The Forum: Journal of History


This paper analyzes the character of Captain America in the midst of the Cold War, and particularly asks how and to what extent the character reflects his contemporary sociopolitical atmosphere. To achieve this end, I first establish the vital role of popular culture, especially comic books, in modern historical research. I then discuss the history of Captain America, the sociopolitical situation of the 1970s, and, finally, introduce the Secret Empire and Nomad storylines of the 1970s, which form the basis of my argument. The most valuable primary source in this paper is not the comic books themselves, but an interview that I recently conducted with the former author of Captain America, Steve Englehart. Ultimately, I argue that Englehart redefined Captain America’s version of patriotism and created a character that was more effectively able to reflect on and respond to social and political events.