March 25, 2011
This should be a shorter piece today, a little epilogue to what we’ve been talking about over the course of this week. We’re approaching 40 years since the Vietnam War ended, but now America is once more at war, this time in Iraq and Afghanistan. A different time, a different war, and as it turns out, a different Standard. How does this Standard’s response compare to Gilbert Graham’s all those decades ago?
Like Gilbert Graham, Alex Thomas has taken no direct involvement in the War on Terror. But unlike Gilbert, this decision has been faced with little controversy. What has changed? Vietnam changed a lot of things, not least how the US Army and its foreign campaigns are perceived by the American public. As mentioned before, Gilbert Graham was vindicated for his decision to keep The Standard separate from the conflict, and so now more people can appreciate the thinking behind today’s Standard taking the same stance. This is a deeply unpopular war, and many would say they don’t even want the soldiers over there, never mind additional superheroes.
But there could be another factor at play, in the differing response. Back in the 1960s, The Standard was revered. He almost instantly became an icon, ingrained into the very fabric of American culture. He was one of its leading citizens, operating on a level distinct from any public servant or politician. As such, his stance for or against a war carried weight, it meant something. But now? The Standard remains popular, certainly, with Alex Thomas just as beloved as Gilbert Graham, if not more so. But it is different. His actions would be more likely to be compared with those of a famous actor or musician, with us not expecting him to actively engage in events on the world stage anymore than we would expect Lady Gaga or Tom Cruise to go to war.
We look at our superheroes differently now. Getting to why that is the case will be a long process, but it begins with Alex Thomas. So starting from next week, we’ll be taking a look at his path to replacing Gilbert Graham as The Standard, beginning with the story of Fabu-Lad.