Remember when Marvel Comics told us Captain America was an agent of Hydra and the Internet split in half? Ouch, that hurt, right?
Apparently, yes. A whole helluva lot.
Fans like you and me went ballistic. What the kids would call “off the hook.” And a star-spangled shield couldn’t protect comics writer Nick Spencer and all his cohorts at Marvel from the backlash.
A backlash Vulture describes as “vicious accusations of anti-Semitism, backlash to those accusations from comics historians, a torrent of death threats, a much-read essay comparing the aforementioned death threats to demands for queer inclusion in comics, essays backlashing that essay, a harsh fight between a prominent comics blogger and a successful comics writer, and Thor knows what else in the future.”
What all that boils down to is this:
Get over it. It’s a comic book story and a good old fashioned comic book gimmick. Let’s all settle down and realize that.
Still not convinced? Still ready to write a scathing email to the Marvel bullpen? Take a moment to consider these five reasons you just need to get over it:
Remember all those times Captain America wasn’t Steve Rogers?
During the Silver Age, Captain America turned out not to be Steve Rogers, but an imposter - a villain named the Acrobat (who was handily defeated by the Human Torch). And many others have donned the Captain America costume as well - William Naslund, Jeffrey Mace and William Burnside, to name a few.
Steve Rogers even ditched the Cap mantel and became Nomad once, during a time when he didn’t trust the government he was working for. Others filled the role at that time, including John Walker during another stint when Rogers abandoned the title.
And then there’s Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier. Bucky became Captain America for a while, after Steve Rogers was assassinated. Yep. Steve Rogers was dead. Until he wasn’t.
Just like Steve Rogers is a member of Hydra. Until he’s not.
Which is to say, nothing is permanent in comics. C’mon, we all know that. Characters change, alliances change, others adopt the hero’s name. So rather than fret about a cliffhanger, enjoy the ride and see where Spencer takes us. You might like the twists and turns.
Don’t you remember Jean Grey?
Jean was the darling of the X-Men. She was like a daughter to Professor X, and all the boys on the X-Men loved her (well, except for Bobby “Ice Man” Drake). Then she went and destroyed a planet, killing millions of people.
Lots of heroes become villains. Jean Grey, Bucky Barnes and Jason Todd, just to name a few. A lot of beloved heroes break bad - often all for the better.
Recently, Tony Stark took a ride on the dark side in Superior Iron Man. A nasty Stark basically took half of California hostage. Even Scarlet Witch walked the line in House of M.
Steve Rogers isn’t any different. He is as fallible as any other hero in the Marvel Universe. As long as he is just as conflicted, all will be fine.
Don’t you remember Emma Frost?
Lots of villains become heroes, too. My introduction to Emma Frost was as an X-Men villain. She was the Hellfire Club’s White Queen and mentored a team of evil mutants called the Hellions.
Until that all fell apart and Professor X recruited her to mentor a team of new mutants called Generation Next. Today, she’s one of the X-Men’s central leaders (though you sense there’s still bits of that bad seed in her).
Which is to say, what if Steve Rogers has had Hydra connections since he was a boy? What’s to say he agrees with what Hydra believes? What’s to say he hasn’t embraced his role as Captain America and isn’t working an angle.
And that takes us to our next point.
You don’t know the whole story - so patience, Patience!
All this hullabaloo over one panel and what is obviously a strong cliffhanger designed to ruffle your feathers and buy the next issue.
The whole thing is designed to be a kind of “Holy $h!t!” moment for readers. It’s not designed to strip away years of character development and thumb it’s nose a comic book history.
The larger story? Now that’s something to be excited about.
When was the last time a true layer of Steve Rogers’ life was peeled back and revealed? How do we know this new information won’t provide us an even deeper understanding as to why Steve Rogers is the Boy Scout we know and love?
There’s always more to the story. Always.
Marvel Comics most certainly employs brand managers
Still worried? Don’t be. Marvel Comics certainly has a brand manager on the payroll.
What does that person do? Well, he or she ensures the company doesn’t damage the brand of its various properties. You know, Spider-Man doesn’t start packing a gun (unless he’s Spider-Man Noir) and Iron Man doesn’t burn down orphanages. Stuff like that.
(Before any marketing folk write me, yes, I know that a brand manager doesn’t handle that kind of brand - but roll with me here.)
Basically what I’m trying to say is the company is going to protect its assets. Sure, Nick Spencer can tell a story about how Steve Rogers is actually a member of Hydra. But when that arc ends, it better be pretty clear that Rogers is still, for the most part, the Boy Scout he’s always been.
With that in mind, why not let the Cap crew tell us an intricate story that adds new information to the character we cherish?
Isn't that what we want?
Follow me on Twitter at @midwestmovies and @marvelcineuniv, and on Facebook.