Steve Rogers aka Captain America was created by two Jewish writers, Jack Kirby and Joe Simon as a slice of good-old fashion Nazi-beating American propaganda.
Now the Cap has changed slightly over the years, but one thing has remained the same – he’s the paladin of the Marvel Comic Universe. The virtuous Steve Rogers, legendary leader and one of the most sacred and trusted heroes in the Marvel Universe.
That was until today’s release of Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 written by Nick Spencer.
Now comic book fans come to find out their herald hero has been a sleeper cell for Hyrda all these years. Yes, the same Hydra that was aligned with the Nazis way back when Kirby and Simon created the character.
Turns out none of that matters. Maybe up in comic heaven Kirby is putting out a cigar in disgust as Simon shakes his noggin’ in disbelief. Or maybe they could care less. Unfortunately for Marvel today’s living fans aren’t too thrilled about this sudden change.
And rightfully so, Captain America is as traditional and wholesome as pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. There’s just some things you can’t – no you shouldn’t – change.
Maybe Spencer, who was described by current Marvel executive editor, Tom Brevoort in a Time Magazine interview as being “very politically active,” and Spencer plans to add a little life to Captain America comics. Perhaps he’s looking to bring a little political edge to Steve Rogers circa what Chris Claremont did for the Uncanny X-Men during his first run with the mutants in the mid-1980s.
After all Captain America has never been a heavy seller by himself. Sure, he’s well-known, but for most of us comic fans the Cap’s fondest memories have been with the Avengers or universe-wide crossovers like 2006’s Civil War.
So, maybe Spencer plans to flip the script. To bring in some of his ideologies on today’s government by changing the face of Marvel’s greatest nationalist. I mean starting today Captain America has been a secret agent for the bad guys all these years. Meaning, he’s been working with Nazis, Commies, and supervillians – you name it. He’s been playing both sides all while rubbing shoulders with the U.S. government and the “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.” Heck of a storyline when you think about it.
Not to mention, this concept (which Brevoort alluded to in the same interview as being in the works since 2014) blends nicely with the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s latest installment, Captain America: Civil War. Makes a lot more sense why he was so adamant about saving Bucky in the film. It wasn’t just about saving a childhood friend, was it now?
Now, I’m not defending Marvel’s decision here. I’m rather just rationalizing it. If anything I’m a bit shocked at the news, but I’m not furious.
Fans constantly forget something that comic book writers (especially Marvel’s) have none for a long time, the unspoken rule: nothing is permanent in the comic world.
Every character in the Marvel Universe has undergone catastrophic changes or mindbogglingly absurd story arches. They die, they come back. They turn bad, they go back to being good.
Anyone remember when Bruce Banner, one of the most brilliant minds in comics turns into an inbred hillbilly in Old Man Logan? Or how Emma Frost started off as a Hellfire Club hooker before turning into one of the leaders of the X-Men? Heck even Doctor Octopus took over Peter Parker’s conscious and became the new Spider-Man, the Superior Spider-Man.
The point here is nothing in comics is ever sacred. Not even Steve Rogers’ morality.
Fans are allowed to curse the heavens and create hashtags like #WTFMarvel. We have a right to be mad. Yet, let’s not be mad for the wrong reasons.
Rogers’ new ethical take will draw criticism, but it may also very well sell a couple million comics. Heck, it might even create a few new fans. Then once Spencer and Marvel are done running their current series the ideology of Captain America will likely evolve once again.
What fans should be upset about is Marvel’s inability to create new characters. Something I’ve been adamant about for a few years now. In recent publications, Marvel has turned Thor into a woman, piggybacking off old Thor fans; instead of creating a new female character who in return could create her own fan base and identity. They took Sam Wilson and gave him the Captain America mantle rather than producing better comics starring The Falcon, an African-American hero. Heck they put Miles Morales in the Spider-Man outfit rather than creating a new Latino hero (or heroine) in hopes Spidey fans would jump ship.
Marvel’s biggest flaw isn’t shockers like Steve Rogers working with the Axis of Evil it is their lack of true creative ingenuity Stop changing the common character rhetoric in hopes it becomes ‘edgy.’ If you want to shake it up, give us new characters or give characters like Sam Wilson and Jane Foster their rightful five minutes of fame – with their own character’s comic series.
They should create anew or give lesser known characters better series. For example, after this weekend’s X-Men: Apocalypse debuts I’m sure they’ll be a lot more Psylocke fans out there (thanks Olivia Munn), but whens the last time any of us read or saw a standalone Psylocke series?
Fans shouldn’t be upset by the change even as surprising as it may be. We should be upset that we’re still seeing the same old characters being recycled again and again and again.
Personally, I’ll always remember when Steve Rogers was a patriotic friend of mine. I guess, I’ll just have to wait until he comes back around. Sure it will only be a matter of time anyways.
Cover photo credit: Phillip Lenssen, Flickr Creative Commons