Alice Reads-Truth: Red, White and Black
Right, so I finally finished it and I’m having a ton of feels about this book. First things first, I never read anything about Captain America because I hated him as a character on a fundamental level-I can’t back the “all-American hero.” Especially if he’s depicted as a white dude. I understand why he was created (WWII propaganda, need to get people pumped to kill Hitler, yes, yes I know) and I think, for that specific time creating a character like this makes sense but I don’t think keeping him around for the 21st-century without acknowledging the fuckery around does. Especially if you want to convince me that “he’s a genuinely good person.” Unless you do something like what Morales did here.
I’m having a really great discussion about this book with a friend so more from that will probably be appearing later. I know I’ll be writing about Faith, Black women, Islamaphobia and femininity later for sure. She’s probably my favorite character in the whole series.
It’s very very very realistic. Like everyone’s reactions was to Bradley’s existing where exactly what I expected. Textbook case of “I’m not a racist!!” racist bullshit. Which made it even harder to read. My reaction was “damn, can’t even have nice things in a fictional universe!” but I guess that was the point no? Force fantasy land into reality.I tried to find more information on Robert Morales, the writer, and I couldn’t find much, which is disappointing because the man knows how to tell a story. I’m curious to see what else, if anything, (after this I doubt Marvel will ever touch him again) he wrote because he’s a fantastic story teller. But I did find this comment on the public’s reaction to the series
Most people see Truth for what it was intended to be-a deepening of the Captain America myth that looks at the racial climate in the U.S. circa W.W.II, and a melodrama about personal sacrifice. That people have seen that translates into: Truth was a success. (1)
If anything, it certainly added depth to the character, and I guess “erasing” Bradley from the rest of what is “canon” makes sense, even though I hate that. It’s funny how Morales made something that fit perfectly with the 1940s racial climate while highlighting how so little has changed from the 1940s. To my knowledge, he never appears again outside of interactions with his grandson Patriot in the Young Avengers series.
And even though a lot of people hate the art, I really like it. It reminds me of a half remembered moment. Like-Oh, I remember that but not the details, not the specific shapes, not the specific colors. The figures are more exaggerated than most comic books (BICEPS THE SIZE OF YOUR SUPER MASSIVE CHEST!!) and the weird shadows/lighting and color only heighten that for me because you/the narrator don’t remember what anything looked like. Which is very important because Bradley was literally erased. He did not exist outside of the Black community as an idea (more on the ideas of superheroism, savior and being Black later) and his family. Everything in the world these characters inhabit was a memory that had been cut, edited and doctored to suit the pallet of a select few. He’s like a urban legend that is just believable because the house on the hill exists and your great-great-great-great grandma’s barber remembers the little girl that died there but no one actually remember’s her name or what happened to her outside she died horribly and eats kids to go in after the sun goes down. I’m not super familiar with Baker’s style so I can’t say how much of this is just me projecting or if he just draws funny. Based on google, this seems like a pretty big jump stylistically (lack of texture, focus on muted, secondary and tertiary colors, limited details, figures are (even more so) freakishly out of proportion) for him so I think he is thinking about something when he drew this the way he did.