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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  

Wikimedia Commons // Fair Use

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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Disney/Marvel Studios
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Afternoon Map
Marvel vs. DC: This Map Shows Each State’s Favorite Comic Universe
Disney/Marvel Studios
Disney/Marvel Studios

Which comic book company is the best: Marvel or DC? This is a perennial argument on middle-school playgrounds and Reddit threads, but this map, courtesy of USDish.com, might just give us a definitive answer. The information here is broken down by state, using information provided by Google Trends to give us a clear winner of not only the most popular comic book company but also the most popular individual hero in each state (let’s show a little respect to Indiana for championing the Martian Manhunter).

According to the map, Marvel is the most popular publisher in 37 states, with DC trailing behind at eight, and five additional states coming to a 50/50 stalemate. The totals weren’t a blowout, though. In certain states like Mississippi, Iowa, and Pennsylvania, the favored company only won by a point. And just because a state searches Google for a specific publisher the most doesn’t mean an individual character from the opposing team isn’t its favorite—Hawaii is listed as favoring Marvel overall, yet they love Aquaman on his own. Same with DC-loving Maryland showing Black Panther some love (helps to have a big movie coming out). Take a look at some of the most notable state preferences below:

So how did Marvel amass so many states when there are just as many DC TV shows and movies out there? Well, according to Andrew Selepak, Ph.D., a professor in the department of telecommunication at the University of Florida, and director of the graduate program in social media, the answer lies in the depth at the House of Ideas.

“While Superman and Batman may be dominant characters,” Selepak said in a statement, “the DC Universe offers few other well-known heroes and villains and when these other characters are presented to the audience in film and on TV, they often are less than well-received.” This is opposed to Marvel, which launches new heroes on the big and small screen seemingly every year.

Does this map tell the whole story? That’s up for debate. When it comes to comics sold, DC and Marvel are always in a close battle: In January 2018, DC had six of the 10 best-selling comics of the month, placing four of the top five. Marvel, meanwhile, had three, while Image Comics had one with The Walking Dead. In terms of overall retail market share, though, Marvel eked out DC 34.3 percent to 33.8 percent.

This is a battle that's been raging since the 1960s, and for an industry that thrives on a never-ending fight between good and evil, we shouldn't expect the Marvel vs. DC debate to be settled anytime soon.

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DC Comics, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
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entertainment
The Dark Knight Is Returning to Theaters, Just Ahead of 10th Anniversary
DC Comics, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
DC Comics, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Believe it or not, July 18 will mark the 10th anniversary of the release of The Dark Knight, the second entry in Christopher Nolan’s game-changing superhero movie trilogy. To mark the occasion, Showcase Cinemas—the movie theater chain behind the Cinema de Lux experience—is bringing the movie back to select theaters on the east coast for limited screenings on February 8 and February 11, /Film reports.

Many people consider The Dark Knight the best film in the Batman franchise (Tim Burton and LEGO-fied movies included). The film currently holds a 94 percent “fresh” rating with both critics and audiences on Rotten Tomatoes, making it the highest-rated movie in the Batman universe.

Much of the film’s acclaim came from Heath Ledger’s brilliant turn as The Joker—a role that won him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar (making him the only actor to win that award posthumously). Even Michael Caine, who plays Bruce Wayne’s ever-dutiful butler and BFF Alfred, admitted that he wasn’t sold on the idea of bringing The Joker back into Batman’s cinematic universe, after the character was so ably played by Jack Nicholson in Burton’s 1989 film, until he found out Ledger would be taking the role.

“You don’t try and top Jack,” was Caine’s original thought. But when Nolan informed the actor that he was casting Ledger, that changed things. “I thought: ‘Now that’s the one guy that could do it!’ My confidence came back,” Caine told Empire Magazine.

To find out if The Dark Knight is playing at a theater near you, visit Showcase Cinemas’s website. If it’s not, don’t despair: With the official anniversary still six months away, other theaters are bound to have the same idea.

[h/t: /Film]

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