In Q & A, a weekly feature of Fantastic Fangirls, we ask our staff to tackle a simple question — then open the floor to comments. In honor of Memorial Day in the U.S. this week we ask —
Who is your favorite soldier, service member, or veteran in comics?
My favorite is Major Carol Danvers, U.S. Air Force, but you already know that. So my answer is James Buchanan Barnes. Bucky has all sorts of character bits I really go for: he’s a plucky orphan, he’s a brainwashed killing machine, he’s a flawed hero. He doesn’t fit in. He goes too far. He’s simultaneously self-assured and insecure. He’s his own worst enemy.
I know fans who are still upset Bucky was brought back in 2005, that he became something more (different) than what he was in the 1940s and Steve Rogers’ memory. But James Barnes is so much more than Captain America’s sidekick, or even Captain America. And the people who keep going no matter what are always my favorite.
Christopher “Corsair” Summers, United States Air Force.
So we never see him in an official military universe, and — since he’s most notable for abandoning his children to become a space pirate — he’s not exactly an exemplary member of the armed forces.
Counterpoint: SPACE PIRATE.
I rest my case.
Ok, everyone KNOWS my answer. So for the sake of avoiding broken record syndrome, I’ll talk about someone else.
Ex Machina’s Rick Bradbury, before he worked for the NYPD’s Harbor Patrol and found himself unexpectedly entwined in the life of one Mitchell Hundred, was a U.S. Marine who served in Operation Desert Storm. In the all-Bradbury issue #25 of the series, we see him as a sturdy, compassionate soldier, unwilling to leave a man behind even when that man’s chances look grim. It’s this dedicated service in the Marine Corps that sets up the man he’ll later become: a man who is willing to die for those he’s charged with protecting, whether as a warrior, a bodyguard, or a friend. Though Bradbury is an incredibly flawed character, his military service is representative of all of his strengths.
Oh, and (spoilers for the last issue of Ex Machina!), he also apparently likes guys. He would have joined the military before Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, when queer people were simply forbidden from the military altogether, yet he chose to enlist all the same, and served honorably. On the first Memorial Day after the repeal of DADT, it’s important to remember that queer American soldiers, both real and fictional, have been serving their country all along.
I was away for five days at a convention, Wiscon, and my coherence is limited. But Kate Kane wanted nothing more than to serve others with righteous honor. When her sexual orientation — specifically her refusal to lie about her sexual orientation — forced her to leave military service, Kate found another way to serve. We are all better off for it.
So what about you? Who is your favorite soldier, service member, or veteran in comics?