Captain America is Ruined Forever! (But Not Really)
After several years of not being Captain America, Steve Rogers has once again donned his iconic blue suit, albeit with a few changes to the overall look.
Oh yeah…there’s one other big change to the original Captain America – one which, according to many people on the Internet, ruins him forever.
Since Steve Rogers: Captain America #1 only hit shelves this week, I’ll add an off-topic spoiler space for those who want a chance to be surprised by the big twist.
So, hey…did you know that Karl Urban’s Judge Dredd might be coming to TV via Netflix or Amazon Prime? I mean, how cool would that be? Urban was amazing in that role and Dredd is one of the best comic book adaptations ever made. Seriously, if you haven’t seen it yet, you should go watch Dredd and be prepared to be blown away.
Anyway, that’s probably off-topic enough spoiler space.
END SPOILER SPACE
Okay, so here’s the thing at the end of Steve Rogers: Captain America #1 that has everybody worked up.
Yep, turns out that Captain America was actually an evil agent of Hydra working deep cover the whole time! What a twist!
Well, actually, in my opinion it’s a pretty poor twist. With decades of comics in which he’s been the biggest thorn in Hydra’s side ever, you’d have to do a lot of plot-twisting to make this actually seem like anything more than a cheap gimmick. Compare it to, say, Ed Brubaker’s reveal that Cap’s partner Bucky hadn’t died in World War II and was a secret brainwashed soldier, and the big reveal seems to lack punch. Nobody’s going to really believe that Cap has been a bad guy all this time, are they?
I thought the answer to that question was a clear “No” until the Internet did what the Internet does and proved that there is no end to overreaction. Writer Nick Spencer got bombarded on social media with everything from people telling him to die to people comparing him to a Nazi.
As one person on Twitter put it, “You’re disgusting for turning a character by Jewish people to be an anti-Nazi symbol into a Nazi.”
You’ve got to admit, the guy has a point. The creation of Captain America was a direct reaction against Hitler in a time when there were a lot of Nazi sympathizers in the US. Joe Simon and Jack Kirby even got death threats over their creation. He’s been through a lot, but absolutely nobody has ever been asinine enough to turn Captain America into a Nazi.
Okay, that panel comes from 1979’s Captain America #234, where Cap got brainwashed into being a Nazi. But that was Roger McKenzie and Sal Buscema. They’re obviously being callous jerks, because there’s no way that one of Cap’s own creators would ever have him defect to the Nazis, much less do something like swear allegiance to Hitler himself.
Oh, yeah…Tales of Suspense #67. Written by Stan Lee and drawn by Captain America co-creator Jack Kirby.
But these are different, right? I mean, in both of those issues Cap had been brainwashed into being evil! This time is different, because…
Why is this time different?
The big revelation of Cap’s allegiance to Hydra is made at the end of the issue, so there’s been no chance to expound on the details of this twist. Moreover, the Red Skull has possession of the Cosmic Cube, a powerful item that is able to warp reality. So right in the issue itself we have an obvious possible explanation for the twist that turns it into nothing worse than the time Stan Lee and Jack Kirby decided to brainwash the poor dude into saluting Hitler.
But Marvel said this change is permanent! While building up the hype for this issue, editor Tom Brevoort said Cap would never be the same. That means this change is written in stone, right?
Well, let’s look at some of the other changes that Marvel insisted were permanent:
- Ben Reilly is the one, true Spider-Man!
- Now that the red Hulk has drained the gamma radiation out of his enemy, Bruce Banner will never be the Hulk again!
- The Marvel Universe will be destroyed forever in Secret Wars!
- The Avengers are no more!
- Tony Stark will never walk again!
- The Punisher is now an avenging angel!
- Jean Grey is dead forever!
- No, this time Jean Grey is dead forever!
- No, this time Jean Grey is dead forever!
You get the idea. Marvel always does this. They always tell you that this change is forever, but it almost never is. Why would this be the one time that Marvel sticks to their guns – especially when, as mentioned, the Red Skull is obviously futzing around with reality?
Marvel wants this type of reaction from fans because it generates publicity and sales. In that regard, I have to applaud them. As I said, I think this is too unbelievable a twist for fans to buy as something legitimate, but Marvel obviously knows their fan base way better than I do. Kudos to them for executing their plan to a T.
In conclusion, I have three major points to make:
1: Captain America is not really evil. A year from now, he and Tony Stark are going to be sitting around having drinks together, with each of them laughing about that time the Red Skull turned them into supervillains.
2: One panel doesn’t ruin 75 years of history. There are a bunch of fans claiming that, even if the “Hail Hydra” panel turns out to be a hoax, the damage has been done and the character will never be the same going forward. If you really believe that, go ahead and sell off your comic collection, because Stan Lee and Jack Kirby already ruined the character forever when they had him salute Hitler in 1965.
3: We all need to put things into perspective. I know that comic fans are an extremely passionate group. As people who have grown up with these characters, we feel a degree of ownership of them. But even if Captain America has always been an agent of Hydra, even if this change is never going to be undone, what does it really matter? He is a fictional character. Nick Spencer is, at the very worst, guilty of writing a bad story. He is not ruining your childhood or spitting in the face of the Jewish people. And if comic book fans ever want to be taken seriously and not just categorized as nerds with poor impulse control, we need to stop being the group that replies to creators on Twitter with thing like – and this is a direct quote – “die rat die rat die rat die rat die rat die rat die rat die rat die rat die rat die rat,” [sic]
Having Captain America turn evil is about the same as having a character go into a coma on a soap opera. It might be silly, it might make you want to stop paying attention to the story, but it’s nothing that will have long-term repercussions. You can roll your eyes or stop reading the comic if you want, but for sanity’s sake, please remember to keep things in perspective.