Speak of the devil and he shall appear. This resonates very true these days. About a year ago writer Nick Spencer took the reigns of Captain America. The iconic Sentinel of Liberty shook the entire world when he uttered two words at the end of issue #1, “Hail Hydra.”
Suddenly Captain America was public enemy #1. People all over the world turned on Steve Rogers after revealing that he was a sleeper agent for Hydra. Next they turned into experts on Captain America despite having never read an issue, claiming him to be an anti-semite, that they will never go to another one of his movies and boycott everything he does. Then there was me, a very seasoned veteran of comics who read that first issue amid the scandal and thought “Ok, this is a cool idea but I think the dialogue could have been trimmed down a bit in the issue.”
Writer Nick Spencer received death threats, people threatened to blow up the Marvel offices, and a bunch of other stupidity over a comic. Honestly this kind of behavior stemmed from people who haven’t read a comic in their entire lives. They were overreacting to something that simply didn’t warrant it. Wow, you would think a controversy like that would be used to gain an interest from the readership.
This was far from the first time that Captain America has been evil, it has been played around with in the past. You can look back to Ed Brubaker’s run on the comic where the Captain America of the 1950s had been brainwashed and went on murderous rampages. Or to a lesser extent you can even cite the Captain America from the Universe of Earth X who actually a secret Nazi experiment on American soil, (hence why they chose a blonde haired blue-eyed subject) and was labeled as “Hitler’s one true son.” But you don’t see people freaking out about that stuff do you?
I grew up in a time as a comic reader where we didn’t have media explosions for every single little stir that happened in comic books. I hate to sound like the angry old man but I only had two comic events that were big enough to catch major media attention, The Death of Superman in 1993 and the death of Captain America in April 2007. Cap’s death really hit me, but not in the way I wanted. I would have preferred to read about in in the pages of Captain America #25 rather than seeing it screen on CNN. However, it was such a significant event that it got the whole world involved in just how great that book was but now that it happens all the time not so much.
Anyway, back to Hydra Cap.
After about a month people realized they weren’t all that invested in the story and it fell out of the public eye. But now a year later Hydra Cap is back in the spotlight with the launch of his new comic Secret Empire which claims he was evil the whole time. This will no doubt create a ton of controversy and cause people to drag Captain America through the mud again.
Want to know the trick to writing superhero comics?
“Create the illusion of change without anything ever changing.”
- Julius Schwartz (Co-creator of the Flash and the Justice League)
This is a theme that has resonated ever since super heroes first appeared. They do this sort of thing to drive up interest to advance sales to gain readers. They’ll kill characters and then resurrect them, give them new costumes, say they're clones of the original and so on. But at the end of the day they always return to the character they once were because this sort of thing doesn't last.
Want to know the trick to enjoying superhero comics?
“If you don’t like them, then don’t read them.”
- Matt Dunford (Co-Mic Book Dork Expert)
Nobody is forcing you to read these books. If there is a controversy just jump in and enjoy the ride. If you want, but at least read a book before passing judgement. I've read over 20,000 comics in my life and and I have seen this run around over and over. After reading a plot synopsis of Secret Empire, I actually will give Nick Spencer credit for creativity. A lot of the Marvel events are just big hero and villain fights to boost sales and I actually have often quite bored of them over the years. I remember when an event used to be an event, but now they do them all the time and it loses flare.
Source: Marvel (Editor's Note: And maybe slightly dumber than Hydra Cap...).
I don't think the plot of Secret Empire sounds all that bad. But I'm also not going out of my way to be reading it anytime soon as I'm quite backed up on my reading list. If you want to read it then go ahead, but in the end don't expect Cap to stay with Hydra for all that long despite what the media says.
What do you think? Will Captain America's sleeper agent status stick? Or should Marvel keep its hands off this American icon? Let Nerdbot know in the comments!