Underrated: Patriotic Heroes
This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Patriotic Heroes
This week has both the Canada Day and Independence Day holidays, and or those who don’t know, the two days celebrate the birth of Canada and the USA respectively. Perhaps one of the biggest holidays in their respective country. For that reason this edition of Underrated will spotlight some flag wearing heroes from a few different publishers that perhaps aren’t as well known, or as recognizable, as Captain America.
I make no claims that this will be a complete list, in fact it features characters almost entirely from Canada, U.S.A. and the U.K.
Britain’s other flag clad hero from Marvel Comics. There have been three men to call them selves Union Jack, a father and son during the first and second World Wars, and the current Union Jack, Joseph Chapman. Click the above link for a longer run down of the character that’s position as the Working Man’s Hero. Union Jack has a rich history as a member of the Invaders during World War Two (both Union Jack I and II), and even the revived modern day Invaders from the 2008 run (Union Jack III). I am partial to the character, and would urge you to check out the two trades collecting his 1999 mini series, and the more recent one from 2012.
A character published primarily in the UK, Paul Grist created Jack Staff based on a rejected story which he had written to make use of Marvel’s Union Jack. After the rejection, he rewrote the story to create more of a self-contained original comic that was published through Dancing Elephant Press (owned by Paul Grist). Twelve black and white issues later, the comic was restarted in colour at Image Comics.
Perhaps one of the few heroes on the list that is recognizable to most people, Guardian first appearing in Uncanny X-Men #109 from 1978, he was intended to be the Canadian equivalent of Captain America, hence the Canadian flag costume. Guardian has played a significant role in Wolverine’s history -from the early X-Men comics in which the Canadian Government tried to recall Wolverine to Alpha Fight (a team led by Guardian), to having later been the man who helped Wolverine recover his humanity after the Weapon X Program grafted the metal to his bones.
Comely Comics Canadian hero is the current star of a new ongoing series that’s worth checking out. Click the link above for some more information on the Canadian flag wearing hero that predates Marvel’s Guardian by several years. His current on going series from Chapterhouse is fantastic, having gone from strength to strength over the last year and change.
First appearing in 1994 Captain America #434. Inspired to don the costume because of Captain America, Jack Flag was most recently seen in comics as a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s unlikely he’ll appear in the movies anytime soon, however, seeing as how he was most recently seen flying out of an aircraft.
Perhaps the only flag clad hero to predate Captain America, the Shield first appeared in Pep Comics #1 which was cover dated January 1940. Created by writer Harry Shorten and artist Irv Novick, there have been five different incarnations of the character since his debut, the current iteration of the hero has been published by Archie Comics’ Dark Circle Comics imprint since 2005 and features Victoria Adams as The Shield.
You recognize Uncle Sam, right? Created by Will Eisner, he first appeared in National Comics #1cover dated July of 1940 predating Captain America by several months. This iteration of the character lasted for four years, before DC acquired the license to print his stories and revived him during the 70’s. Although not a flag wearing hero, Uncle Same is intrinsically linked to the level of belief people have in the idea of America, making him one of the most patriotic heroes on this list.
There we have it – a small selection of underrated flag wearing comic book heroes. Are there other comic book related stuff out there that is, for whatever reason, underrated and under-appreciated?
Because of that, Underrated will return to highlight more comic book related stuff that either gets ignored despite it’s high quality, or maybe isn’t quite as bad as we tend to think it is. In the meantime, though, if you do get a chance check out the characters in thisUnderrated, then you may need to hunt through the back issue bins for some, but others do have some stories collected in trades.
Until next time!