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 the Captain America movie, who is your favorite character (other than Steve Rogers) in the Captain America mythos?
I feel as if my answer is obvious and redundant so instead of using comic (or movie) canon to explain, I am going to tell a personal story. I recently played a Heroclix scenario I named “Capture the Flag Couples Retreat”: the objective was to get the other team’s flag out of their starting area and bring it back across the board to my team’s starting area and the rule was that the teams were divided into pairs and each pair had to stay within 2 squares of each other (so a maximum of 1 square between them) or take an unavoidable click of damage. My new Bucky Cap was paired with Black Widow on a team with ten other Avengers.
My Spider-Man successfully captured the flag but to win the game I had to get him across the board safely. And to keep him safe I had to split up Bucky and Natasha — basically throwing them in the way of the other team, and ending my turn with the partners more than two squares apart. They each took damage. And then more damage when the other team attacked them. At my next turn, Bucky was up against Hulk. He had little chance to defeat, or even damage, Hulk. A teammate was able to boost his attack by +1 (the Perplex power) and Bucky had that same power; he could have adjusted his attack by another +1. But if he successfully defeated Hulk, he’d have line of sight to Natasha and could boost her defense. It probably wouldn’t be enough to save her from being knocked out, but it was all he had to give. So he held on to it. And he missed hitting Hulk by one point.
But I won the game.
Rebecca “Rikki” Barnes began as the modern-day ‘Bucky’ of the Heroes Reborn universe. Then she found her way into the ‘main’ Marvel universe, only to discover that Steve Rogers was dead. Undaunted, she created an identity for herself as the new Nomad, and teamed up with Spider-Girl and others to fight bad guys in Young Allies and Onslaught Unleashed.
The last we saw of Rikki, she had been absorbed by Onslaught (and maybe had never existed at all?) I like to think that Rikki’s latest not-quite-death is temporary, because there’s so much potential in this character. Her strength, determination, and commitment to doing good for its own sake make her worthy of a character who has carried the legacy of both Steve Rogers (who was the original Nomad) and Bucky Barnes.
It’s probably easier to ask me who isn’t my favorite character in the Captain America mythos, since I love so many of them. I’ve written before about Arnie Roth and Bernie Rosenthal. I’m sure I’ve enthused at some point about Sharon and Peggy Carter and Sam Wilson. And I’m fond of many, many others.
But perhaps my favorite character in the Cap mythos, when it all comes down to it, is his mother, Sarah Rogers. There are, essentially, three kinds of superhero parents. There’s the kind who are nonexistent in the children’s lives (like Steve’s father, Joseph, who in the comics drank himself to death when Steve was 6, leaving his son with few memories). There’s the kind who are antagonistic or otherwise problematic forces, spurring their children to try to be the opposite (Mystique, Howard Stark, Corsair, etc.). And then there are the parents who inspire their children both in life and from beyond the grave, the Uncle Bens and Aunt Mays and Ma and Pa Kents of the world, the ones who make their children better people by raising them right and giving them all the love and support they need to thrive.
Sarah Rogers is in the third category. Though she died when Steve was 14, it was her strength and gentle love that made Steve the good man he is today. While the recent movie (unsurprisingly) placed more emphasis on Steve’s father, it’s his mother who has always been the target of comic book Steve’s fondest memories and greatest strength. A poor laundress raising a child all alone during the Great Depression, Sarah Rogers had more resilience in her pinkie finger than I have in my entire body. And when she finally succumbed to illness, it was because she could only afford medicine for one person, and chose to give that medicine to her sickly son. That’s parental devotion on a grand scale, and it set the stage for Steve to be generous, self-sacrificing man he is. If I could ask for just one thing from future Captain America comic books, it would be more stories about Steve’s childhood — and more stories about this incredible woman.
I’m not sure who counts as part of the Captain America team, actually. And since Caroline called dibs on Rikki Barnes, I’ll have to say it’s probably Natasha Romonov, the Black Widow.
So what about you? In honor of the Captain America movie, who is your favorite character (other than Steve Rogers) in the Captain America mythos?