Abstract

Conventional wisdom states that leftover frustrations from World War I necessitated an incremental rhetorical strategy for interventionists in the buildup to World War II. However, such considerations often miss another factor that bolstered American isolationism: anti-Semitism. In the interwar period, America saw a sharp uptick in anti-Semitic organizations that preached a vehement isolationist message. Because of this environment, interventionist rhetors, particularly Jewish rhetors, were denied access to traditional rhetorical resources. In response, one group turned to one of the few outlets available: comic books. Through allegory, a rhetorical form that combines an entertaining surface narrative with a strong but hidden ideological argument, these rhetors were able to reach broad audiences with interventionist messages from behind the veil of comic book adventures. This essay examines the ways in which one of those comic book characters, Captain America, was purposefully constructed to be an allegorical argument for intervention. Through a careful interplay of visuals and narrative themes, his creators made a compelling case for America’s involvement in the war.

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