Captain America is my favorite comic book hero. He represents the best of us all, fighting for right no matter what the cost, always standing up for those who need protection. He is was we should be, what we want to be. This is why the Secret Empire event really hit me hard. I get it, I understand the reasons why, I followed the story, but it still hurts. Part of what I believe are the positives we can take from this event are the smaller stories. These are the ones that we can wrap our heads around and see ourselves in the characters. These stories are the ones that take up the true mantle of Captain America: the ones that see heroes working to make life even a little bit easier while standing up against an overwhelming and undeniable force that buckles most people’s will. This is who Cap wants us to be.
Occupy Avengers Vol. 2: In Plain Sight covers Hawkeye and his rag-tag team during the Hydra occupation. With everything else going on in New York, Washington, and other major cities, the last place they expected trouble was Dungston, Iowa. Unfortunately, as often seems to happen with Clint Barton, trouble finds them. What begins as a small town with a terrible secret devolves into an intra-species battle on American soil.
With the political overtones that have shaped both our country and the Marvel Universe in the past year, seeing an Avenger defending not just the lives of undocumented ACTUAL aliens, but also their right to the lives they have built in the new world of promise America has tried to hold itself up to be is uplifting. Barton, his team, and their TARDIS Transformer van vow to stand and defend the town’s asylum seekers, refugees from a race that has targeted mankind over and over again, against even Nick Fury himself. This is who Cap said we should be. We should be better than we ever thought we could be. We should protect those who need protecting, no matter what.
Writer David Walker takes some chances with the politics of the situation, but in a book called “Occupy Avengers,” any thought that politics would be off-limits or even hemmed are out the window. Artists Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Martin Morazzo and Jorge Coehlo do an excellent job transitioning between issues and capturing the more gritty reality of this team’s struggle. They aren’t in New York fighting amongst the skyscrapers. They fight in the fields of middle America, in the rural heartland.
The team each have their own traumas attached to Hydra and the occupation. Nighthawk’s predecessor was killed simply for being a black man in the way. Barton’s pain comes from the nightmare of killing Bruce Banner. Solving the problem of Hydra seems insurmountable, but gathering food to help those left behind is doable. Building an army of the dispossessed and downtrodden seems right up their alley. Can they win against overwhelming force? That really isn’t the point, is it? They fight. They stand up for what they believe in and what is right and good in the world. They are the legacy of Captain America and the Avengers.