Brimming with cynicism toward America, the new American agent bears more than a passing resemblance to a Watchmen hero.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for VC’s US Agent # 3, Christopher Priest, Georges Jeanty, Karl Story, Matt Milla and Joe Sabino, on sale now.
John Walker, aka US Agent, has always been a warped mirror image of Captain America, viewing the world through a darker and less dated lens than the Sentinel of Liberty. This made him analogous to several “dark rival” characters from the 80s and 90s in mainstream comics, such as Thunderstrike, Azrael, and Venom. He eventually calmed down a bit from his original antagonistic persona, but this hasn’t stopped the cloak itself from representing something far removed from everything Steve Rogers once believed in.
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The character, who will soon make his MCU debut in the Disney + series Falcon and the Winter Soldier, is currently returning to the comic book spotlight in his own miniseries. US Agent Issue 3 has John Walker dealing with family issues and a new individual taking his title. Ironically, the “new” American agent seems to have a much bigger problem with Battlestar, John Walker’s old partner. Brimming with hatred and cynicism toward America, the violent new American actor bears more than a physical and proverbial resemblance to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen comedian.
First shown at the end of the second issue, the new government-sanctioned American agent, who is also known as Saint, makes his raucous, full-scale debut in US Agent # 3, attacking a vehicle that Battlestar was riding in at the time. Battlestar, also known as Lemar Hoskins, briefly served as Bucky when John Walker’s American agent served as Captain America. When the unintentionally offensive connotations of this name caught the attention of writer Mark Gruenwald, his nickname was changed to Battlestar.
The new American agent mentions this name, personally offending Hoskins’ past. Saint then brutally beats Hoskins, taunting him for being a white male-inspired government tool. He sees it as an embarrassment, noting that he has done nothing to specifically help blacks, before breaking his arm. This makes Saint an antagonist to Hoskins’ idealism, and there are several elements of his character and the theme itself that are reminiscent of the Comedian.
The Saint’s US Agent costume is almost a dead shade for the costume that Edward Blake wore, in Watchmen. This suit combines military uniforms and armor with a somber patriotic tone. The only real differences are the lack of Blake’s domino mask and Saint’s striped bib. Beyond that, they seem to share a very similar and incredibly nihilistic perspective.
The Comedian saw the humor, as dark as it could be, in everything, namely the futility of many American institutions and established morality. Similarly, Saint ignores Hoskins’ optimism and idealism, considering him firmly trapped in a forgotten and largely racist past. His brutal beating of Hoskins reflects the similar violence the Comedian would employ, showing how he is certainly not a custom built boy scout superhero. His vision beyond the facade of patriotism in the divided United States also recalls how the Comedian, despite being one of the government’s cartels and the few vigilantes authorized to continue operating, saw no such honor in the American government.
It’s worth noting that the mission that led to John Walker’s replacement as the official United States government agent is also eerily similar to a scene from Watchmen involving the Comedian. Walker was destined to disperse a crowd of protesters in Puerto Rico, backed by a legion of riot police from various backgrounds. Protesters attack Walker, which police see as a signal to charge forward. This is reminiscent of the scene in Watchmen where Nite Owl and the Comedian try to break up a mob of protesters. When they start throwing things at the duo, the comedian retaliates by shooting and fighting back. It is unknown how far the similarities will carry in the rest of the series, but for once, it seems that John Walker may find himself in the unlikely position of being the most optimistic and idealistic member of the cast.
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