While a great deal of attention has been paid to the nauseating examples of Christian paraphernalia sprinkled throughout the mob that stormed the D.C. Capitol last week, it was also interesting to see what other totems lined the ranks. Neal Kirby noted a few instances of D.C. rioters rocking Captain America gear as they stormed the building, and he took that personally.
That’s because Kirby is the son of Jack Kirby, the comic book legend who co-created Captain America, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Black Panther and pretty much every Marvel great from its early hay day. Cap was one of Kirby’s first creations, who pre-dated Marvel Comics and even the U.S. entry into World War II. Though Kirby’s famous picture of Captain America storming a Nazi base to pop Hitler on the jaw is well loved now, it was controversial at the time of its publication. Kirby got threats from Nazi sympathizers in the U.S.
That’s why his son was so upset to see Cap’s likeness being used to support insurrection. “I was appalled and mortified,” the 72-year-old Kirby wrote in a statement shared online. “These images are disgusting and disgraceful.”
“My father, Jack Kirby, and Joe Simon, the creators of Captain America and WWII veterans, would be absolutely sickened by these images. These images are an insult to both their memories.”
The younger Kirby takes quite a bit of time to make the case that Captain America and President Donald Trump don’t have all that much in common. In fact, Kirby calls Cap the “antithesis” of Trump.
Where Captain America is selfless, Trump is self-serving. Where Captain America fights for our country and democracy, Trump fights for personal power and autocracy. Where Captain America stands for the common man, Trump stands with the powerful and privileged. Where Captain America is courageous, Trump is a coward. Captain America and Trump couldn’t be more different.
Whew. Well, that’s gotta come as a disappointment to anyone who splurged on a custom MAGA-branded Captain America novelty shield, but oh well. This is the sort of knock that would have warranted one of Trump’s famous angry tweets back in the old days when he had a Twitter account but these days, the President’s got bigger issues on his hand, including a record-setting second impeachment.
Jack Kirby’s art made him a rock star of the 1960s comic scene, arguably more vital to Marvel’s early creative success than the company’s publicity hound ringmaster Stan Lee. Kirby’s distaste for Nazis was famous, even before the U.S. entered the war. Legend has it that a group of American Nazi sympathizers phoned Kirby’s office, warning him that they knew where he worked and were, in fact, right outside. Kirby slammed the phone down, rolled up his sleeves and stormed outside to give them a piece of his mind, Captain America-style, but his foes had already hightailed it out of there.
You can read Neal Kirby’s full statement here.
Tyler Huckabee is RELEVANT's executive editor. He lives in Nashville with his wife, dog and Twitter account.