U.S. Agent who is it? Here comes the dark side of the American Dream

U.S. Agent who is it? Here comes the dark side of the American Dream

The Falcon & The Winter Soldier made its Disney + debut with The New World Order, a first episode that gave us a particularly promising human side of the two protagonists, Sam 'Falcon' Wilson and Bucky 'Winter Soldier' ​​Barnes. Central, of course, is the figure of Captain America, who after the events of Avengers: Endgame is no longer part of the superhero community of the MCU. Or at least, he is no longer associated with Steve Rogers, who gave the shield to Sam at the very end of the epilogue of the Avengers film saga. Yet, in The New World Order we see a new Cap appear, whose appearance is very reminiscent of one of the most controversial figures linked to the myth of the Sentinel of Liberty: U.S. Agent.

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The figure of U.S. Agent is deeply linked to the legend of Captain America in the Marvel Universe, and his presence in a Marvel TV series dedicated to the new Cap of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is interesting, especially considering the difficult relationship, at least initial, between the U.S. Agent and Captain America in comics.

But who is U.S. Agent?

The origins of U.S. Agent

The character was created by Mark Gruenwald, who introduced U.S. Agent in Captain America # 323, in November 1986, initially making him an opponent of the Sentinel of Liberty, with the name of Super-Patriot, aka John Walker. The idea was to create an opposition to Rogers' typical vision of the American Dream, which in the past had shown that it was able to rebel against 'political' orders if opposed to his ideal, as seen in the 1966 Secret Empire saga.

For Gruenwlad it was important to show the dark side of Cap's American Dream, a dark version of it. Steve Rogers' patriotism in his naive confidence was undeniably positive, but the author was intent on showing how even an exceptionally American principle such as patriotism could show danger. Gruenwald himself explained it during an interview:

"I wanted to create an opponent of Captain America who would interpret patriotism in a way that was impossible for Cap, a patriotic villain in short. In practice, the opposite of Steve Rogers. Rogers came from a poor family on the urban outskirts, so he decided to introduce a child character of the rural middle class. Cap was a mature man at the time, so we needed a young man who reflected the teenagers of the period. Captain America was a romantic idealist, so made Super-Patriot more realistic and pragmatic. So I decided to put together his background to present a character opposed to Cap's ideals. ”

Walker's first appearance was a shock to the Cap series, thanks to Gruenwald's good work in presenting the deformation of the Dream Typical American of Steve Rogers. When Rogers for the second time decided to abandon the uniform of Captain America, Gruenwald decided to bring John Walker back into action. Walker, who has already returned briefly in Captain America # 327, becomes the protagonist of the series dedicated to Cap starting from number 333. Gruenwald had built the story of Captain America in his management in order to arrive at this handover.

All in all, the author did not hide that there was also a more material reason for this change under the Cap uniform: to increase sales.

“For example, with Iron Man we had James Rhodes take the lead role for about two years, which is longer than anyone expected. In Thor, Beta Ray Bill took the place of the God of Thunder for a handful of numbers. These are gimmicks designed to shake people up. For Iron Man it was I who had the idea, while for Thor I was just the editor, but it's a trick I know well. It's about getting people who wouldn't normally be attracted to be interested, and with a little luck people will tie in to the plot. ”

Gruenwald's goal worked, as the arrival of John Walker raised the bar. sales of the series, remaining the protagonist of the series up to number 350, taking on an increasingly heroic role. In Captain America # 354, Gruenwald decided to sever all ties between Walker and Cap, giving Walker a new identity: U.S. Agent.

In doing so, it was decided to put Cap's old costume in mothballs. The uniform of U.S. Agent was conceived as a dark version of that of Captain America, with a different display of the typical stars and stripes of Cap's costume.

John Walker, the man who became U.S. Agent

John Walker hails from the fictional village of Custer's Grove, Georgia. The second son of a rural middle-class family, he grows up with a reverence for his older brother Mike, a helicopter pilot who died in action in 1974 during the Vietnam War. The family myth of his brother is a constant presence in John's life, who decides to enlist to become a war hero himself, but his military service takes place in a period of peace.

At the end of the his military career, through a friend comes into contact with Power Broker, an enigmatic individual able to confer powers. John gains superhuman abilities, which further convince him of his future as the nation's hero.

After a brief career as a wrestler, Walker takes on the role of Super-Patriot, embarking on a journey to America presenting himself as the real American hero, capable of showing the authentic American spirit. In his wanderings for the Stats, Super-Patriot organizes rallies and rallies, as well as performing useful services. His goal is to prove himself better than Captain America and take his place.

The two come to confront each other during a rally in Central Park. Attacked by Cap's supporters, Super-Patriot reacts, leading Cap to face him in person, explaining the dangerous drift of his behavior. Despite Cap's repeated refusals to confront him, John Walker ultimately brings Rogers to the fight. The duel is fought on an equal footing, but Walker claims victory when one of his favorite weapons, throwing stars, hits Cap.

Walker continues his work, sparking the interest of the Americans and Valerie Cooper, the president's special adviser. When Rogers refuses to submit to the Commission on Superhuman Affairs, the candidates to take up the shield were Nick Fury (considered too old) and Sam Wilson (not chosen as America did not consider itself ready for an African American Cap). Cooper then proposed Walker, presenting him to the Commission as a representative of the American government.

Walker's career as Captain America was rather short, especially due to his radical vision of the role of Cap. His Captain was very different. from the conception of Roger, more violent and blindly faithful to orders, whose ethical value he never contested. During the time he wore the Captain America uniform, however, Walker began to question its importance as a symbol, especially in relation to the ideal carried forward for many years by his predecessor.

When his actions pushed Understanding that he was the Sentinel of Freedom again, Walker agreed to give him the role, indeed prompting Rogers to take up the role that was his and that Walker felt he did not deserve. His role was not exhausted, however.

Walker continued to operate as the Commission emissary, assuming the role of U.S. Agent, a special operative armed with Cap's vibranium shield and with a uniform that resembles that of Captain America, but with a black color and a different combination of stars and stripes. As U.S. Agent, his first task was to be the guardian of the Commission for the activities of the Avengers of the West Coast, a role that often led him to clash with Hawkeye, until his departure from the team.

US Agent is in effect a hero close to the high government spheres, a role he has also played on occasions of the great Marvels. This position of him is the first major difference with Cap, the difficulty in understanding the moral implications of the orders.

The powers of U.S. Agent

U.S. Agent has skills very similar to those of Steve Rogers. His powers derive from an experimental human augmentation project run by Doctor Karl Malus, on the recommendation of Power Broker. Walker has superhuman strength, agility, reflexes and superior stamina.

Walker is a hand-to-hand fighter, highly trained as an acrobat, thanks to the special training he received in his appointment as Captain America. To play the role of Cap, he was in fact trained by Freedom Force and Taskmaster trained him to use Captain America's shield as Steve Rogers.

In the role of Captain America, John Walker also had a sidekick, Lemar Hoskins, belonging to a group of supporters of the first Cap, the Buckies. When Walker became U.S. Agent, Hoskins decided to change his alter ego to Battlestar.

During his career as a U.S. Agent, Walker used several shield designs. Initially, Walker was armed with Cap's original shield, which Rogers had dropped along with the uniform when he left his role after misunderstandings with the Commission. Upon Steve's return, Walker used the vibranium shield made specifically by Black Panther for Steve Rogers during his time as Captain. Another version of the U.S. shield Agent was shaped like a star, with retractable spikes, decorated with the name of American civilians who died at the hands of the terrorists.

After a series of defeats and injuries, including the loss of an arm and a leg after a fight with Nuke, Walker obtained prosthetics to be able to continue his business.

The uniform of the US Agent, bulletproof, is composed of an ultra-resistant material, to which a mind control system was later integrated to improve the use of a new armament, including two bracelets capable of generating energy bullets and an energy shield protective.

The differences between Captain America and the US Agent

As Gruenwald pointed out, Walker represents the distorted version, at least at the beginning, of the vision of the American Dream embodied by Steve Rogers. If Captain America was the embodiment of a freer and purer vision of the mythology of Greater America, the passage of time and the US socio-political atmosphere at the turn of the seventies and eighties seems to clash with this ideal.

Super-Patriot first and US Agent later represent a more current and less naive vision of the figure of Captain America, a contrast that represents the tensions of the Reagan era, also becoming an example of the comic's criticism of reality. Not surprisingly, Walker's awareness of his overly violent methods coincides with his career as Captain America, when he embodies the dark version of the character. The return of Steve Rogers as Cap is a sign of newfound confidence in the character's ideals, providing Walker with the opportunity to make a fundamental self-criticism to later play the role of the hero.

U.S. Agent in the Marvel Multiverse

Like many other Marvel Universe characters, the U.S. Agent appears in other versions

In a What if? , the series of stories in which different scenarios of the Marvel Universe are imagined, U.S. Agent is the cause of the end of the Captain America myth.

Walker and Rogers fight for the role of Cap, only to be stopped by Nick Fury and President Reagan. When Reagan in a speech to the nation announces that both represent the American spirit, a member of the Techio Rosso-controlled Commission kills Rogers. Reagan then asks Walker to take his place as Captain America, a role Walker performs by giving free rein to his violence, until she is trapped in the Vault. The government decides that the symbol is more important than the man under the mask, and the costume of Captain America, kept in a museum, is then withdrawn. The story ends with Red Skull laughing in front of the finally winning Cap costume.

In the Ultimate version, Major John Walker heads a mutant detention camp after the Ultimatum, where abuses are perpetrated on mutants.

As announced in recent days at D23, John Walker, alias US, will also appear in the series The Falcon & The Winter Soldier Agent. It will be played by Wyatt Russel, son of Kurt Russell (the Ego of Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2).

If the figure of U.S. Agent has intrigued you, don't miss the opportunity to add John Walker to your Funko Pop collection!

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