Superhero comics have a long-standing tradition of using internal monologues as an organic method of delivering exposition, and the originator of this timeless trope is Captain America. Since the character’s debut in Captain America Comics #1 (by Joe Simon, Jack Kirby, and Al Liederman), the Sentinel of Liberty’s inner thoughts have been used to communicate information to the reader that doesn’t fit neatly into the limited space provided by the comic book format.
While the “exposition through inner monologue” trope’s repeated use puts it in danger of becoming a clichéCaptain America: Sentinel of Liberty #1 (by Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, Carmen Carnero, and VC’s Joe Caramgna) demonstrates how effective and engaging it can be. Not only do Steve Rogers’ thoughts offer unique insight into his character, but they do an excellent job of summarizing the centuries of lore and symbolism tied to him.
In direct contrast to the confidence he shows allies and enemies, Steve has always been prone to self-reflection. Although Steve has always remained true to his personal views of what his shield and costume de él represent (freedom, justice and equality), he’s often struggled to come to terms with his role de él as the symbol of the American Dream following his transition into the Twenty-First Century. Not only has Steve been forced to constantly live up to the expectations of the countless people he’s inspired, but he’s also seen his image of him be appropriated as a symbol of racism and fascism by those who view these ideas as American values.
In the face of this constant pressure, it’s understandable that the Sentinel of Liberty’s only consistent refuge would be in his head. As one of the first characters ever created by Marvel Comics, Steve has stood at the center of many of the most pivotal moments of the Marvel Universe’s history. As one would expect, this history and its associated baggage can be hard to grasp at times. While Steve’s fortunate enough to be surrounded by friends and allies willing to lend a sympathetic ear, there’s only so much room in a comic, and there isn’t always time for him to have an intimate heart-to-heart about his all of his experiences, even when they’re vital to understanding current events.
As a quick and easy way to explore Steve’s thoughts and feelings, Captain America’s iconic inner monologues are an excellent narrative tool. going into Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty, Steve was given a chance to reconnect with his roots while Sam Wilson assumed the mantle of Captain America full time. With this free time, Steve found himself thinking about his superhero identity and what it means, his inner monologue reveals quite a bit about what motivated him to resume life as an ordinary citizen and how he feels about the experience. Later on, it’s used to establish important information to readers by establishing Steve’s history of him with Brian Falsworth, aka the Destroyer, and his growing awareness of the mysterious conspiracy centered around his shield of him.
While it may not be the most exciting way to deliver exposition, Captain America’s inner monologue offers readers a rare glimpse into the mind of one of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. With only so much space available on the page, the voice of the Sentinel of Liberty is a simple yet effective way of deepening the reader’s connection with the Marvel Universe.