If you have any interest in comics, and maybe even if you don’t since Marvel is in the public eye so much recently, you’ve probably heard about “Captain America: Steve Rogers #1,” or rather you’ve probably heard about the twist coming up in that story. And that twist is that Steve Rogers has always secretly been working for HYDRA. Now, if this sounds like a completely insane idea, one that doesn’t really seem to have any logical basis behind it, then that’s because that is exactly what it is.
The idea is so obviously being used for shock value and to sell a comic that there is really no way to defend it. It doesn’t add anything to the character; in fact, it actually takes everything away from him. With perhaps the exception of Superman, Captain America is the most symbolic of all superheroes, representing America’s ideals, or the ideals America should be striving for, and taking away all of that is a cheap trick to grab readers. The thing is, I’m not even surprised, or sad, because another staple of comics, or rather Marvel and DC comics, is that changes like this last for three months.
It’s that aspect that bothers me the most. No one really cares about this change. No one thinks this is good for the character. That’s not the reason behind this “twist.” And it’s rarely the reason behind any big twist in comics. It’s money, that’s the reason.
That doesn’t mean that every twist is done just for shock value, or every big event is a poorly written gimmick, but the vast majority are.
Judging by the outcry from all sides, there was very little actual thought given to how people would respond to this development, which means there must be an incredible level of hubris going on with these executives. They believe that readers will buy anything they put out. They can do whatever they want with little thought of the consequences. It’s a sad thought, but a remind of just how much the comic book industry is built on revenue.
These stunts rarely last, but they are a reminder that your money is more important than any level of quality. You’d think that this would mean that companies would focus on quality storytelling, which would lead more people to buy their product, but that’s not the case. This is because by and large people will buy anything; people aren’t really voting with their money.
And as shown here, companies believe they can put out whatever product they want, whatever will get the biggest reaction out of people, because in the end people will buy anything.
What’s the lesson to take away here? That Marvel is evil? No, more like it’s a business like every other company. The only real way to have any chance of changing a business’ practices, and this does indeed work, is to really be strict with where you spend your money. That means boycotting this comic in particular is the way to let Marvel know you’re unhappy with what they’ve done; sending in letters won’t hurt either. The point being that we can’t just consume blindly, because that is how companies get to this level of hubris.
Companies will never see us as more than a way to make money, but that doesn’t mean we can’t use that to make change.