Comics Fans Respond to Captain America’s “Big Secret”

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Um … whut? **SPOILERS FOR CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #1**

If you read the new Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 that came out today, you already know: Steve Rogers and his mother had been recruited by HYDRA when he was a boy, and he’s apparently been a secret operative for HYDRA this whole time. Again, I say: Uh … whut?

cap 2

According to USA Today, Marvel’s Tom Brevoort said the following about the decision, as it goes all the way back to when Steve Rogers was rejuvenated by the Cosmic Cube after Sam Wilson:

“It will go to some scary and shocking places if it hasn’t already. Suddenly there’s a whole other wrinkle to all of it. Any cover with Steve Rogers takes on a slightly different dimension because you have information that no one else in that picture has.”

Apparently, issue #2 will give us a better idea of what actually happened with Cap, and how he’s managed to be a HYDRA operative for this long. Naturally, fans were unnerved, and Breevoort’s already started getting emails:

“The idea of Captain America means something very primal and very strong to the people of this nation, and they have a very visceral reaction when you get to something like that,” Brevoort explains. “You want people to feel and react to your story. So far, so good.”

Sure, you want them to feel and react to your story … but what exactly do you want them to feel? A good writer knows exactly what they want to say and evoke, and it isn’t just strong feels for the sake of strong feels.

Whatever writer Nick Spencer and the folks over at Marvel are trying to evoke, Captain America fans are not having it. There’s already a hashtag: #SayNoToHYDRACap

Not all fans are so upset about it. I mean, they’re not thrilled, but they see it as a representation of what’s going on in actual America:

There’s a powerful response, however, coming from the Jewish community. After all, Captain America was created by two Jewish creators as a response to World War II. Cap’s first big act was punching Hitler in the face, and HYDRA started out as a Nazi organization even if, over time, it’s morphed into the stand-in organization to represent all intolerant evil in the world:

 

Having read Captain America: Steve Rogers #1, I’m not sure how to feel about it myself. I’ve read some Captain America, but not a lot of it, so I don’t have the strong connection to the character that many people do. However, I understand that Captain America is supposed to serve as a kind of symbol, and now that symbol has been tarnished, according to some, beyond repair. Here are some of the thoughts that floated through my head after I read it:

  • This makes no sense.
  • Really? So now they need to backronym their way out of this the way they came up with what S.H.I.E.L.D. means? That’s no way to tell a story.
  • I am fascinated by the idea of heroes not being perfect, though.
  • Also, it isn’t like America as a country is above being suckered into rooting for racists when they feel like their livelihoods are in danger. A Cap who’s been a secret HYDRA operative all along might not be a symbol of the “ideal” America, but perhaps now he’s a symbol of what America actually is, or has become.
  • But aren’t heroes supposed to be above the “average people”? Isn’t that why they’re heroes?
  • Then again, I thought it was annoying of them to bring back Steve Rogers after passing the mantle on to Sam Wilson. He’ll never be considered the “real” Captain America as long as Steve Rogers gets to be Cap, too, which sucks for a Black character. Maybe this is for the best so that we can focus on Sam as the true Cap?
  • I understand the outrage from and on behalf of Jewish fans. Having an anti-Nazi hero turn out to have been an agent for a Nazi organization is not cool.
  • I don’t understand the outrage from people who say that this is bad decision because “what about the children?!” The target audience for most comics hasn’t been children in a really long time, which is why all-ages comics are such a big deal.

Needless to say, my feelings are a bit mixed. How about yours?

Overall, I’m a bit annoyed we’re even having this discussion, because I’m so, so tired of hearing companies tout diversity only to keep going back to the same wells and the same legacy characters doing ridiculous things like this to keep them interesting after 75 years rather than writing new shit and telling new stories. *Sigh.*

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Author
Teresa Jusino
Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.