So as most comic and Marvel fans know, Captain America: Steve Rogers #1, written by Nick Spencer, dropped a couple of days ago (May 25, 2016), and with it dropped a massive atomic, swastika splattered bomb, or so some might think. Thanks to social media, it’s no secret that without even reading the issue, that Captain America is in fact a Hydra Agent, and has been all along. Plot twist? Bad writing? Inventive writing? Who knows! This is only Issue #1.
The most well revered writers do the painstakingly frustrating job of constructing a plot that places the readers and the characters in a state of awkward discomfort, leaving them wanting to read more, hoping with finger turning (or swiping) hunger that the next page presents a resolution to whatever is presented as “the problem.” This task often comes packaged with the precarious “high risk, high reward” dichotomy, with the hopes that the story creates just enough of a predicament to make the story interesting, without completely disgusting readers, thus warding them off any further reading that may or may not lead to a satisfactory arc conclusion. Some writers go far to accomplish this task and eventually lead to what readers will call a “well-written” story years from now. But how far is too far?
Since 1941, Captain America was written as a symbol for the American people, created quite specifically to galvanize American unity against the Nazi’s in the time of war. Issue #1 depicted him whacking Nazi leader Adolf Hitler with a powerful right hook. This was Timely Comics’ way of showing their patriotism with art and supporting the American war effort.
Furthermore, Hydra was created specifically to represent Nazi’s, the enemy, and all that is un-American. During this time Captain America wasn’t a simple super hero for kids, he was a banner that represented the Pride of America, that was effectively “punching Nazi’s in the face.” Captain America was America’s hero.
Fast forward to 2016. Issue #1 Captain America is revealed to be the very thing he professed to be fighting against for over 75 years… Hydra! Good writing or no, is this acceptable? Is this something that fans can easily write off as “risky plotting” or is it a metaphor for what America today represents? This goes directly against what Stan Lee created him to stand for. If Captain America is corrupt, what does that mean for America? Can it, itself also be corrupt? Yes, this is just a comic book, and there is likely going to be a long-winded resolution or explanation for the direction that Nick’s taken with this new ongoing series, but right here, at Issue #1, an issue sure to never be forgotten, no matter what follows, what might he be trying imply? By taking Comic Book’s most trustworthy and patriotic symbol and twisting him into the enemy, it creates a most unsettling sense of disquiet among readers, and rightfully so. He is the archetype for the ideal American soldier, and fights for the freedom of the American people. To corrupt him with Nazi notions swipes our American pride right from beneath our feet. As a bold narrative move I can respect that, but as a blow to the pride of American comic book fans? Nothing be worse. But this is Issue #1 of an ongoing series. Let’s see where the writing will take us.
But enough about how sickening it is for the Captain to be the direct opposite of what we apparently thought he was for all these years. The actual contents of this issue is brilliantly written. Without giving away the meat and potatoes, despite the already obviously revealed spoiler, you will certainly be at your comic book store first thing in the morning come issue #2’s release to flip voraciously through the pages in effort to learn more about this new revelation, likely in hopes that it was all just a dirty joke. The book easily slips into the classic familiarity of a Captain America story with Steve Rogers back at front and center, and cleverly threads together a robust narrative that makes it almost impossible to doubt that Cap is what he says he is on that final page. The reader doesn’t get the option of easily brushing the harsh affirmation off as a simple gimmick or a small-scale story arc opening. Still have doubts? Spencer told Entertainment Weekly:
It is heartbreakingly apparent, that Steve Rogers, is indeed, Hydra. If you can get past the implications, metaphors and that bad taste the words “Hail Hydra” leave in your mouth, I definitely recommend picking up Captain America: Steve Rogers #1. I’m sure there are more shocking reveals in store in future issues.