Marvel just doubled down. They’re saying Captain America is a Nazi (Hydra agent, but Hydra are Nazis) and always has been. In the latest revelation, it is the heroic Cap we’ve been reading in Marvel comics since the 60’s (and going back to the 40’s) that is the false persona and the Hydra agent that is the “true” Cap.
Over a year ago, a storyline began in the comics which “revealed” that Captain America had been an undercover Hydra agent ever since the 1930’s. That might have passed under the radar except longtime editor Tom Brevoort and new writer Nick Spencer both gave interviews driving home the point that this was not just a temporary twist, but that—honest-to-gosh, no-two-ways-about-it, totally-for-sure—this was true and that Captain America had always been a bad guy.
There was a big outcry at the time. I (and others, I’m sure) told my comic shop why I wouldn’t be buying any Marvels for a while and canceled all my subscriptions. And I still haven’t bought a Marvel since then. It wasn’t an artificial boycott or something I had to force myself to do—I just had a bad taste in my mouth and I didn’t feel like reading what they were doing now.
At the same time, the Marvel movies and TV shows were doing great! The movies make billions of dollars and are eagerly awaited, as are the TV shows, which are often the epitome of quality. And the movies and TV shows are achieving this success by giving us the best interpretations they can of the classic heroes and their motivations. But the movies and TV shows are fairly new. They’re still in the building phase—“construction.”
The comics, on the other hand, (and the same holds true for Marvel’s greatest rival DC) have been around forever and have been in the “deconstruction” phase since the mid-80’s. Maybe after hundreds of CAPTAIN AMERICA issues and stories, the powers that be are just sick of him and all the rest. So, to keep their own interest alive, they have to do something crazy like turn Captain America into a Nazi.
And I’m not being hyperbolic here. The movies, the AGENTS OF SHIELD TV show, and the comics themselves have established the last few years that Hydra are Nazis. In fact, they are the worst of the Nazis. So, to turn the symbolic American Captain America into a Hydra agent seems like nothing less than a slap in the face to the two Jewish men who created Captain America in the first place. The first issue in 1941 even had Cap punching Hitler in the jaw on the cover—a comic that sold a million copies. One has to wonder if Marvel would have done this if Cap’s Jewish creators Joe Simon and Jack Kirby were still alive. (You can bet Kirby and probably Simon would both be giving high profile interviews about the issue!) Another Jewish creator, Stan Lee was instrumental in bringing back Cap in the 60’s (and even wrote the first account of Cap throwing his round shield as a weapon back in the text piece he wrote as a teen in the 40’s).
Stan thought the original idea in 2016 was an interesting twist that might increase interest in the monthly series, but I wonder how he feels now that Marvel has doubled down. They gave themselves an out by bringing in the reality-changing Cosmic Cube and they also did a big crossover event at the same time that also affected reality, but now they went and announced again that, no, Cap is and always was evil. The Cap we know was a mind-altered bad guy whose true persona is now presenting itself, resulting in murder and other evil acts.
When Disney bought Marvel in 2009, fans were afraid that “the Mouse” was going to interfere with the comics…but they didn’t really. Marvel had been coming off a few years worth of darkness—heroes kept losing and the villains kept winning—and things got a little more hopeful then…but it didn’t last long.
Now, one has to wonder WHY Disney ISN’T interfering! The comic book people keep tinkering with the heroes, taking them far away from the classic icons that Disney bought. The movies are making, literally, billions of dollars giving us good versions of the classic heroes; the comics, on the other hand, are selling mere tens of thousands of copies ruining those icons. They are risking franchises worth billions of dollars because some writers and editors are tired of the American institutions with which they’ve been entrusted? Some readers are WISHING that Disney WOULD interfere!
The comics industry (made up of writers and artistic types) leans left the last few decades, and that can be fine, but one can’t help but wonder if there is a political message in this storyline. After all, it’s not just the fall of a hero (yes, a white male and possibly Christian and probably conservative), but now (it “turns out”) he was ALWAYS like this! While protestors out in the streets and on college campuses right now are yelling “America was NEVER great!” Now, Marvel is saying “Captain America was never great!”
Maybe the present creative team members don’t love Captain America the way I (or a lot of others) do. He was my favorite super-hero ever since I was a kid. Maybe they’d rather be working on SPIDER-MAN or BATMAN. I hardly think they’d do a storyline (and these things can last YEARS) in which it was revealed that Peter Parker was a middle-aged pedophile just pretending to be a high school student when he was bitten by that radioactive spider so many years ago. (Hey! It would explain why his Aunt May looked so old!) No, they wouldn’t do that because they probably LIKE Peter Parker too much to do that to him or his fans. And Nazis are as bad or worse than pedophiles. So, if they don’t LIKE Steve Rogers/Captain America, then why are they working on his book?
Maybe they think the modern world wouldn’t find an earnest Captain America interesting (though the success of his movies would belie that assertion), or maybe they’re looking at the sales figures of the last few years and think nobody wants to read CAPTAIN AMERICA the comic. Of course, we haven’t had the REAL Captain America in comics for about ten years. Ed Brubaker wrote eight great years of CAP, which culminated in the death of Cap—which made the news and sold hundreds of thousands of issues. But then, Steve Rogers was replaced as Cap by Bucky/the Winter Soldier for about three years. After that, some complicated limited series brought Steve back to life, but Brubaker moved on and another writer sent Cap to another dimension for ten years, where he aged. When he came back to Earth, the Super-Soldier serum in him was deactivated and Rogers spent the next few years as a frail old man, and was replaced as Cap (again!), this time less organically by Sam Wilson/the Falcon. Cap’s death was ten years ago (2007). We haven’t had a regular Cap comic for ten years. Meanwhile, during those ten years, Steve Rogers was Cap in three movies that made a total of over $2 billion worldwide.
Of course, money isn’t everything. If the comic creators were being true to the character and still not making money, that would be one thing. If they were being really artistic telling extraordinary tales, that would be something too. But they’re betraying the characters, his original creators, and the fans—for what? Another “Everything you know is a lie!” storyline? Another complicated retelling of history? Another “false memories overlaying the true memories” story? (They did that once before in CAPTAIN AMERICA, with the Falcon way back when—a storyline ignored now and generally considered a low point of the series.) These cliches are BAD storytelling.
It’s not just CAP. Most of Marvel’s books are in the “deconstruction” phase, with writers and editors who either are trying to make the news or are busy remaking the classics into something different than either new fans (from the movies) are expecting or old fans want. But it does seem that the comic line is going out of its way the last few years to NOT resemble the movies, which makes no sense.
Recent news said that Marvel is going back to its classic heroes starring in their own titles again (what a novel thought!), but that makes this recent “Captain America is an evil Nazi and always has been” assertion all the more perplexing. If people are anxiously waiting for your run to end, that should you tell that something is wrong, shouldn’t it?
The outcry should not be “Marvel Comics, you suck!” but rather (and these questions should be asked online, at conventions, and through the comics shops) “Marvel, why do you suck so bad?”, “Why do you keep sucking?”, and “Are you sucking on purpose?”
Captain America is NOT a Nazi!