In the final issue of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Captain America, Red Skull points out one of Steve Roger’s key weaknesses: his status as a man out of time.
Warning! Spoilers ahead for Captain America #30
In the final issue of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Captain America run from Marvel Comics, Red Skull reveals that Steve Rogers’ biggest weakness is time, specifically the time he missed while frozen after his sacrifice in WWII. While that may be true and a personal challenge Captain America is working to overcome, that doesn’t justify the ideology of the Red Skull. While recent issues have seen the Skull corrupting the hearts and minds of Americans online (having gained a rather large following), Captain America sits down with Red Skull to debate their opposing ideals.
In previous issues of Captain America from Coates and artist Leonard Kirk, the Red Skull has been sharing his ideas and expanding his influence over the internet, presenting himself as a men’s rights activist and encourages his followers to engage in acts of hyper-aggression and violence. His following has grown drastically with people foolishly following his cause while finding a new purpose. However, all that was an elaborate ruse, as he’s also secretly staged bombings at riots that have killed his followers in order to make Captain America look ineffective and flawed as a hero.
As a result, Captain America knows that he can’t simply beat up the Skull and arrest him without compromising himself in the eyes of the American people. Instead, he has to show them the Red Skull’s true evil, which is why he debates with his longtime rival over dinner. This is where the Red Skull shares his belief that he and Rogers want the same thing, but claims his villainous methods are more effective. According to the Red Skull, Captain America’s biggest weakness is being a man out of time, which has subsequently made him a « man out of country » as he’s missed many of America’s darkest chapters (like the brutal civil rights marches at Selma) while being on ice since WWII.
Interestingly enough, while there may be some truth to Red Skull’s words about the time Rogers missed, Captain America is still a fighter for freedom, peace, and liberty while the Red Skull seeks to build a new order by crushing the weak. Eventually, Captain America riles the Red Skull up enough for him to verbally claim that he doesn’t care how many of his followers must be sacrificed in order to achieve his mission, seeing himself as a death-bringing and cleansing plague upon the country. Just like that, Captain America won the day without throwing a single punch the Skull’s way, as he and the Daughters of Liberty had been secretly recording and posting his words to Cap on the Red Skull’s own channel, allowing his followers to see the Skull for the evil he truly is and always has been, showing them exactly what he thinks about them in real-time.
While Captain America won a major victory for his country by defeating the Skull, there is truth to the time he missed being a weakness and giving Cap several blindspots to history. As a result, there are still those in the country he’s unable to truly connect to and who are still opposed to him and his actions. Hopefully, Captain America’s new series The United States of Captain America, which will see Rogers traveling the country to reclaim his shield both literally and symbolically, will address some of these systemic issues in some dynamic and long-term ways going forward in the Marvel Universe.
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