Marvel is stirring the pot again -- this time with a five-issue mini-series by Robert Morales and Kyle Baker that functions like a 'prequel' to the long-running Simon/Kirby Captain America saga.  The concept, which has been attributed to Bill Jemas, concerns the early stages of the 'Super Soldier Project' in which the government, in something akin to the horrific Tuskegee syphilis experiments, tests the secret serum on black soldiers first before turning Steve Rogers into Captain America.  Marvel promises a no-holds-barred looked at racism in the 1940s (the services weren't integrated until after WWII) in a somber saga without the traditional upbeat ending of most superhero books.


The mini-series, which is called 'The Truth' and which is profiled in Wizard #131 (see cover) has already stirred up considerable fan reaction on Internet message boards.  The controversial subject matter with its links to the Tuskegee experiment and racism in the armed forces is certain to provide the kind of free media publicity that Marvel has proved adept at managing.  Given that the paucity of superheroes of color from mainstream publishers is often a subject of media scrutiny, a black Captain America is almost certain get press attention and the more that fanboys complain about tampering with an iconic superhero, the more compelling it will be to the mainstream press.


The project is also interesting because it follows the path of other current Marvel projects such as The Call of Duty, which are gradually bringing the world of superhero comics closer to real world events, real problems, and real urban environments.  While other publishers are strip mining the past to evoke nostalgia for simpler times, Marvel appears to be daring to take a cold, hard look at an era which harbored racism as well as heroism.