Captain Cunuck

I heard the news today that Captain America is dead1.

This got me thinking about a Canadian I met when I lived in Utah, back in 1999. His “claim to fame” was that his dad, Richard Comely, created the comic book, Captain Cunuck (wikipedia).

Captain Cunuck

This guy used to brag about how much better Canadians were than Americans. He relished in the pleasure of pointing out any remotely interesting Canadian accomplishment and all the while derided our neighbours to the south. While my primal instincts told me to admire this man for his obviously superior intellect, not so deep down I realized it was a pretty jerky way to be and I figured all he was really accomplishing was to make them dislike us. He didn’t care, and although he was friendly enough to me, he wasn’t a particularly popular guy living in middle America.

Canada/US relations aside, learning about Captain Cunuck was kind of intriguing. Here was this super hero that I had never heard of, and probably never would have heard of, but yet there was something alluring about the fact that there even exists a comic set in Canada. They used famous Canadian landmarks as backdrops and even the characters had particularly Canadian background—Captain Cunuck’s alter ego works for the RCMP—and yet, he is a super hero.

This might not seem like a big deal for American’s who have lived their lives seeing whom and what they expect to see; his or her country, familiar landmarks, and national in-jokes; casually depicted in TV, movies, and comic books. But for me, this was something completely new. The closest thing I had ever known as a Canadian super hero before this was Wolverine (this X-Men character is from southern Alberta), but despite the fact that he was born somewhere near Lethbridge, he’s still an American icon.

I found a tribute site for Captain Cunuck, and this is how that fan remembers the comic:

Captain Canuck was like its American progenitors: a pulpy, action-adventure series, with plenty of running about, narrow escapes, and two-fisted thrills. What made it “different” was a willingness to have actual plots!

How many U.S. superhero comics have you read where the first issue of a two-parter starts out great: intriguing set-up, interesting characters are introduced, you can’t wait for the continuation… and then you get the continuation and it’s just one long fight scene: no plot, no story development, no characterization. In Captain Canuck there were plot twists, surprising changes in direction, and a sense you were reading an actual story, not just a vignette. There was also some nice dialogue and easy badinage between the characters that a lot of U.S. comics lack, even today — a real plausibility to some of the lines.

Isn’t it telling how even in a comic book description, Canadians compare ourselves to the US. Anyway, here’s to Captain Cunuck, a true Canadian hero. Oh and Americans we’re sorry about your namesake super hero taking a bullet.

A little tid-bit of my own Canadian esque bragging… Superman—that’s right, the Man of Steel—was actually co-created by a Canadian. This pleases me, but I’ll be the first to admit: nothing says America more than Superman, so we can’t even pretend to claim him… at least not publicly. So every time he flies to his fortress of Solitude up in the Canadian Arctic, we can just quietly think to ourselves, welcome home, Superman.

1. For those of you worried about the death of Captain America, don’t worry, this is just an old trick by the comic book industry to boost sales. Remember, resurrections are not exactly rare in the world of comics, and Marvel Entertainment editor in chief Joe Quesada has already stated that a Captain America comeback wasn’t impossible.