In the last week of May 2016, I was looking at Marvel’s lineup for that week, waiting for the mildly anticipated Civil War II #1 when I noticed they had started Captain America back at #1. Lots of titles this year had been started at #1’s again with the All-New, All-Different branding after Secret Wars technically re-wrote the multi-verse to a very familiar but still very different place.
But my focus is on Captain America and the recent “Controversy” over the final panel of Steve Rogers: Captain America #1. I quote controversy because I believe it to be nothing more than a very loud few not really understanding the way comics work. If you’ve followed comics for any period of time or have just decided to read about a characters history one day on wikipedia, you can understand drastic changes happens to well established characters. If change doesn’t happen, these characters can stagnate and just become mundane, faceless super-heroes who clatter against the villain of the week.
Change can be a few things, but in comic books it means two very definite things, inevitable and exciting. If we look at Captain America, before he Hailed Hydra, a lot has happened to him. Let’s look back to just after the first Civil War event in 2007, Captain America, as a result of standing against the Super Hero Registration Act, is indicted and on his way to court is shot and killed. Steve Rogers died, and not for an issue, he was dead for 2 whole years. Captain America’s title traded heads to Bucky Barnes (Winter Soldier) until Steve Rogers turned out never to be truly dead, only lost in space and time. Convoluted return premise aside, he came back and it was all just fine. This happens, not to every character but it does happen often enough that most people become numb to these events.
Now why has this turn offended so many people so personally? People have started creating petitions for the writer, Nick Spencer, to change it back, to un-hydra Cap. Hate mail and death threats has been sent to Nick Spencer and the editor of Marvel. This is ridiculous. I think some of this has to do with the rapidly expanding popularity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with new fans flooding into comic stores picking up the first issue of their favorite character from the movies and being told he’s actually a bad guy. This character they’ve laughed with, admired, thought of as noble and courageous is really no better than the fascist scum he’s been fighting in his last 3 movies. I think these people that are so upset and deciding to hurl these death threats like harmless snowballs definitely need to see the ice hidden inside and how much it can hurt someone. I wish that they would take a long and earnest look inside themselves and ask why they’re taking this so seriously that they want to inflict harm on another.
For all the people concerned this is an affront to such a figure of hope and liberty, that Cap being a Nazi betray’s not only their creators and the readers who looked up to him, relax. Captain America isn’t a Nazi, right now we don’t know how deep his involvement is with Hydra, we don’t even know if it’s the same branch of Hydra involved with Red Skull’s agenda. It seemed that even Baron Zemo had no idea of Captain America’s involvement, seemingly there is a much larger picture to Hydra as a whole. As the leader of Hydra, The Red Skull constantly feeds on the world’s current distrusts and political issues and uses them to his advantage. In a page from this specific issue, he gives a speech to a bunch of white supremacist bikers/criminals very similar to something we’d hear from Donald Trump, disparaging refugee’s and minorities, promoting hate speech, and attacking other politicians and trying to Make Hydra Great Again.
We’ve only had a few pages in the first book showing us a piece of the story, we don’t know how this has happened, who made it happen, or how this will affect the rest of the 616 universe. Nick Spencer has been quoted in an interview with EW saying:
“Issue 2 will lay a lot of our cards on the table in terms of what the new status quo is, but the one thing we can say unequivocally is: This is not a clone, not an imposter, not mind control, not someone else acting through Steve. This really is Steve Rogers, Captain America himself.”
Right now, it very much looks like were going to learn some major info from Issue 2, even though Nick Spencer says it’s really Steve Rogers, we’ll see what happens. All the recent changes to reality (Secret Wars 2015 and Kobik) are primers for these types of events so be prepared, this might not be the only one we see in the next couple years.