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Fighting Yank. Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Fighting Yank. Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

12 Patriotic Superheroes Other Than Captain America

Fighting Yank. Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Fighting Yank. Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Captain America—created by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon—is 75 years old, and he’s never been more prominent thanks to Marvel's terrific movies (the third of which, Captain America: Civil War, hits theaters May 6). While Cap is the most successful and enduring patriotic superhero, he’s far from the only one. There have been many flag-wrapped heroes in the long, weird history of comics. Before you buy your ticket for the latest Cap movie, take a moment to salute his forgotten cousins, spoofs, and predecessors.

1. MISS AMERICA

This Quality Comics hero with a pageant-y name has a very Captain America-like origin: Joan Dale was a product of Project M, a U.S. super soldier program. Miss America had the impressive power of molecular transmutation: she could turn stuff into other kinds of stuff. Miss America became part of the DC Universe when DC bought the Quality Comics heroes, including such gems as the Red Bee and Bozo the Iron Man (no relation to Tony Stark).

2. AMERICOMMANDO

Though he was also called Mr. America, Tex Thompson deserves to be remembered for the much awesomer name of Americommando. Like Indiana Jones, he had no superpowers but was good with a whip. Like Superman, he debuted in Action Comics #1—not as Americommando or Mister America, but a plain ol’ cowboy hero.

3. YANKEE POODLE  

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There have been many comic book dogs—such as Krypto the Superdog and Ace the Bat-hound—but no pooch as patriotic as Yankee Poodle. As Jon Morris points out, a meteor accident enabled this star-spangled canine to shoot stars and stripes from her paws. Our dogs won’t even roll over.

4. NUKE

Created by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli in their '80s classic Daredevil: Born Again storyline, Nuke is the rare patriotic hero who puts the U.S. government in a negative light. A product of the same program that produced Captain America, Nuke didn’t turn out quite so spiffy: He’s a freaky killing machine with a flag painted on his face and red, white, and blue pills to calm him down or turn him loose. The future Nuke appeared on the first season of Jessica Jones as Will Simpson.

5. UNCLE SAM

Uncle Sam has been the personification of America since at least 1813, but he’s also been a superhero since National Comics #1 in 1940. Appropriately, Uncle Sam led a group of heroes called the Freedom Fighters.

6. FIGHTING YANK

This character, created in 1941, is one of several patriotic superheroes that hearken back to the War for Independence. Bruce Carter III is visited by an extremely patriotic apparition: his ancestor, Bruce Carter I, who reveals the location of a power-granting magical cloak. Sometimes that’s all it takes to be a patriotic superhero.

7. LIBERTY BELLE

Wikimedia Commons // Fair Use

Like many DC characters, World War II hero Liberty Belle is part of a superhero legacy. Just as new Flashes and Green Lanterns replace old ones, Liberty Belle is the descendent of Miss Liberty, a hero of the Revolutionary War. Liberty Belle is one of the most literal heroes in the very literal world of comics: her powers are triggered by, you guessed it, Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell. Move over, Bat-Signal.

8. THE CONQUEROR

Created by comics legend Bill Everett in 1941, this bombastic character gained superpowers from a Cosmic Ray Lamp—which may need a bulb change, since he didn’t last beyond a mere four appearances. The Conqueror is featured in Jon Morris’ wonderful book The League of Regrettable Superheroes. Morris offers an apt description of the Conqueror: “Brutal, relentless, humorless, and dressed a little like a waiter in an ice cream shop, the Conqueror didn’t skimp on action.”

9 AND 10. THE STAR-SPANGLED KID AND STRIPESY

That doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as Captain America and Bucky, does it? Truthfully, there’s not much worth knowing about this duo except for one cool fact: They were created by Jerry Siegel, one of Superman’s co-creators. One of this duo’s main nemeses was the unfortunately spelled Doctor Weerd. They are slightly more impressive than another patriotic duo, Yank and Doodle.

11. THE SHIELD

By far the most important patriotic superhero other than Cap, the Shield debuted in 1940 (over a year before Captain America) and features the same star-spangled outfit, a very similar super-soldier origin, and the same Nazi-fighting early adventures. In fact, the reason Cap carries a round shield is that his original triangular shield looked too much like the symbol on the Shield’s chest. This unfortunately forgotten character has been revived several times over the years, including in a current ongoing series for Archie’s Dark Circle line. One difference: This time, the Shield is a woman.

12. AMERICAN BARBARIAN

This is perhaps the strangest entry on the list: the American Barbarian—real name Meric—is a Conan/Thundarr type with red, white, and blue hair who fights evil hordes with the mystical Star Sword, which leaves a trail of red, white, and blue in the air, and lives on the planet of Earthea in the distant future. The comic describes Earthea as being populated by “Roving mutant armies, legions of the risen dead, renegade robots, wild herds of genetic supermen, roving citadels on wheels, science experiments run amok, swirling matter-devouring black holes, re-animated dinosaurs, the sewer people of New New New York…” Plus a massive evil pharaoh named Two-tank Omen. American Barbarian partakes of the spirit of Captain American co-creator Jack Kirby but is completely its own thing, thanks to the exuberance of writer/artist Tom Scioli.

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Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
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Deadpool Fans Have a Wild Theory About Who Cable Really Is
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Deadpool 2 is officially in theaters and ruling the box office just like its predecessor did back in 2015. But this installment is about more than just crude jokes and over-the-top action scenes; it also includes the debut of a longtime Marvel character that fans have been clamoring to see on the big screen since 2000’s X-Men hit theaters: Cable.

But the Cable in Deadpool 2 isn’t quite the one fans have gotten used to in the books—for starters, his powers and backstory are reined in considerably. While it’s easy to assume that’s by design, so that audiences can better relate to the character (which is played by Josh Brolin), some fans have speculated that the changes are because, well, this character isn’t really Cable at all; instead, Screen Rant has a theory that this version of the character is actually none other than an older Wolverine from the future.

So how can Wolverine be Cable? Well, it’s actually quite easy, considering that Wolverine was Cable in Marvel’s Ultimate Universe comics, which was a series of books in the 2000s that completely reimagined the regular Marvel Universe. In this reality, a grizzled, aged Wolverine takes on the Cable nickname and travels back in time to prevent a takeover of Earth from the villain Apocalypse.

We were already introduced to Apocalypse in 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse, and while he was defeated in the end, Screen Rant theorizes that he could return like he does in the Ultimate X-Men comics: by inhabiting the body of Nathaniel Essex, a.k.a. Mister Sinister. Essex was already name-dropped in Apocalypse and Deadpool 2, so it stands to reason that there might be some larger story on the horizon for him.

This would, of course, lead to more X-Men movies down the road, with Cable revealing his true nature and teaming with a crew of mutants that includes the classic X-Men cast as well as their younger selves to battle a newly formed Apocalypse. It’d also allow the character of Wolverine to live on in Brolin, leaving Hugh Jackman to enjoy a retired life without claws.

Obviously this is just one fan theory based on a comic storyline from over a decade ago. It would also have to ignore a whole host of continuity problems—including the events of Logan. But having a twist with Cable actually being Wolverine from the future (and likely from a different reality) is the type of headache-inducing madness the comics are known for.

[h/t: Screen Rant]

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King Features Syndicate
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8 Things You Might Not Know About Hi and Lois
King Features Syndicate
King Features Syndicate

A comics page staple for nearly 65 years, Mort Walker and Dik Browne’s Hi and Lois is a celebration of the mundane. Married couple Hiram “Hi” Flagston, wife Lois, and their four children balance work, school, and family dynamics, all of it with few punchlines but plenty of relatable situations. This four-panel ode to suburbia might appear simple, but it still has a rich history involving a beef with The Flintstones, broken noses, and one very important candy bar wrapper.

1. IT’S A SPINOFF OF BEETLE BAILEY.

Beetle Bailey creator Mort Walker had been drawing that military-themed strip for four years when a friend of his named Lew Schwartz approached him in 1954 with a new idea: Why not create a strip about a nuclear family? Around the same time, the Korean War was ending, and Walker had sent Beetle home on furlough to visit his sister, Lois. Drawing a line between the two, Walker decided to pursue the suburbia idea using Lois as connective tissue. Hi and Lois was born: The two strips would see their respective characters visit one another over the years.

2. A CANDY BAR HELPED DEFINE THE STRIP’S LOOK.

Already working on Beetle Bailey, Walker decided to limit his work on Hi and Lois to writing. He wanted to collaborate with an artist, and so both he and his syndicate, King Features, went searching for a suitable partner. Walker soon came across ads for both Lipton’s tea and Mounds candy bars that had the same signature: Dik Browne. Coincidentally, a King Features executive named Sylvan Byck saw a strip in Boy’s Life magazine also signed by Browne. The two agreed he was a talent and invited Browne to work on the strip.

3. HI ORIGINALLY HAD A BROKEN NOSE.

As an artist, Walker had plenty of input into the style of Hi and Lois: Browne would later recall that trying to merge his own approach with Walker’s proved difficult. “When you draw a character like Hi, for instance, you immediately set the style for the whole strip,” he said. “You have already dictated what a tree will look like or how a dog will look, just by sketching that one head.” In his earliest incarnation, Hi had a broken, upturned nose to make him seem virile, puffed on a pipe, and wore a vest. Through trial and error, the two artists eventually settled on the softer lines the strip still uses today, an aesthetic some observers refer to as the “Connecticut school style” of cartooning.

4. EDITORS WERE WARY AT FIRST.

When Hi and Lois debuted on October 18, 1954, only 32 papers carried the strip. The reason, Walker later explained, had to do with concerns that he was spreading himself too thin. At the time, cartoonists rarely worked on two strips at once. Between Hi and Lois and Beetle Bailey, there was fear that the quality of one or both would suffer. Editors were also worried that having two artists on one project would dilute the self-expression of both. Walker stuck to his intentions—to make Hi and Lois a strip about the small pleasures of suburban life—and newspapers slowly came on board. By 1956, 131 papers were running the strip.

5. TRIXIE MAY HAVE SAVED THE STRIP.

With readers a little slow to respond to Hi and Lois, Walker had an idea: At the time, it was unusual for characters who don’t normally speak—like Snoopy—to express themselves with thought balloons. Walker decided to have baby Trixie think “out loud,” giving readers insight into her perspective. Shortly after Trixie began having a voice, Hi and Lois took off.

6. CHIP IS THE ONLY CHARACTER TO HAVE AGED.

Like most comic strip casts, the Hi and Lois family has found a way to stop the aging process. Baby Trixie is eternally in diapers; the parents seem to hover around 40 without any wrinkles. But oldest son Chip has been an exception. Roughly eight years old when the strip debuted, he’s currently 16, a nod to Walker's need for a character who can address teenage issues like driving, school, and dating.

7. IT LED TO HAGAR THE HORRIBLE.

Browne might be more well-known for his Hägar the Horrible, a strip about a beleaguered Viking. That strip, which debuted in 1973, was the result of Browne’s sons advising their father that Hi and Lois was really Walker’s brainchild and that Browne should consider a strip that could be a “family business.” By 1985, Hägar was in 1500 newspapers, while Hi and Lois was in 1000. Following Browne’s death in 1989, his son Chris continued the strip.

8. IT ALSO HAD A BONE TO PICK WITH THE FLINTSTONES.

The Flintstones, Hanna-Barbera’s modern stone-age family, premiered in primetime in 1960, but not exactly the way the animation studio had intended. Fred and Wilma were initially named Flagstone, not Flintstone, and the series was to be titled Rally ‘Round the Flagstones. But Walker told executives he felt the name was too close to the Flagstons of Hi and Lois fame. Sensing a possible legal issue, they agreed.

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