Art by Joe Giella.
Y’know that one irritating relative who shows up for all your birthday parties whether he’s invited or not, never enjoys hanging out with you, loves sniping about your flaws to everyone, scoffs when anyone compliments you, goes above and beyond in ruining the party for anyone who cares about you, but eats twice his weight in cake and finger foods while he’s in your house?
You don’t? Cool. Neither do I. But when America’s Independence Day rolls around, any number of internet hangouts feel much like that every year. I’m not really in the mood for it just now.
I was trying to come up with some balance of “America” and “sincerity” to mark the occasion here on MCC, and the first icon to leap to mind was Captain America, because that’s how my mind rolls. I could’ve spent hours digging through my collection and scanning pages from the greatest Cap stories I’ve ever read. Instead I’ve consciously opted for a mix of quaint simplicity, practical wisdom, and childhood nostalgia that brought a smile to my face when I revisited it for the first time in years.
The clickable image shown above is page 122 from the 1976 self-help classic The Mighty Marvel Comics Strength and Fitness Book, in which some of Marvel’s greatest heroes teach readers a series of exercises to improve their health, tone their physique, get their blood pumping, dispel their couch-potato image, and give them an edge in crime-fighting. The book isn’t exactly one of the classics from the Marvel library, but its advice and demonstrations are useful and encouraging to anyone seeking that sort of thing.
Among the participating big names are Captain America and the Falcon, along with the Falcon’s li’l sidekick Redwing. Modern readers may find this all dated and a wee silly, but consider what’s demonstrated in the space of that single page besides the exercise itself: teamwork; perseverance; trust; inter-demographic cooperation; focused dedication toward a shared goal; and complete disregard for whether or not anyone else thinks they look foolish. So many great features from the factory showroom model of Classic America.
The short version: they’ve got each other’s backs no matter what. It’s wildly off-topic, sure. It’s no one’s idea of an overt “Happy Fourth of July!” greeting card, but it exemplifies much of what I’d love to see in one. Your move, Hallmark.
Happy 4th. Stay safe. Go find something in your country to enjoy. Maybe stow the partisan rhetoric and played-out “‘Murica!” jokes till at least the 5th, what say?