That surefooted strategy didn't develop overnight or without any missteps along the way and the same could be said for the print versions of such comic book icons as Spiderman,Thor and the X-Men. However, a new story line was announced this week that clearly has not gone over the way that the creative crew at Marvel expected it would.
In the first issue of a new Captain America series, it was revealed that Steve Rogers is a secret Hydra agent(he even says "Hail Hydra" after taking out one of his allies) and may have always been since his childhood. The editors at Marvel insisted that this is not "an impostor, a clone" or even mind control, that this is really the true face of Captain America:
The reaction online and elsewhere has been extremely negative and for good reason. Unlike other surprise twists given to liven up a comic book franchise(and yes, this is a gimmick, despite the persistent denials by the powers that be), the anger is not "This isn't the way I want my hero!", it's more "How could you do THAT to him?"
Captain America has been showcased as the best of our patriotic intentions since his beginnings when the original creators Joe Simon and Jack Kirby had him fighting Nazi forces and their Hydra contingent in the 1940s. Over the decades, Captain America's stance on certain things has changed with the times but he's always been a consistent fighter of the good fight there.
To strip away what is the very essence of the character seemingly without any good reason is rightfully taken as a betrayal by long time fans and newcomers alike and for once, I can't blame them for their righteous fury here:
That being said, I am not endorsing making threats to anyone about this. There are more productive ways of making your feelings known to the folks involved with this series and there needs to be more than anger in your argument to be taken seriously here.
The choice to make such a dramatic turn like this with such a well known character is more than just a shock and awe deal to boost sales,in my opinion. In reading an interview with one of Marvel's editors about this story arch, I noticed a few things such as it being pointed out that the head writer of this particular Captain America series is "politically active" and a "Capitol Hill head" which allows them to "talk about political issues in a metaphorical way".
This particular response(to the question about Captain America espousing such beliefs) rang out as a deeper motive for this plot line:
Again, I don’t want to say anything too definitively because we’re laying out the story. But we want to push that button. There should be a feeling of horror or unsettledness at the idea that somebody like this can secretly be part of this organization. There are perfectly normal people in the world who you would interact with on a professional level or personal level, and they seem like the salt of the earth but then it turns out they have some horrible secret — whether it’s that they don’t like a certain group of people or have bodies buried in their basement.
You should feel uneasy about the fact that everything you know and love about Steve Rogers can be upended.
In other words, "we're worried about the way this election cycle is going and this could be a wake-up call for folks to vote the right way this November!" I could be wrong but this is what my storytelling sense is saying to me. Using this medium to get a sociopolitical message across is a time honored tradition in comics and done the right way, can be very effective in helping to create real social change. However, in this case, I think that they're preaching to the choir.
Blowback is inevitable for any major shake-up in a fictional world, especially in comics. Even the now classic Death of Superman story line had some fan fallout to deal with but in this case, I don't think that Marvel expected the backlash to arrive as quickly as it did:
Also, the timing for this story was not great,particularly given the sociopolitical climate right now. In times of turmoil, people hold on fast to their fictional heroes in order to renew their faith in the best that life and humanity has to offer. Not calling for censorship at all, just saying that maybe this particular plot line could've waited a little while longer to appear.
In the end, this Captain America adventure will end with some sort of resolution that will give us the Steve Rogers that we know and love. If you want to follow that series to see how it turns out, go for it. If not, that's understandable but please don't get riled up at anyone else who does.
Instead, take heart that at least the cinematic Captain America is not at all affected by this dark descent(Chris Evans, the actor who plays Cap was just as shocked as the rest of us about this) and if you need to revive your spirits,just press play and watch Steve Rogers fight that good fight as he was truly meant to do: