoever wrote this really didn’t think it through.   Which is interesting because I feel like they’ve done a pretty good job in the past with these kinds of dossiers — Nick Fury’s in "Secret War," and I think there have been some by Cyclops and Tony Stark in the past.  Possibly Steve’s voice just isn’t compatible with what they were trying to do here.

  27. well, he really does capsulate the spirit of America… just kidding i love U S of A. Number ONE! 

  28. I disagree with the mutant hating claim. The X-Men have always segregated themselves from other heroes and have always been about a mutant agenda first. So for Steve Rogers to point that out is simply reflecting what the X-men have always pushed.

  29. You hate mutants too!

  30. @Ron- be sure to glance at the December solicits for one tailor made for the X-Fans

  31. "Col. Rogers, we had a few issues concerning your report here… first and foremost, the repeated use of the racial epithet ‘Mutie’ is really unacceptable."

    "No, dude, but it’s cool! I have a friend who’s a mutant and he lets me say it to him all the time!"

  32. what a dick