For seventy five years Captain America has been the goody-good face of a Marvel envisioned universe. His motives have always seemed transparent and his virtue the shining beacon of American exceptionalism. But on Wednesday, when the latest reboot was released, Captain America: Steve Rodgers #1, readers we’re in for a shock, or maybe more accurately, a punch from the Captain’s weapons-grade fists. Surprise! He’s a secret operative for the (Nazi) organization, Hydra.
Image courtesy of Screenrant
The plot twist, although initially cause for laugh and a ‘this is totally a gimmick, right?’, has actually been a twist in the making for some time. For over a year, the two writers behind the reboot issue of Captain America, Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz, have been scheming in the Marvel Realm, and following the bread crumbs back to their first issue the dots do seem to line up. Of course, we won’t tell you how (because we’re civil humans, not cruel spoilers), but the move appears to be far from a gimmick. In fact, it’s intended as a test of character strength – how will the Captain get out of this fascist flavored pickle?
After readers broke through th first phase of befuddlement, many became unsettled by the reveal, especially consideing it’s political resonance for current conversation. Hydra hate speech blasts ‘criminal tresspassers’ and an ‘invading army’ of refugees bringing ‘fanatical crime’ to Europe, causing some to speculate a connection to a certain presumptive U.S. candidate. Hint, hint, think big walls and itty bitty hands.
In an interview with Time magazine, Marvel executive editor Tom Brevoort, supported a not so subtle link between the Marvel Universe and the equally precarious ground of reality. “Comics in 2016 that are about the world and the zeitgeist of 2016, particularly in Captain America. Nick Spencer, the writer, is very politically active.” Using Hydra hate speech allegorically creates this contemporary frame (albeit making us very uncomfortable), ammassig the “weight and meat” Brevoort refers to later in the interview.
The O.G. Captian had in run-ins with the Nazis (Image courtesy of Hypable)
Beyond the parallels to the current political ether this election seems to be drowning us with, what exactly does this reveal mean for the Captain? A deeply trusted hero – one who’s been the patriot and protector for the past seventy five years – is suddenly less trustworthy. It has a dismantling effect on the reader’s long harrowing relationship with the character, potentially drawing everything we know about him into just the shiny red white and blue façade of a villain. He becomes unreliable as a narrator and unstable as a one dimensionally good-guy archetype. But, the develpment also gives him greater depth. “There should be a feeling of horror or unsettledness at the idea that somebody like this can secretly be part of this organization,” Brevoort continues later in the interview. “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.”
Featured image courtesy of Hypable.