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When Superheroes Play Indian

When Superheroes Play Indian

(p.145) Chapter Five When Superheroes Play Indian
From Daniel Boone to Captain America
Chad A. Barbour
University Press of Mississippi

Chapter five continues the discussion of playing Indian in comic books, with the focus on superheroes in particular. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Plastic Man, Captain Marvel, Superman, and Batman play Indian. This chapter then examines Green Arrow’s Indian masquerade and its interaction with the social consciousness of Dennis O'Neil's Green Lantern. This chapter then considers Captain America as Indian and the repercussions of playing Indian for his role as national superhero and representative of U.S. identity. In Neil Gaiman’s 1602 (2003-04) and Tony Bedard’s one-shot story, What If? Featuring Captain America (2006), these reimagined visions of the Captain America mythos appropriate and perform Indianness in order to possess virile masculinity and physical strength. Furthermore, this appropriation of Indianness to produce heroic masculinity accompanies the comics’ conventions of superheroism. The white superhero as Indian encapsulates the major themes of this study and provides a fitting resolution for this book.

Keywords:   superhero, Captain America, U.S. identity, appropriation, masculinity

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