December 7, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Characters Case File #322: Flag-Smasher

An international terrorist with a thing against countries in general sure keeps having problems with Captain America.

I managed to get a lot of columns out of the Young Avengers following WandaVision, so why not continue that trend a wee bit by highlighting a character in the new The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series?

Let’s talk us some Flag-Smasher.

Flag-Smasher is a terrorist, the son of a Swiss banker/diplomat going by the name Karl Morgenthau.  Karl’s goal is world peace.  That’s admirable.  He also commits acts of violence and terrorism to get there.  That’s not at all admirable.  That’s the sort of thing that gets people after him and his organization ULTIMATUM, AKA The Underground Liberated Totally Integrated Mobile Army To Unite Mankind.  What makes Karl so mad is countries.  Like, all of them.

Let’s let him explain:

Since he has a mad-on for national symbols of all kinds, that meant he often locked horns with Captain America, but unlike a lot of Cap’s other enemies, Flag-Smasher also would never dream of teaming up with the Red Skull.  Heck, he and Cap teamed up once to stop ULTIMATUM when Flag-Smasher learned their plan had received funding from the Red Skull since, well, the Skull was also a nationalist.

Cap, for what it is worth, stated he found Flag-Smasher’s goals admirable and would even help him if he gave up the violence.  But, you know, Flag-Smasher hates himself some national symbols, even friendly ones that sincerely offer to help.

Of course, Karl was the first Flag-Smasher.  He was actually installed as the leader of a fictional country (yes, the irony) at one point as a compromise of some kind, but he was later killed off-panel by the mutant Domino.  A second Flag-Smasher, Guy Thierrault, ran around for a while before he too died, mostly because he tried messing with Deadpool, and Deadpool doesn’t tend to leave his attackers alive.

Now, I would be remiss if I did not mention that I have in my time come across some rather well-developed arguments to end things like borders between countries.  These are views generally held by folks on the far left of the political spectrum, and usually at their simplest will point out that if goods can cross borders for the sake of economics, then labor should be able to do so as well.  However, these sorts of arguments are no doubt far too nuanced for a comic book character that first appeared in 1985, and while it may come out of a comic book today from the properly motivated writer like current Captain America writer Ta-Nehishi Coates, I don’t think that will translate over to the movies or TV end of things.

And to that end, we have The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, where a group of international terrorist trying to reset the world to whatever it was before the Snap/Blip happened.  Interestingly, this Flag-Smasher is a woman named Karli Morgenthau, played by actress Erin Kellyman, and given she appears to be a petite thing with a youthful face full of freckles, it sure is a lot of fun watching her overpower people who underestimate her.

Face it: she doesn’t look that dangerous. That’s what makes it fun.

Anyway, I thought I heard another Cap enemy get name-checked in the second episode, and that’s all that’s available as I type this up, but I’ll do that guy next week.  Methinks his involvement in the show is incredibly appropriate.