If you still haven’t read the comic book that the whole Internet is talking about and didn’t stumble upon thousands of articles and blog posts about it – well, first, congratulations and second: beware, SPOILERS AHEAD! But the chances are you have heard about the controversy and – as most comic book fans probably are – you’re still trying to wrap your head around it.
So first, a quick reminder of what it’s all about. And because a picture is worth a thousand words, let’s just have a look.
That doesn’t look pretty, right? One of the most symbolic American superheroes (well, next to Superman) turns out to be the very antithesis of what he symbolises. More than that: it really – pardon the expression – pisses people off.
So what are the details? As it turns out in Captain America: Steve Rogers first issue, which was launched last Wednesday, Captain America is in fact a double agent working for Hydra. Moreover, the flashbacks running parallel to the story suggest that he has been working for the terrorist organization, well, ever since. The horrifying “Hail Hydra” put into his mouth serves as a cliffhanger at the end of the story and it really got the Internet talking. In a really vocal way. But while most of people are rather getting at how unfortunate story decision it is and while they’re noticing antisemitism behind it, they are forgetting one thing: how cheap the whole thing seems to be.
Marvel isn’t new to retcons like this. You probably remember One More Day, The Clone Saga, Heroes Reborn, Iron Man: The Crossing or that time when the Punisher became black after a plastic surgery (sic!). All were attempts to shock the readers and get them talking, on par with that old motto: “It doesn’t matter HOW they talk about it, it matters THAT they talk about it”. And all this “Captain America is a double agent” feels like it was devised as a free marketing stunt.
I may be wrong, of course, but comic book experience tells me there are two options with such twists: we’ll either get an explanation of Cap’s motives and the shocking revelation of Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 will be retconned (there already are theories out there) or we’ll see a tiring story of other supergeroes trying to get Captain on the right side (and finally succeeding). Either way, while I certainly appreciate the shock value, as for now I can’t see anything beside said shock value. And that’s what bothering me the most. Because playing with people’s emotions just to get them talking (and achieve better publicity, which would inevitably translate to better sales) is obviously not fair.