Vincent Schilling
Indian Country Today

Next month the Marvel universe is celebrating the 80th anniversary of Captain America by introducing a new mini-series titled “The United States of Captain America.” The series has an Indigenous touch in issue #3 and will be written by Marvel writer Christopher Cantwell and largely drawn by Dale Eaglesham, with supplements by additional artists and writers.

In the case of issue #3 a character from the Kickapoo tribe, named Joe Gomez, is a grass dancer and construction worker for his community. Gomez’s outfit is a combination of Gomez’s recognition of Captain America and what the mantle stands for and a personal honor for his Kickapoo traditions as a grass dancer.

Marvel contributor Darcie Little Badger, Lipan Apache, told Indian Country Today that the character is one of five people in the United States who are inspired by Captain America. Other characters include a gay teen and a Black woman. Little Badger says Gomez is one of the people Captain America and other characters such as Bucky Barnes visit and team up with in a way that involves each person’s specific community.

“They go across the country and they meet people who in some way are inspired by the mantle of Captain America,” explained Little Badger. “One of these characters is Joe Gomez. He is Kickapoo and he's a construction worker. Really what Marvel wanted from me was to write a 10-page story that kind of developed this character, his personality, and also his motivation for wanting to be like Captain America.”

Kickapoo grass dancer Joe Gomez in Marvel

Little Badger explained that Gomez is not a replacement for Captain America. “They're not actually going out on missions, like fighting Hydra every week. It's more like there are people — in this mini-series — that locally in their communities, are doing positive things and in some way are inspired by that mantle.”

Mixed receptivity to a Kickapoo Captain America

Last week, Marvel released the first images of the upcoming Joe Gomez character.

Some on Twitter said the red, white and blue celebrated colonization, but others cited Natives as the original Americans.

A great opportunity

Little Badger tells the story of Captain America with a Native connection.

“As a writer, one reason I took this on is because I wanted to emphasize how important it is that those people represent those of us who were here before there was America. And now that there is America and there is this lie that we no longer exist, that we do not have an impact anymore. That is wrong. I don't want this to be a story that erases us as people, but also it's very complex because I also wanted to emphasize that the character comes from a long history of people who have experienced genocide by this country,” she said.

“There's a lot of pain and complexity in the past that we're actually still dealing with. I know personally, my people are still fighting to survive in our own ways. In this comic, there is a very strong distinction made between him taking up this mantle of Captain America. Not because these are the colors of the flag, but because he wants to take a stand and represent that if the mantle does represent the people, it should represent people like him.”

Artist David Cutler told Marvel, “I can't really express the pride I feel being a part of the team that gets to introduce Joe to the world. The Marvel Universe is the biggest stage there is, and bringing a new First Nations hero to that venue means more than I can say.”

Joe Gomez design by David Cutler

Joe Gomez’s issue comes out in August, his adventure, according to Marvel, is as follows:

The saga of “The United States of Captain America” begins when Captain America’s original shield is stolen. And when the mysterious shield thief targets a cultural landmark in Kansas, hoping to put a permanent stain on Captain America’s image, Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson are hot on his trail when they meet the Kickapoo Tribe’s own Captain America. But there’s more to the thief’s agenda than meets the eye and the three Caps may be headed straight into a trap!

Design Variant Cover by DAVID CUTLER

Indian Country Today - bridge logo

Like this story? Support our work with a $5 or $10 contribution today. Contribute to the nonprofit Indian Country Today. Sign up for ICT’s free newsletter.