By Catherine Mayer
November 19, 2014

You might think there were enough cartoon characters in politics already. Apparently not. Enter Captain Euro, flexing his pectorals and multilingual skills as he battles to save the European Union.

The self-styled leader of Europe, the Captain sees himself as the first point of contact for any U.S. President seeking to speak to Europe.

But the Captain isn’t a superhero. He’s just drawn that way (though he and his team of ardent Europhiles in matching blue and gold outfits might also be mistaken for the flight crew on a European no-frills airline.)

The son of Brand EU, an initiative that tries to do exactly what the name suggests, itself the brainchild of a think tank called Gold Mercury, the Captain first strode to the rescue of Europe in 1995 but fell into obscurity until desperate times and rising euroskepsis—boosted, of course, by the flailings of the Captain’s namesake currency—necessitated his recall. So since Nov. 18 he’s been back in action, deploying his sole special power: the power of persuasion.”Together we are one of the world’s strongest powers. Separately, we amount to far less in this newly globalized world, where size is everything,” says Nicolas de Santis, President of Gold Mercury and thus the Captain’s real daddy. “Armed with this knowledge, Captain Euro will continue on his heroic mission to promote the values of a united EU which we all share: peace, solidarity and sustainability.”

To the Captain and his creator, the baddies are evil-minded euroskeptics dressed in UKIP purple who threaten that vision. Their leader is called Dr D Vider (see what they did there?).

And this is where our hero gets a little confused and confusing. His backstory is puzzling. Called Adam Andros, he’s not a David standing up to goliath globalized corporations. We are told he inherited his own giant corporation, Sustania. An avatar of vested interests, he seeks to rally to his cause some of the real-life leaders than some Europeans might see as part of the problem rather than the cure.

In real-life Jean-Claude Juncker, who has just embarked on a five-year term as President of the European Commission, already faces a motion of censure in the European Parliament after allegations that during his previous incarnations as Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Luxembourg, he helped global corporations to minimize their European tax payments. In a Captain Euro strip, Juncker is a unifying figure working to persuade Prime Minister David Cameron to keep Britain in the E.U..

The coalition of anti-Europe, anti-immigration parties seeking to censure Juncker includes a fair sprinkling of cartoonish characters, but they are successfully positioning themselves as the good guys to a broadening swathe of European voters. If Captain Euro really wants to counteract the misinformation such parties spread, he’ll need to recognize the parts of their message that resonate. The time is ripe for a hero who is pro-Europe but not identified with the European elite. Before Captain Euro can redraw the continent’s fracturing politics, he may have to redraw himself.

All cartoons courtesy of Nicolas de Santis/ Gold Mercury International.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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