In honor of Pride Month 2021, one of Marvel Comics’ most celebrated icons will make his first appearance as a queer person. On Wednesday June 2, the mantle of Captain America will be taken up by a gay young man named Aaron Fischer, “the Captain America of the Railways.” Aaron’s introduction will be in the opening issue of a new limited series called THE UNITED STATES OF CAPTAIN AMERICA, which celebrates the superhero’s 80th birthday and is brought to us by head writer Christopher Cantwell and illustrator Dale Eaglesham.
Other characters have assumed the role of Captain America in the past, including names like The Punisher and Falcon, who holds the distinction of being the first African-American superhero to appear in mainstream comics. However, Cantwell wants to explore how the concept of the hero can extend beyond an individual and into a symbol. He shared, “I’m extremely excited to show how the idea of Captain America has been conceptualized and translated by various groups in the country, and for me, the juice of the story is Cap reconciling so many interpretations OF himself WITH himself, both as a person and as an icon.”
“Aaron is inspired by heroes of the queer community: activists, leaders, and everyday folks pushing for a better life,” backup writer Joshua Trujillo said. “He stands for the oppressed, and the forgotten. I hope his debut story resonates with readers, and helps inspire the next generation of heroes.”
“I really enjoyed designing him, and as a transgender person, I am happy to be able to present an openly gay person who admires Captain America and fights against evil to help those who are almost invisible to society,” comic book artist Jan Bazaldua said. “While I was drawing him, I thought, well, Cap fights against super-powerful beings and saves the world almost always, but Aaron helps those who walk alone in the street with problems that they face every day. I hope people like the end result!”
While it may not be Steve Rogers himself who steps out beyond standard heteronormativity, this may be the highest-profile superhero ever yet to be queer. And it is not the first time an LGBTQ+ hero has made an appearance in mainstream comics. Northstar, of Marvel Comics’ Alpha Flight series, was the first major and openly gay superhero, succinctly disclosing his orientation in Alpha Flight #106 (1992) and then marrying his husband in 2012.
But this specific opportunity is really about asking what the superhero represents – and at the same time, asking ideologically whom – for each one of us. “It’s an incredible gift and definitely a creative challenge to take on the character of Captain America, especially during these unprecedented times in our country’s history,’ Cantwell expressed. “With this miniseries we’re hoping to explore what the idea of Captain America means at this precise moment—not just on the grand stage of the world—but to everyday and often overlooked communities throughout the United States.”