Authored by: James Mark Shields

The Routledge Companion to Religion and Popular Culture

Print publication date:  March  2015
Online publication date:  March  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415638661
eBook ISBN: 9781315724478
Adobe ISBN: 9781317531067


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The cover of Captain America #35 is, from a cultural studies perspective, truly extraordinary. Published in February 1944, at the height of the Second World War, it confronts the reader/viewer with a dynamic tableau of good versus evil. At lower center, his hands clutching a diabolical control wheel, is the bespectacled arch-villain—complete with Asiatic features. Protecting him (and bearing a striking resemblance to the Buddhist guardian deities at the great Nara temple Todaiji) are two muscular green henchmen, facing attack (and certain defeat!) by Captain America and an ally, who fly into the scene with alacrity. And at the center of it all, taking up fully half the vertical space in the image, sits a large Buddha statue, nearly blocking what appears to be a Japanese Imperial flag. Other than the evil scowl and blood-red mouth, the statue is a reasonable facsimile of the great bronze daibutsu statue of KĊtoku-in, Kamakura, perhaps the world’s most recognizable representation of Amida, the Buddha of compassion.

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