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Capes On the Couch - Where Comics Get Counseling

Apr 21, 2021

  • Intro
    • Podchaser Reviews4Good - Jeanine - Capes on the Couch has literally gotten me through the trials of the last year.  It's been rough all around but I know I can get a weekly dose of comics, voices, sass and puns and I look forward to it every week. There have been some truly moving conversations and I, for one, appreciate it. Keep it up, love you guys!
  • Background (3:15)
    • John Walker created by Mark Gruenwald and Paul Neary in Captain America #323 (November 1986)
    • Began as Super Patriot - a patriotic villain who served as a foil to Steve Rogers
    • John was former military, who received treatments that gave him superhero abilities from the Power Broker - originally worked as a wrestler, before his manager convinced him being a hero was more lucrative
    • Used staged “attacks” to undermine credibility of Steve in an effort to replace him as the premier patriotic hero - said Steve was too old and liberal to adequately represent America
    • When Steve resigned from serving as Captain America after clashing with the Commission on Superhero Activities, he was replaced with John
    • John became the new Captain America, and his friend Lemar was Bucky/Battlestar - identity outed by former associates, resulting in his parents being murdered by a militia he fought, which drove him more insane, causing the Commission to rethink giving him the Cap mantle
    • After a battle with the resurrected Red Skull, the Commission recalls Walker and reinstates Steve Rogers - Walker was presumed dead after a staged assassination, and given a new identity of Jack Daniels - now serving as US Agent
    • Joins the West Coast Avengers as the eyes & ears for the Commission, and rubs his teammates the wrong way, especially Hawkeye
    • When the team is disbanded, he joins Force Works set up by Tony Stark - once again butts heads with Clint Barton, but they later come to respect each other
    • Serves as the Commission’s head of the STARS team, but bristles at having to have his ex-girlfriend Kali Vries as his lieutenant
    • Joins the New Invaders and serves alongside Jim Hammond, Union Jack, and Blazing Skull
    • During/after Civil War, appointed as the US liaison to Omega Flight, and he doesn’t appreciate that role
    • Loses an arm and leg after Nuke attacks him with a spear during Seige - his limbs are restored by the Venom symbiote while working with the Dark Avengers
    • Fought Sam Wilson when Sam became Captain America - evil Steve Rogers convinced him that Sam was dishonoring the legacy
    • Joined a new version of Force Works
    • Ongoing miniseries written by Christopher Priest introduces a younger sister, and reveals that Mike didn’t die in a helicopter crash, but by suicide

  • Anthony & Doc discuss John’s character Flanderization
  • Issues (18:02)
    • Coping with loss of brother and parents
    • Feels like his values are out of place in modern world, and it causes him friction on every team (24:44)
    • Always serving someone else’s agenda annoys him (35:16)
  • Break (42:49)
    • Plugs for Bedknobs & Broomflicks, Cast Junkie, and Erica Schultz
  • Treatment (44:31)
    • In-universe - Get him out of America
    • Out of universe - (47:06) Former military personnel - use VA resources to get them help
  • Skit (59:21)
    • Hello John, I’m Dr. Issues. - Good afternoon, sir.
    • I’m not military, you don’t have to do all that “sir” stuff with me. - It’s not about military, it’s about respect. You have a difficult job, and I want you to know I’m taking this seriously.
    • Well, that’s good to know. So in the spirit of that respect, let’s get down to business. What can I do for you? - I’m under a lot of pressure, both internal and external, and it’s starting to get to me. I need to figure out how to cope with it.
    • Alright, that’s direct. Let’s start with the internal pressure. What’s creating that? - That’s about wondering what my role is in this world. There’s already a Captain America, and he’s better at it than I was. And as for “free agent” heroes, you can spin a dead HYDRA mook and hit a dozen of them. I’m just struggling to figure out what my place is in all of this.
    • First off, I appreciate that you’re able to articulate these kinds of issues so eloquently. Makes my job that much easier. - When you’ve spent as much time alone with yourself as I have, you kinda have the ability to self-assess. Plus it’s kind of how I view the world - I see a problem, I identify it, and I address it. Now whether it works out in my favor, that’s a coin flip. But I don’t like to beat around the bush.
    • Alright, so I’ll be direct with you. Yes, there are countless heroes out there. Yes, someone will always be able to do what you do, and potentially do it better. But that doesn’t negate your impact. That doesn’t mean that you still can’t do what YOU do. Because, even if someone can do everything you do and theoretically be faster or stronger or more… whatever… they’re still not YOU. Now you have to find out that unique essence, the thing that makes you who you are. Let me ask you this: what’s your big why? - What?
    • What’s the reason behind your heroing? What drives you to put on the suit every day? - Love of God and country. At least that’s what it was when I started. That and wanting to be the hero my brother would’ve wanted me to be. I wish he were here to help give me some advice.
    • I assume he passed, then. Sorry for your loss. - He died in ‘Nam, fighting the good fight. Now, most people don’t agree with whether or not we should’ve been there, but we never back down from a fight. That’s not America.
    • Let’s get back to your reason. Do you think your brother… - Mike.
    • Do you think Mike would approve of what you’re doing? -Beating up the enemy? Sure. Wanting to protect the country? Hell yeah. Getting mixed up in random conflicts that have nothing to do with either of those points? Not so much.
    • You sound like you don’t have much control over that last part. -They don’t call them “contemplative decision orders.” Once in a while I do some stuff that I’m not at liberty to disclose, but that’s only because I get put in those situations that...somebody screwed up.
    • Somebody? -Once in a while, it’s me. 
    • I see. And how does that make you feel? - I don’t like it, but I also know I’m never going to make the perfect decision all the time. I do the best I can with what I’ve got. Now, having said that, there have been some… monumental mistakes that eat at me, and those are the ones I try not to repeat, or try not to get myself in another situation where I could repeat them.
    • So bad that you can’t sleep at night, or so bad that the thought of it happening again means you’ll never sleep again? - Yes.
    • Well, damn. -Come on, Doctor. I’m sure you’ve heard so many stories over the years. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the stuff I’ve been couldn’t survive.
    • I wouldn’t begin to compare my life with yours, or other patient’s stories with your stories. - Not for nothing, Doc, but my entire career… hell, my entire LIFE has been spent in comparison to one person or another. Mike, Steve Rogers, Hawkeye… I’m always following someone or other, and always asking and being asked what it’s like to step into their shoes. So comparisons ain’t anything new to me.
    • Then you’re familiar with the premise “comparison is the thief of joy?” Through no control of your own, people have sucked the life out of a new experience. It should be an honor to do what you do.’s a burden. - It’s not always a burden. Like I said, I was born to do this. I just wish it wasn’t always so draining. I guess that comes with the external AND internal pressure.
    • Ok then, what kind of external pressure do you face? - There’s always some bureaucrat giving me orders, somebody who wants “the good soldier” on their team. And I get it. I’m tough and they want the symbolism of the one-time Captain America on their side. But it gets awfully tiresome after a while.
    • Your motivation doesn’t have to match theirs, as long as YOU know why you’re doing what you’re doing. There’s plenty of models I could use to explain this, but to cut it short, you’re an obliger. -I don’t understand that at all. Nobody has come close to saying that to me. *pause* Is that a good thing, or what?
    • It’s not a good or bad thing. It’s an observation that you’re trying to meet everyone’s expectations, including your own. But it’s not all black and white. I get the sense that if things go sideways -Yeah, I get to that point when no amount of authority is going to stand in my way.
    • So, as always, this is a matter of balance -*clearly irritated* Oh here we go with this woo-woo nonsense. I know that therapy helps. I know I need to take time for myself. I know I should pick my spots. You don’t have to talk to me like I’m in 5th grade about this stuff.
    • I meant no offense. You’d be surprised at how many people don’t recognize this as much as you do. But I don’t mean a 50/50 split. It’s going to change. Let me ask you...between what you want and what others want, what’s the ratio right now? - 20/80.
    • Too much? -What do YOU think? 
    • When’s your next 80/20 stint? -*pause* I don’t think that’s ever happened. 
    • That’s a screwed up see-saw, then. Got some tools to fix it? - I could quit one of my teams, but unless you want to pay my rent, I don’t see that happening.
    • Stop the all-or-nothing responses. You’re old school...take a sabbatical for once. Temporary leave. No weakness in that - I… I don’t know if I can do that.
    • You don’t know if you CAN, or if you WILL? - Same answer.
    • Not even close. Until you recognize the difference, then you’re the Great American Whipping Boy. -Doctors support their patients. They don’t dole out insults. Especially to those that keep their ass alive more times then they realize. If I DO decide to take time off, it won’t be sitting on some beach sipping Pina Coladas all day. Hell, it might be spent finding a better psychiatrist that doesn’t kick a man when he’s doing his best!
    • If your disdain for me leads to your motivation to have a better life than you first imagined, then I’ll gladly be the antagonist in your personal goals. - Whatever. I’m outta here. Have fun pissing in your next patient’s cereal.
  • Ending (68:07)
    • Recommended reading: 1993 mini-series
    • Next episodes: Isaiah Bradley, Comic book death, Nebula
    • Plugs for social


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