By Arune Singh
[Welcome to Make Mine Marvel, a bi-weekly series of articles devoted to all the things we've loved about Marvel over the past 60 years. From toys to video games, movies to trading cards, Underoos to stamps and more, we embrace it—warts and all. Kick back and enjoy Marvel's merry past with us.
I can't remember the first time I read about Marvel's most underappreciated super hero. I do, however, remember all my friends telling me that super heroes shouldn't have abrasive personalities, shouldn't fight with other heroes, shouldn't use lethal force and shouldn't fail. Still, to this day, my favorite Avenger (and founding member of Force Works) of all time is everything above and still the embodiment of a real hero.
His name is U.S.Agent.
For those of you who don't know much about John Walker, he made his debut in 1986 as the brother of a fallen soldier. Walker honored his brother's memory by joining the military and later gaining super powers to fight crime stateside. As the Super
Sure, his costume was dark, which only made him "cooler" to the younger version of me; however, it soon became apparent that John Walker was a truly different type of hero. These days I'd describe him as "The Jack Bauer of the Marvel Universe," but as a kid I saw him as a super hero who made sense. He didn't bother with false humility, political correctness or letting the villains get a second chance. His main concern—seemingly his only concern—was making sure America was a safe place. Problem was that everyone
seemed more concerned with his attitude than his deeds.
Walker also got beat up. A lot. Physically and emotionally, U.S.Agent has been a punching bag for most of his career, from getting ousted out of the Avengers to being forced into Omega Flight. Some might view him as a second rate Captain America, but I see U.S.Agent as a resilient hero, one who had it harder than most other heroes and continued nonetheless. All he wanted was to serve his country, to be like Captain America and to be a success. No matter how hard he tried, U.S.Agent found himself on the receiving end of life's toughest challenges and fighting to just survive. Other heroes had people to support them, families who loved them and recognized their strength. The strength of U.S.Agent came from his ability to persevere.
I think that's what captivated me the most about John Walker: every time I found a comic starring U.S.Agent, he was in a different situation and had a new problem. Life kept dumping on Walker but he didn't
give up—he just did the best he could and moved on. Take away the costume and suddenly John Walker seems a lot like us, fighting to get through the day and hold onto our dreams, even when the world keeps telling us to give up.
Some people call U.S.Agent a Captain America wannabe and while there's a lot of reasons to make that comparison, it ignores what makes Walker so different from any other Marvel hero. He's not the most popular guy in the room or the one who gets the credit. He's not the guy who'll rally the Marvel Universe or the key to saving the world.
U.S.Agent is the guy who won't give up because all he wants is a better tomorrow for every one of us who believe in truth, justice and honor.
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