From the mind of George R. R Martin, comes a new story involving superheroes in an alternate timeline. In the new Marvel series, Wild Cards: card draw (adapted for comics by Paul Cornell, Adriano Di Benedetto, Ruth Redmond and VC’s Cory Petit), readers are introduced to Robert Tomlin, aka Jetboy, a WWII hero. When he returns from duty, he finds that things are different, but not only that, he is returned to combat again in #2.
Although he’s a separate character from a completely different comic, he shares a similar history with a popular Avenger. Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, has spent most of his career as a hero fighting for what he believes is right. His legacy lies in his service in World War II, similar to Robert’s. Although they come from two separate universes, these characters have more in common than some might think.
The most obvious similarities can be seen in their service during the war. Both Captain America and Jetboy chose to serve in the military during a difficult time, but through their service they became symbols and idols for America. Steve stood for the values of freedom and carried his shield, a recognizable symbol that sets him apart from the rest of his soldiers. Meanwhile, Jetboy has a bright red fighter jet that stands out against the brightly colored planes in battle. During the war, comic strips were made about Jetboy to promote his service and give hope to Americans. It also happened to Cap, who even toured.
Every good hero needs a villain to go up against. For Steve, it was the Nazis, specifically Hydra’s leader, Red Skull. It would continue to go hand in hand with him for years during and even after the war. The organization he created would also be considered one of Cap’s greatest enemies. Meanwhile, Jetboy was pitted against a man named Dr. Tod, a Nazi overlord and sympathizer with a mask covering one side of his scarred face.
Despite the love they received from the public, once their service ended, they returned to a world that had moved on without them. Both Jetboy and Cap had a hard time readjusting to civilian life because they had spent so much time in the military. They try to find things to do to make their lives easier. Jetboy dated the movies while Steve took art classes and used an old radio to talk to friends. Unfortunately, any hope of a romance was squandered upon their return. Steve couldn’t have a life with his love, Peggy Carter, because her time frozen in ice forced her to move on. Jetboy’s lover Belinda is briefly mentioned in #1, and they even share a passionate kiss when he arrives, but in later panels she’s gone with another man.
In the process of doing what they thought was right, they have been placed on a pedestal from which there is no stepping back. They are recognized as heroes and symbols, and the problem with that is that they have no room for error or vulnerability. As public figures, their lives have been more glorified and public. Their fans believe they know everything about them based on the articles, stories, and movies they’re in, but in reality, they don’t know the truth about their struggles.
Because of their righteous views, they will always be called back to battle by powers of authority. In Marvel Comics and in the MCU, Steve is constantly called upon to fight battles that others cannot. Threats range from aliens to robots to terrorist organizations, but his service remains in demand. After Dr. Tod flies the alien bomb over New York in Wild Cards issue 2, Jetboy was called to respond by the US government. The two also make difficult sacrifices for the greater good. Jetboy sacrifices his plane in Wild Cards: card draw #2 to fight Dr. Tod and it cost him his life when he fights his nemesis for the last time. Cap sacrifices himself to save everyone during World War II and remains frozen in ice for over seventy years.
Although they are considered fantastic symbols of hope and peace, they regularly downplay their own heroism. They don’t believe they are anything special, or that their heroic deeds could have been done by anyone else. Because of their righteous views, they will always be called back to battle by powers of authority. Despite their sacrifices and service, the world went on without them, and so did their lovers. Adapting to the new life outside the war was not easy, and with their difficult childhood they got used to loneliness. Everything about their arcs can be called tragic, as it ultimately leaves them without a happy ending.