A twist ending to Marvel’s “Captain America” relaunch has driven a number of fans into a frenzy, some even issuing death threats to the writer. To these folks I say: “It’s just a comic book.”
You may have heard about the controversy, which made national news. It began in “Captain America: Steve Rogers” No. 1, which shipped late last month. That title is starting over, because Steve Rogers hasn’t been Captain America for the past couple of years in the Marvel Universe. A villain named Iron Nail negated the Super-Soldier Serum in Cap’s body in 2014, reverting him to his natural age. (Very, very old.) Sam Wilson (formerly the Falcon), has been the Star-Spangled Avenger ever since, starring in “Captain America: Sam Wilson” and a variety of Avengers titles.
Anyway, in a recent story too long to tell, an omnipotent Cosmic Cube — what was called a “tesseract” in the movies — was used to restore Rogers to normal. So, naturally, the newly restored Cap was instantly awarded his own title, the aforementioned “Captain America: Steve Rogers.” Written by the talented Nick Spencer and drawn by the dazzling Jesus Saiz, it is a truly excellent display of the comic book craft.
There’s only one hitch: In the issue we see heretofore unseen flashbacks to Steve’s mother, Sarah Rogers, in the 1930s, where she is recruited by Hydra. And in the present, Cap tosses one of his allies out of a plane, turns to a hostage and says two damning words: “Hail, Hydra.”
Yikes! Has Captain America been a sleeper agent for Hydra all along? Oh, the humanity!
Needless to say, the anti-Nazi Captain America being a sleeper agent for what amounts to a neo-Nazi organization upset quite a few people. Some took it a bit far, though, as a compilation of tweets by the website bleedingcool.com demonstrated. “Congratulations on destroying 75 years worth of characterization,” wrote one. Writer Spencer, taking it all in stride, tweeted back, “I can’t respond to 9000 tweets per second, but if I could, I would say I admire your passion.”
The purpose of any comic story is to arouse excitement, and to encourage the reader to buy the next issue. I think “Captain America: Steve Rogers” has succeeded in that regard. Moreover, Cap couldn’t have been a sleeper agent since the 1930s. If so, he certainly would have shown his true colors on any number of previous occasions, where doing so would have given Hydra control of the world. So Spencer isn’t guilty of “destroying 75 years worth of characterization.”
No, this is something new. And you know what else is new? The Cosmic Cube that remade Steve Rogers just a few issues ago. And does anyone doubt that “remade” included a new history, one where Cap’s mother was a Hydra agent? And does anyone doubt the Cosmic Cube, a device which might as well be stamped “Deus ex Machina,” can’t undo what it has done?
So the Reset Button is within reach. All Spencer has to do is get from point A to point B, which is what those in the biz call “a story.”
That may or may not be Spencer’s plan; some other fix may be in the works. But you don’t have to have the writing prowess of Stan Lee to guess that “Captain Hydra” is going to be a temporary condition.