Here are my almost stream-of-consciousness, maybe unfocused, thoughts on the major comic book single issue of the past week: Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 by writer Nick Spencer and artist Jesus Saiz.
The startling revelation that Steve Rogers had been a Hydra agent all along sparked plenty of conversation over the past week. Cap’s big swerve has gone beyond all artistic critique: whatever resolution to this story won’t generate as much mainstream press as his betrayal. Even Stan Lee, who helped develop Captain America as a “man out of time” in the mid-1960s, liked Cap’s new professed allegiance. Chris Evans, the current embodiment of Cap, was amusingly befuddled.
There was the inevitable Internet Backlash: the sadly standard variety of outrage and ugly threats. The backlash has made inspired think pieces about the nature of fandom and fan entitlement is poisonous. Also, there’s ridiculous dragging co-creators Kirby and Simon into this fan conflict. In my view, such overreaction is a product of the social media age which much intensifies and makes viral hyperbole.
Sometimes it seems some of us lose sight that Captain America is ultimately a corporate product which will last until eternity thanks to copyright and trademark laws. Furthermore, the nature of superhero comic book stories is such that continuity has to stay fluid to some extent.
All this brouhaha going about Cap surpassed discussions of DC Rebirth #1, which brought out Watchmen and three Jokers into the main DC Comics Universe. For mainstream media outlets, “Captain America Becomes Traitor” is an easier story for non-comics readers to grasp than “Blue Guy Who Should Be With Bearded Wizard Creates Superman and Batman’s Universe. Also, Joker! Joker! Joker!”
Anyone still pondering the fate of Steve Rogers of the comics should think about how this reaction betters Marvel’s bottom line. I’m getting more cynical than when I stuck with Dan Slott plotting Doctor Octopus assuming Peter Parker’s life in Superior Spider-Man. Marvel executives will enjoy this initial “hype,” comic book speculators will get a few dollars in their pocket for Steve Rogers #1, and the full hows and whys of Steve’s partnering with Hydra will be forgotten in about five years.