‘Captain America 31 Years Ago’

On July 15 2021, an Imgur account shared a Twitter screenshot, purportedly depicting Captain America “31 years ago” — or, as of 2021, in 1990:

On July 10 2021, the image appeared in a popular Facebook post. An attached comic book panel appeared to depict the character Captain America stating:

Not again! We broke international law invading Panama! Now we’re breaking the law again with this fabricated ‘drug war!’

Why can’t we leave Latin America alone?! Haven’t we exploited them long enough?!

In the tweet, user @froggneal referenced comments by television actor Dean Cain — who once played Superman in brief reboot of the series — lamenting a “woke” Captain America:

Dean Cain has publicly condemned Marvel’s newest version of Captain America, and Twitter is pushing back on his criticisms.

The “Lois and Clark” actor appeared [July 12 2021] on” Fox & Friends” to slam the character declaring, “I am so tired of all of this wokeness and anti-Americanism.”

“I believe the pendulum will swing back to openly appreciating American values, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights,” he added … “I agree with Senator Tom Cotton, who was on a couple of days ago, who said that perhaps Captain needs to be demoted to Lieutenant,” Cain explained. “I think it makes good sense. We’re here because America has its founding principles, which I firmly believe in. I believe in individual freedom; I believe in equality of opportunity, not outcome. Competition: the ability to compete fairly. Hard word, which brings you success and brings you material wealth which in turn gives you self-reliance. That’s what everybody wants on the face of this planet; that’s what everybody strives for, that’s why they’re trying to come here.

“And I find this wokeness, it’s pervasive; it goes through everything; it goes through our school system,” Cain continued. “The cool thing to do today is bash America. The comic books do it; the schools indoctrinate our kids, they do that; our movies, our television shows are full of it. Celebrities, actors, athletes, media: they love to bash America.

A reverse image search indicated that the panel as it appeared in the July 2021 tweet was not new to the internet in 2021. A July 2017 tweet included the same image:

However, the panel was first crawled in early (and throughout) 2013 — well prior to Cain’s 2021 objections. In June 2013, a user of Reddit’s r/Anarchism shared the panel in a post:

The discussion included the following question that same day in r/comicbooks:

A since-deleted account provided the answer: The 1990 issue Daredevil #283:

daredevil 283 1990

Daredevil #283″ linked to a since-deleted or private blog post originally published in January 2012. However, we located an archived copy, which began:

One Sentence Overview: Daredevil and Captain America step in when an immigrant inventor comes under attack from a range of sources

Okay, I know I said I was going to review the annual next but actually, as the action takes place back in Hell’s Kitchen, I’ve changed my mind and that review will go up in a couple of issues’ time, once Daredevil’s actually back in his old hunting ground.

So instead it’s DD283 [Daredevil #283] and a perceptive comment on the corruption of the American Dream. As one can tell from the (cleverly symbolic and not at all reflective of what actually occurs in the tale) cover, Daredevil and Cap meet again and get very cross about the infraction of an immigrant’s rights to develop innovative technology that big business is going to frown upon.

Indeed, Cap appears a lot less conservative than I’m used to here – in an early scene, he picks up a magazine (called the Democrats, which tells you all you need to know, I guess) and becomes enraged at reports of America involving itself in the drugs war in South America. “Can’t we leave Latin America alone?” the Sentinel rants. “Haven’t we exploited them long enough?”

I’m not a huge reader of Cap – and Ed Brubaker’s recent run doesn’t dwell too much on Steve Rogers’ political opinions (though Mark Millar clearly identified where he stood on the rights of a person to put a mask on one’s face and beat people up) – so it’s possible I’m misrepresenting his views. However, Daredevil is also shocked by Cap’s anger at the way the oil industry controls things in his country. “I would have guessed he’d view such ideas as subversive,” Daredevil ponders.

Information in the blog post matched that of a Marvel Database entry for “Daredevil Vol 1 283,” published in August 1990:

Synopsis for “The American Nightmare”

Daredevil and Captain America try to help a small town inventor who dreams his amazing creations.

Of course, Captain America was an anti-fascist hero from the very beginning:

Dean Cain’s complaints about Captain America’s “wokeness” in July 2021 revived interest in a 1990 Daredevil #283 panel, which circulated intermittently on the internet as early as 2012 — alongside questions about whether the text had been altered. Comic news sites and blogs documented the panel and its source, an issue released in August 1990. In it, Captain America can be seen objecting to the U.S. government’s involvement in affairs in Latin America, as well as the “drug war.” The character has also been anti-fascist (“antifa”) all along.