TITLE: Team America Vol. 1, Issue 1
YEAR: June 1982
COMPANY: Marvel Comics
Scripter/Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Penciller: Mike Vosburg
Inker: Vince Colletta
Letterer: Jim Novak amd Joe Rosen
Colorist: Christie Scheele
Conceived by Ed Hannigan and Jim Shooter
Back in May 1992, a motorcross group known as Team America would make their debut in “Captain America” issue #269.
As toy collaborations with comic book series and animated series were common place in the United States and to replace their Evil Knievel line (after the real Evil Knievel got into trouble in real life), the result was Team America.
So, how to incorporate Team America to the Marvel Universe? Include a mysterious masked motorcyclist and feature motorcross athletes who may have special innate abilities being the target of terrorist group, HYDRA. And also include well-known Marvel superheroes to be part of the team.
Needless to say, it was a series that was meant to push a toyline and possibly for many people, it would seem like a hilarious or stupid concept for Marvel Comics to undertake.
But this was the ’80s. As a child, I was heavy into BMX and reading a storyline about dude riding their motorcycles and kicking HYDRA’s butt and also seeing other Marvel superheroes grace the pages, “How cool was that?”.
Many people may not remember but TV series and films built upon cool vehicles were commonplace in the ’80s. May it be Kit of “Knight Rider” (1982), the prototype motorcycle in “Street Hawk” (1985), General Lee (a 1969 Dodge Charger) of “Dukes of Hazard” (1979), a battle helicopter for “Airwolf” (1984) and of course, the vehicles seen in animated series such as “G.I. Joe” and “Transformers”.
Vehicles and human interaction with vehicles were a big thing of the ’80s, people went crazy for them and for me, “Team America” seemed right for that era.
But truth be told, that was 1982 and I was a young kid. First, let’s discuss the story.
“Team America” issue 1 begins with a mysterious person clad in black infiltrating Universal Technologies and hacking into a computer and deleting five names. The mysterious figure in black escapes from the guards and then we realize that these guards work for Unfortunately, for them, we learn that failure does not result in firing, failure results in death. And Mr. Darvin, the Executive Officer of Universal Technologies works for HYDRA.
Darvin is assigned to steal Masatake “Pops” Muramoto’s new experimental motorcycle for the Kawahama Corporation for Operation: Daytona! And the Unlimited Class Racing Circuit will be taking place at Daytona, Florida at the famous speedway.
We are introduced to Wolf, a Latino man who considers himself to be the fastest man on wheels. He is nearly murdered by HYDRA and discovers a note.
We are introduced to former C.I.A. Agent, James McDonald who is nearly murdered by HYDRA but thanks to hearing a door slam, he was able to prevent himself from being stabbed and a note is found.
We are then introduced to hotshot, Winthrop Roan, Jr. (a.k.a. R.U. Reddy), a man who lived through his father’s wealth and has been cutoff as his father wants him to get a job and earn his own money. Like the other two, he is nearly murdered but fortunately a horn went off and he was able to avoid from being shot. And also discovers a note.
All three men read the note which comes from the mysterious person in black that tells them they each share a common destiny and are linked. And each of the men feel they know each other somehow but are not sure how.
James MacDonald suggests the three join forces and while R.U. Reddy looks at it as a job which he hopes he can make money, Wolf is not sure he wants to be part of it.
Eventually the three men plan to race at Daytona, unaware that HYDRA has their own plans for the event.
As a collector of “Team America” comic books as a kid, I can see myself being attracted to the comic book. As a kid who wanted to race BMX and was enticed by motorcycles, unfortunately, while friends ride Harleys, the only thing that I came to biking is riding a road bike (which I still ride and partake in as part of my workout today) and a moped that I rode when I was in college. So, needless to say, reading the comic book in 2017, while nostalgic, I’m a bit more critical.
For one, making Latino racer, Wolf to this hot head who calls everyone a “gringo”, with the headband and arrogance, I guess he comes from the bad side of the tracks. A stereotypical portrayal of Latinos of the ’80s as evidence by TV series such as “a.k.a. Pablo” (1984) and films such as “Born in East L.A.” (1987) and anti-immigration policies of the early ’80s (which inspired Richard “Cheech” Marin’s “Born in East L.A.”).
Stereotypical portrayals of characters who were Latino and Asian was commonplace in comic books back then and being Asian, I was not inspired by mutant Sunfire. But I looked up to superheroes featured in comic books and Team America, they seemed like the normal guys (or so I thought…), just people on their bikes taking on the evil HYDRA.
Nevertheless, I still have to reread the entire series but I am now starting to remember bits and pieces but I saw this comic book with different eyes when I was a child. It will be interesting to see how I feel about it now as an adult, decades later.