I remember when this book was first solicited, I only recently begun making my first forays into comic fandom. I’ll never forget the vitriol people typed up online about the mere concept of this book, that before Steve Rogers became Captain America a black man wore his uniform. Seeing that nonsense alone made me determined to read every issue.
The story relies very heavily on alluding to real history, relying on readers to understand that the United States government, at one point in time, had absolutely no problem experimenting on black people (as well as forcibly sterilizing them.)
And that’s a history that’s problematic, and its one that people still don’t want to deal with (especially right now, with North Carolina refusing to give reparations to sterilization victims) but it’s one that we need to be made to remember.
The comic also speaks to the whitewashing of the United States’ historical narrative, which is what makes this page so important to me.
Isaiah Bradley is every black serviceman who wasn’t rewarded or thanked by his country for his service. Isaiah Bradley is every Civil Rights worker whose name we’ll never learn in favor of the polarizing MLK/Malcolm X dichotomy. Isaiah Bradley represents everything that we as Americans should strive to come to grips with and understand about our history.
I’m in awe right here. You look at all these photos of Isaiah Bradley with people who were, more or less, a part of history, and yet looking at the Marvel Universe, this figure had been, more or less, forgotten by the establishment heroes, and that, above everything else, is a shame.
Also, I do see the artist of this piece in a photo (hint: not Stan Lee).