Captain America or Captain Evil?
This past Wednesday, Marvel began publishing their new Captain America: Steve Rogers comic series, written by Nick Spencer with art by Jesus Saiz. The series was supposed to be the revival of Steve Rogers as Captain America (Sam Wilson has taken over as Captain America in recent series) to celebrate Marvel’s 75th Anniversary.
Yet when fans read the first issue, a twist was thrown in. Spencer decided to reveal that Captain America was actually an undercover Hydra agent, and apparently has been all along. For those not well-versed in the universe, Hydra are the bad guys. Hydra grew out of the Nazis. They began as the science division of Hitler’s Naziism – lead by Red Skull. Since World War II, Hydra has evolved into the universe’s number one terrorist organization. And apparently according to Spencer, Cap was part of this all along.
There has been a huge backlash to this reveal from fans, and understandably so. Cap is one of the more well known, and more loved, characters in comic book history. Any major change is going to make fans upset. But this isn’t just that. Fans are upset because of what Spencer is trying to turn Cap into, as well as the fact that is just doesn’t make sense.
Cap is probably the most anti-Nazi, anti-terrorist character that has ever existed. Captain America was created during WWII by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon. Both Kirby and Simon are Jewish. They created the character as a response to how they felt about Hitler and Naziism during the war. Captain America was created to fight against Nazis. The first cover of Captain America shows Steve Rogers punching Hitler in the face. Hydra was Kirby and Simon’s way of adding a superhuman element to Naziism, and creating it into an even worse villain than the ones that existed in the real world.
The essence of Captain America is to be the good guy. That is why the skinny little Steve Rogers at the beginning of the war was chosen to be medically turned into Captain America – because he was good through and through. If the serum that turned him in Captain America was given to someone who wasn’t entirely good, it wouldn’t work the way it should, for example, Red Skull.
Throughout the 75 year history of Marvel, Captain America is the character that is known for being the good guy. He is unwavering in that, and the majority of his storylines focus on him doing what needs to be done even if that means risking his life. He is one of few characters that can use Thor’s hammer, which does not move for people who are not 100% worthy.
First and foremost, it just doesn’t make sense to all of a sudden reveal that Cap has been a villain all along. Since day one Captain America’s mission is to defeat the bad guys who usually end up being Hydra. If Cap was really Hydra all along, why wouldn’t he have been revealed sooner? None of the storylines make sense given that. There are so many series of Captain America helping to defeat Hydra and reveal Hydra secrets. Why would he have been hired by Hydra to do that? And when the Hydra secrets were flushed out, why wouldn’t someone have found the information about Captain America secretly being Hydra?
Beyond it not making sense, turning Captain America into a Hydra agent is an incredibly dangerous move. Sure, it upsets older fans like me who are mad it doesn’t fit with the other previous stories.
But Captain America is one of the superheroes that is most beloved by kids. Kids read Captain America because he is the good guy and always is. He’s supposed to be the role model for how kids should act. Cap doesn’t turn to the bad side when his life gets hard. His purpose is to show how to be the good person rather than turning to evil at the first sign of getting power. The most heartbreaking stories from this storyline are coming from people talking about their little siblings, cousins, and friends saying that they don’t understand why their favorite superhero is now a villain. Young kids don’t understand that different writers come in and can essentially do whatever they want to a character. All they see is that their beloved character is not who they thought he was.
I’m terrified of this new storyline, because of the negative effect it could create. It has the potential to completely ruin of the most beloved superheroes, and I don’t think Nick Spencer realizes how important of an issue that is. It’s also turning a character meant to be the image of pure good into a Nazi-inspired character. Additionally, Spencer is creating a PR nightmare. He’s been on Twitter thanking “fans” for their attention and for supporting the series. He refuses to answer questions about his motives for making Cap a Hydra agent, or where he plans to go with the series.
It’s only had one issue, so maybe Spencer has something in mind to turn the series into something that makes sense. Beyond the storyline, the first issue in itself was just poorly written and seemed like it was rushed and not thought out. On a side writing note, the most common mistake when you don’t know what to do with a character, is turning them into a villain. All the series currently is doing is showcasing Spencer’s poor writing.
The series has a guaranteed five-issue run, and could be extended depending on sales and reception. Based on how everyone is talking about it, if Marvel wants to save itself it will cancel the series. Most fans are boycotting the series, and many are stopping subscription services and all Marvel series while this series is ongoing. I personally will not be giving any money to this series, and I encourage all other comic readers to do the same. Read the story online from a non-Marvel affiliated service if you’re interested. Do not give money to Nick Spencer or this series. Captain America is not Hydra.