I don’t really comment about Marvel Comics, their series and characters. I grew up on DC, and that’s always been the way my tastes have run. I had a spell of dabbling in the Marvel Universe that basically lasted from about 1979 to 1984, but I severed my last remaining connections with Marvel over the Jack Kirby Dispute and have never really gone back. The films are great fun, though.
This week has seen the latest development in the career of Captain America. Steve Rogers is back, after a couple of years of being too old, but he’s now been rejuvenated. Sam Wilson is staying as Captain America, so now there are two of them, with different series. Nifty idea.
But the new Captain America: Steve Rogers series has decided to start with a twist ending. It’s a very controversial twist that has got many people outraged. It’s led to mass condemnation, death threats against the writer and copies of the comic being burned. Oh my.
What is so bad that it’s aroused such hostility? Consider that Cap was created 75 years ago by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby specifically as an American symbol to fight against Adolf Hitler. Consider that both Simon and Kirby were Jewish. Consider that Cap’s most significant enemy is the Red Skull, a left-over Nazi. Consider that the Skull is an important figure in the creation and history of HYDRA, the fascistic organisation bent on taking over the world. Consider that this all has been the case for seventy five years solid.
Now consider that the twist in Captain America: Steve Rogers 1 is that Cap is, and always has been a secret Hydra Agent.
Never mind that it won’t last, that there’ll be an explanation for it, that sooner or later he’ll revert to his real self, this is a stupid idea. It’s a stupid idea because it is completely unbelievable. Because no-one with half a degree of intelligence can believe in it for even as long as the split second it takes to read the panel in which Cap says, “Hail Hydra”.
Because the very idea is a complete profanity of the character. It is an exact reversal of everything that Captain America is, was, always has been and always will be so long as he remains a character of any significance. I’m wary of accepting any mythical dimension attaching to superheroes, let alone the suggestion, only today, that they are our modern gods, but it is not exaggerating to say that this idea is a blasphemy.
Which is why it fails completely as a concept, as a springboard for a story. It’s wrong, and it’s impossible to take the idea seriously for a moment. Anything done with this idea has nothing to do with Steve Rogers. It will be divorced utterly from Captain America’s history.
No point in protesting, no point in death threats (there are never any point to death threats, save to identify those who are inadequate in their comprehension of life), although there is a point in burning the idiot thing: might as well start the process of excising the thing now as later.