Captain Hydra: Halftime Report

Now that Secret Empire #5 has reached store shelves, we would like to share a very interesting comment that we have received from a friend of Geek Tank Radio and The CineMasoCast.

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Malcolm Wright

I know this is supposed to be about Steve, but I feel like an important facet of this conversation is Sam Wilson’s time as Cap and the reaction he received from some comic fans. Namely, a lot of them didn’t like it. Some even hated it. So, imagine the reactions around the comic book world when it was announced that Steve was getting his youth back. The excitement was palpable. There was a huge special issue for the 75th anniversary that culminates in Kobik making the change that we’re all now familiar with. All the #NotMyCap people got their Steve back—but with a catch.

I understand the issue of Captain America’s long-term legacy and I’m not gonna decry anyone who dislikes this plotline because of that. It is very jarring to see Cap say “Hail Hydra.” Nick Spencer was decidedly taking a huge risk by writing this storyline and if he didn’t expect backlash, I would be surprised by that more than anything else. Some have made the argument that with the current climate, this was just the wrong time to tell this story but I feel that with the combined narrative of “Sam Wilson: Captain America” and “Steve Rogers: Captain America” in play, this may be the best time to tell this story. The first issue of Steve Rogers paints a picture I personally knew well. Red Skull has the powers of Professor Xavier, but he doesn’t need them to bring disenfranchised young people to the side of fascism. At a time that we thought (Captain) America would be great again, we instead got to see the power of fear and control.

Now, this storyline—that I mentioned is spread between two books—shows not only the difficulty of doing the right then when you have little support; it also showed how easy it is to do evil things when no one deigns to suspect you because you have a friendly face, you know how to spin the right yarn, and you know how to silence the right people. To me these are truly Timely comics. I think the best Captain America stories are ones rooted in the times. If the mantle represents the ideals of America, then there’s no better mirror for us to look into. But you can ignore this whole paragraph if you want to, the most important thing I want to talk about is this:

My biggest problem with this Secret Empire/Hydra Steve storyline and the reactions coming from it is the amount of misinformation at play. People either on blogs or geek news sites have had a habit of sharing either panels/pages out of context or fully unfounded information as fact, leading to other people who haven’t or don’t read the comics getting an inaccurate picture of what’s going on with the storyline. I have to acknowledge that this is partially Marvel’s fault because I’m sure they’ve let some of this happen to fan the flames. For example: I’m fully prepare to eat my words if this changes in the future but as of this writing there is not a single hint anywhere in the comics that Magneto is joining Hydra. There is a very long list of villains who have come on board but Magneto hasn’t even been operating as a villain for a couple of years now. But people everywhere believe Magneto signing up with Hydra is a thing that has actually happened somewhere and because they’re not inclined to read the comics anyway, they don’t know that this is a false assertion. Again, thanks to headlines, people believe that Marvel has changed their timeline. Really, it’s just all part of the new memories Kobik has given Steve.

While I can’t make anyone like this story line and I wouldn’t try to make anyone like it, I do wish more people took the time to at least research and see the full picture that Nick Spencer has been painting. If they still hate it after that, I’m perfectly ok with that. At the end of the day, everyone is entitled to their opinion. I can’t make people accept the way Nick Spencer has handled this entire situation outside the comics, because he’s made a few moves that I consider grave mistakes in his handling of things. I’m not going to go into that though. I understand if nobody feels like heeding Marvel’s call to more or less “Let this all play out.” But I understand Marvel making that call in the first place. This isn’t the first time a crossover event started with the villain looking not only victorious, but insurmountably so. I am willing to see where this goes because there is a chance that Nick will end this whole debacle with a great ending that sends a really positive message. Only time will tell, and with the landscape at Marvel being what it is right now, I’m a little happy to see any story actually get published to completion.

Malcolm Wright is a local geek, musician, and contributor to the MadCap Report Podcast. He has been an avid comic book reader for years, a regular in the Memphis convention circuit, and has made guest appearances on Geek Tank Radio.

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