Captain America Truth is quite simply one the best graphic novels I have read in years and years.
Yes, it is that good, even better, and belongs in the same category as Maus, Stuck Rubber Baby, and Fax From Sarajevo.
Captain America Truth was originally a seven issues miniseries published in 2002 by Marvel Comics and was written by the late Robert Morales and artist Kyle Baker.
And they should all be congratulated by not only telling this important story, but also including it in the official continuity of the character.
The tale of Captain America Truth, which was originally titled Truth: Red, White & Black, is about how the U.S. Army, in an attempt to replicate Captain America and bring about more Super Soldiers, puts tons of black soldiers through massively painful and mostly lethal experiments.
All this torment is because the formula that created Cap vanished when the Professor who invented it was assassinated.
We start with three different men, each very different in background and outlook and where they are in life, but all have in common the massive racism smashing into them all the time. They end up together in the military, and just like in civilian life, are treated very very very badly. Until these three, and many more, are secreted away all to hopefully transform them.
The U.S. Army eventually do recreate some Super Soldiers, but yet again because of the colour of their skin, they are treated very much like tools and animals, not like a hero as Captain America was.
Truth continues the story for many years and decades after World War Two, leading to the racism of the past being shown to still be very much alive today. Things have improved, but some still harbour the vile hatreds of the past.
Without spoiling this wonderful story, the final chapter ends in a beautiful way, and sparks hope and love in humanity.
Captain America Truth, which is loosely based on the real life Tuskegee Experiments that the U.S. government shamefully took part in, is filled with historical details that enrich the story and makes all of it feel so much more real. It is very obvious Morales and Baker have researched everything, almost every little detail, in massive amounts. I love history and know tons about World War Two, the culture of the time period, and the black oppression going on, but even I was challenged by the all that was mentioned and simply alluded to. Quite some time was taken by me to inform myself even more about this era, which is a situation I relished here. In fact, I highly recommend Captain America Truth as an excellent teaching resource for young people.
This is even with how this is a mature read, with language and subject matter and several shocking graphics used. But all this is in service of informing we the people of what history is, and how it still affects us all to this day. If youngsters can read The Diary Of Anne Frank at 12 years of age, they can experience Truth.
Only minor nitpicks exist for me her with Truth, such as Captain America would have heard about this before now, and that Baker’s art is occasionally too goofy looking. Also, while I give Marvel major kudos for having the courage to publish this, I do give them a major finger wagging for not immediately making this a part of continuity.
This is a hard and honest look at what would have happened for real to the Super Soldier program. I consider this a part of Marvel history, forever and ever, because we know it to be the unfortunate Truth.
…is currently reading Star Trek The Next Generation Q-Squared by Peter David. My third Star Trek book in almost 20 years!!