On the morning of Wednesday, May 25 Marvel comics introduced a shocking twist when "Captain America: Steve Rogers #1" went on sale. The twist you ask? Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America, supports the evil Nazi organization, Hydra. This issue was released by Nick Spencer, Jesus Saiz, and Joe Caramagna. This article will have spoilers (only which I have read online) about this issue; read at your own discretion.
Rejuvenated, Steve Rogers is back in the field . . . right until he tosses an ally to his death and then declares "Hail Hydra" on the final page. The whole thing has flashbacks to Steve's childhood of a neighbor inviting Steve's mother to a Hydra meeting, thus implying that Steve was indoctrinated as a child and has been a sleeper agent of Hydra all along.
This is comics, right? Unleashing new shocking twists to get readers to pick up the newest issue! Make everything All-New-All-Different for a few months until things settle back into the status quo. Have a character behave so out of character that readers have to know why.
Except, in my mind, this is different than having Superman being a jackass to Lois or killing off a beloved character, resurrecting them, and then having them be an assassin figure. This is even different than the out of character stunts that would normally have readers up in arms.
Quick history lesson on Captain America. The first issue, as displayed on its cover, dates back to 1941. The title character was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby as a super-powered, super-patriotic soldier fighting the Axis forces. He was famously depicted punching Adolf Hitler on the cover of his first issue, which actually hit the stands in 1940. This was a full year before Pearl Harbor and before the USA joined WWII, making that cover a bold political statement. Don't think that the creators were taking this issue lightly. Like most of the biggest names in the Golden Age of comics, they were both Jewish. They both had families living in Europe at the time of World War II who had lost everything and eventually their lives in the Holocaust. The creation of Captain America was deeply political and personal.
Captain America's back story had never been changed, but yesterday Marvel did. Of course, there are a thousand ways for Marvel to undo this, and I am sure that they will. Steve Rogers is not going to stay Hydra any more than Superman stayed dead. But what the hell were they thinking? It obviously got people talking, and maybe they will get more readers so people will know what happens. But I think that more people have been almost rioting and saying that they won't read Marvel anymore.
Here's the thing though, the idea of a major Marvel hero being evil isn't exactly a new idea. Marvel has been going through a phase of having superheroes now evil for the past five years. Spider-Man, Cyclops, and, most recently, pretty much the entire Marvel universe is turning evil for varying lengths of time. There was even a time that Iron Man had been evil all along. In the 1995 "Avengers: The Crossing," it was revealed that Tony Stark had secretly been evil for years of canonical comic-book events. It was a crazy idea and fans have spent years trying to forget that it even happened. This lasted less than a year. So odds are that this will all just blow over, no matter how awful it may seem.
The writer Nick Spencer and editor Tom Brevoort are concerned with making this "something new an unexpected." They wanted to make readers more "invested in Hydra characters." Yes, let's have fun with downplaying genocidal psychopaths.
Normally I don't get involved in comics, hell I don't even read them. I mainly know what I have read online, heard from friends, and seen from the movies. But this makes me so mad. I am angry because Steve Rogers's Jewish creator literally fought in a war against the organization Marvel has made him a part of just to grab headlines. I am angry because the very real pain of the Jewish communities has been dismissed since this news leaked on Tuesday night as "Twitter outrage."
I hope that this will all just blow over like all the other insane things that comics have done.