Sons of Serpent Captain America

Regular readers of this blog know that I am a U.S. Army veteran. What they might not know is the last thing I did before walking into the recruiter’s office as an 18-year-old — I sat and stared at a Captain America comic book in my local comic shop. I thought about what it would mean to serve my country, where it would take me, and whether or not I should take that leap into the super-unknown. That is why it saddens me when a writer like Nick Spencer infuses characters with his own petty politics.

I went on record when it was first announced that Sam Wilson would be Captain America that I was on board with the decision. I wanted to support Marvel financially. Why would I do that, however, when the first issue of Sam Wilson: Captain America turns conservative Americans into the enemy over an issue like illegal immigration?

The Daily Caller reported Friday:

The action — and the political preaching — unfolds in the Marvel-produced “Captain America: Sam Wilson #1,” as noted in a video released by the MacIver Institute.

In the issue, Captain America beats up members of a white supremacist militia called the Sons of the Serpent as they attempt to apprehend a group of illegal aliens crossing the desert from Mexico into Arizona.

The leader of the group, the Serpent Commander, makes statements that are similar to what Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has been criticized for saying during his White House run. The Commander longs for the construction of “the mighty wall” and laments the “trouble and disease and crime” that the border-crossers are bringing with them.

Sam Wilson

When Captain America isn’t on stage at a gay pride parade, he now fights silly depictions of conservative Americans. A similar thing happened in 2010 when Steve Rogers took on … the Tea Party.

  • Where are Captain America’s missions with Joint Special Operations Command?
  • Why isn’t he working with Ranger-run task forces to take down individuals in the Haqqani Network?
  • Why have we never seen Captain America in Kandahar province, Afghanistan?
  • Why have we never seen Cap on a mission in the Sulaiman Mountains?
  • Why have we never seen Steve Rogers perform a HAHO (high-altitude, high-opening) jump into Abbotttabad, Pakistan?

Shall I go on?

It is embarrassing that Marvel regularly wastes potential of a character like Captain America on the myopic tit-for-tat politics of men like Nick Spencer.

In the one book that should attempt to unite all Americans, we now have immature political pot-shots that a.) will not stand the test of time, and b.) turn off readers who would otherwise be interested in purchasing the product.

Perhaps Sam Wilson or Steve Rogers will eventually be written by someone whose mind operates outside the domestic public policy squabbles of short-lived news cycles. Until then, I won’t be picking up Sam Wilson: Captain America.

Three cheers to Marvel, and its highly unique business model of needlessly alienating potential customers.

Related: Captain America exists — and his name is Kyle Carpenter

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

43 comments

  1. Wow, my close friend CF just told me about this. Why, I like Spencer’s work but this is dreadful. If you can’t tell I am a big fan of Captain America, and I love Sam as well (which is why I would rather see Marvel promote him as Falcon rather than giving him a temp job until the next movie). With that said I still gave the books a fair shot and found them decent, but this?
    Why did this get past the editor? This is Marvel forcing their views on readers. I am a long time reader and over the years their actions have done nothing but push me away.
    Good job Marvel way to reduce your market.

    1. I was hoping you would comment, Truth. I know you are a huge Captain America fan.

      Every single time Marvel does something like this, they lose guys like us. We’ve talked about it before, but I used to spend a good chunk of change on Marvel comics. Those days are over, which is funny because now I actually have the income to support heavier reading.

      I suppose it’s for the best. I use the extra cash to go out to dinner with my wife. 🙂

    2. My friend CF said he is contacting Marvel about this to share his feelings. He is in a similar place with Marvel, I am currently not buying any Marvel comic book products but I think he still purchases some but he has cut back as well.

  2. I have contacted Marvel reps to tell them why I am saddened, I was looking forward to this book and now I will not buy the next one. After a nice discussion (the Marvel rep was very nice) they said people can email the editor and share their views at mheroes@marvel.com

    She assured me the letters would get to the editor.

    I would never send mean messages and it is their business and they can run it as they wish, but as customers we also have the right to share our concerns about the product.

    I am getting tired of Marvel letting writers and editors shove politics and their beliefs on the readers and I think they need to really see that they are pushing away a large portion of readers. Just for the record I would also be against shoving my personal beliefs on others if I was writing the book.

    Overall I just want to let them know that as a customer I will not continue purchasing products filled with political bias. I love some of Nick Spencer’s work and I was looking forward to this book, now I am back to zero titles from Marvel but there may be a new series on the way that I will check out.

    1. After a nice discussion (the Marvel rep was very nice) they said people can email the editor and share their views at mheroes@marvel.com She assured me the letters would get to the editor.

      There is only one problem with that: The editors essentially all subscribe to the same petty politics as Mr. Spencer. When someone like you or Truth tactfully says, “Hey, this is over the top and uncalled for,” all that matters to them is dehumanizing you for your conservative or libertarian leanings. You suddenly become a de facto “Serpent,” no matter what you say or how it’s presented.

      At some point Marvel decided it was making enough money on movies (and now television), that the editors at the comics were basically left to their own (partisan) devices. I guess that works as long as the movies keep making money. I still think it’s bizarre to needlessly burn bridges with long-time readers.

  3. Sad but true, the thing is that even though we may not represent a big portions of sales we still are some of them. With sales as low as they are they need to be getting people together. If I would venture a guess between CF’s and my family I bet we have over 25,000 comic books.

    1. Exactly.

      Think of all the guys like us all across the country. Now image all our comics in one huge pile. Now imagine all of it disappearing, because that’s what is happening. I guess they’ll just continue lying to themselves by saying this kind of stuff isn’t damaging sales. It most certainly does.

  4. Just when I thought Marvel couldn’t stoop any lower, they did. This is the 2010 Tea Party storyline all over again. Have you ever noticed that Captain America, as of late, seems to battle his own people more than he does the actual enemies of this nation? Plus, by using the Sons of the Serpent as the bad guys, Spencer is painting people opposed to illegal immigration as “racist.” Real classy there.

    Like Doug has said before, where are the black ops missions in Afghanistan? Where are the stories where he actually fights Islamist terrorists? You know, the ones that want to destroy us. Why isn’t he battling ISIS, or a fictional counterpart of ISIS? And furthermore, why the f*** is Captain America at a gay pride parade? That doesn’t make any sense.

    Way to alienate more readers, Marvel. Your movies and shows are vastly superior to the comics these days, anyway. At least they aren’t driven by politically correct nonsense like this (for the most part).

    1. Also, the Daily Caller article you linked to shows this Tweet from Spencer:

      Which proves he’s yet another liberal hack who parrots the “correct” views and thus gets writing gigs at places like Marvel.

    2. The guy has a thing against Trump, so he weirdly takes it out in the pages of a Marvel comic book. I’m not rooting for the guy to win the Republican nomination, but if I were writing for Marvel comics I wouldn’t let it bleed into my stories. It’s lame. It’s cheesy. And it’s just sad.

      I guess Captain America doesn’t have time to go after Mexican drug cartels, either. How convenient…

    3. And furthermore, why the f*** is Captain America at a gay pride parade? That doesn’t make any sense.

      Perhaps a splinter group of the Sons of the Serpent — the Sons of the Straight Serpent — threatened to bomb the parade. They weren’t like members of the Islamic State group who are actually killing gay people. They probably looked like the really nice Mormons who go on missionary trips to third-world countries…

  5. I’m not surprised at all by this, but it’s still a let down. Out of all the recent changes made to the Marvel universe, this was one I thought I could get behind, because it makes sense for Sam’s character. Sam taking Cap’s mantle isn’t an arbitrary and out-of-left-field change, unlike some other shakeups that have been discussed on here. It’s just a shame that what could have been a refreshing read is now muddled in the same old politicking that Marvel has done for a while now. This feels like a wasted opportunity.

    1. It’s just a shame that what could have been a refreshing read is now muddled in the same old politicking that Marvel has done for a while now. This feels like a wasted opportunity.

      Boom. And now matter how often it’s pointed out to these guys, they keep doing the same thing. They can’t help themselves. It’s like a strange sickness.

      I’m being honest here. If I was assigned to write The Amazing Spider-Man tomorrow, there is no way I would start taking strange shots at Hillary Clinton. Aren’t superheroes supposed to have bigger fish to fry? Why would I let Peter Parker get bogged down in some childish political vendetta against Mrs. Clinton? I’d feel like a loser if I did that to my favorite character.

    2. You would need a more powerful hero to help a 747 filled with women Bill assaulted. Here is a list of dead Clinton enemies/witnesses that died in plane/train crashes, & the reason Trump gives free helicopter rides to kids at events.
      http://whatreallyhappened.com/RANCHO/POLITICS/BODIES.html

      That’s as coincidental as a black moslem that’s on Russia’s naughty moslem list attacking the Oregon college that the dancing with the stars French Jihad Train Hero goes to, with the Gay French Jihad Train hero stabbed by 4 vibants shortly after.
      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3265116/French-train-attack-hero-Spencer-Stone-STABBED-Sacramento.html
      http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=3633133

    3. It’s never a good idea to link to my blog from another site and admit that you intend to get banned. I see the trackbacks and check them out.

      There has been two other people who did the same thing, and both of them lived up to their word. I’m done playing that game.

      My next site to be banned from.

      Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy. I shall make it so. Bye.

    4. “I’m being honest here. If I was assigned to write The Amazing Spider-Man tomorrow, there is no way I would start taking strange shots at Hillary Clinton. Aren’t superheroes supposed to have bigger fish to fry? Why would I let Peter Parker get bogged down in some childish political vendetta against Mrs. Clinton? I’d feel like a loser if I did that to my favorite character.”

      Couldn’t have set it better myself Doug.

  6. I just realized how silly the hysteric fear and hatred of “white supremacists” is. There’s an organization dedicated to “the Advancement of Colored People.” Are they intending to “advance” them to just behind white people? Or would they advance them ahead (“supreme,” you could say) if they could? There’s an organization called “La Raza.” Are they intending to advance Mexicans to just behind whites? Or would they put them ahead if they could?

    Why is it so evil to want to advance the interests of one’s own group when everyone else can do it? Do these people ever complain about “Chinese supremacists” in China, where they openly use racial slurs about white and black people and don’t let non-Chinese become citizens?

    I also can’t help but note that they always have the illegal aliens helpless and non-violent. I doubt there’ll be a version where Cap fights armed “migrants” trying to force their way across a border like the gunfight that happened in Europe recently…

    1. I believe “La Raza” translates to “The Race.” I suppose if a white guy walked up to Nick Spencer and said he was joining a group called “The Race” — which seeks to take over large swathes of territory — then he would not be too comfortable with that.

      “So, yeah, I know that you guys turned entire deserts into bustling cities through a jaw-dropping combination of free market capitalism, science, and the principles of Western Civilization, but now that you built those cities we’re going to have to reclaim the land. Thanks much. La Raza (aka: The Race).”

  7. So in what sense is he “Captain America” if he prioritizes fighting Americans on behalf of non-Americans?

    Typical leftist crap; they hate the people who disagree with them, so they won’t even let fictional characters help them. What sense does it make for a guy whose whole deal is supposed to be that he represents the embodiment of the American ideal to take sides against half of America? What sense does it make for his heart to bleed for non-Americans far more than Americans? What possible right does he have to the mantle if he takes that view? I feel like this has utterly ruined Sam Wilson’s character; he’s just a whiny, self-involved SJW jerk now.

    Marvel has clearly gone full-blown SJW. That means their output can be safely ignored for at least several years until they either go bankrupt (again), Disney fires most of them, or they come to their senses (unlikely).

  8. I remember getting the issue of Captain America when he started cracking tea-partier skulls because they were “harboring domestic terrorists”.
    I immediately threw the issue in the garbage and cancelled my subscription. I cancelled all of the rest of my subscriptions shortly after for various reasons, but that issue started it all.

    Marvel is so petty, I immediately drew the connection between “Sons of the Serpant” and the Gadsden Flag, because that’s Marvel’s MO. Once again the enemy of America is the Tea Party I guess. How is this any different than the propaganda against Asian Americans during WW2? How many stories seem to return to “beware the enemy next door?” Xmen wants you to know that at any moment sensationalist Christians will burn down an entire town and slaughter its entire population to kill the one gay baby born there. Captain America wants you to know that your neighbor with the American flag on his porch might be building an IED because he’s a racist who hates Obama. Xmen says right wingers are stalking and assaulting gays in the streets of San Francisco. Now this… Again and again the enemy is always the same: the evil right winger next door. Would it surprise anyone if they started drawing conservatives with fangs?

    1. Xmen says right wingers are stalking and assaulting gays in the streets of San Francisco.

      I heard about that and couldn’t help but crack up. A

      gain, Marvel can’t have the X-Men go to, say, Syria and take on the Islamic State group as it throws gay people off tall buildings…because Muslims are only allowed to be good guys these days. But we can always find some white Christians to turn into bad guys. Pathetic.

  9. “Why I won’t buy Marvel Comics” Part… um, well, given the intolerance and immaturity of your average Marvel staffer these days, I’ve lost count of how many examples there have actually been. Barring a few rare occurrences, I haven’t bought a Marvel comic since the “One More Day” disaster. Garbage like this doesn’t make me regret that decision.

    “This country is as divided as it’s ever been” said the writer bashing people who disagree with him on an issue and working for a company that is so hyper-sensitive to dissenting viewpoints (from politics to complaints of quality) that they make whining three-year-olds look mature by comparison. Constant preaching on any issue under the sun, bad writing, and a complete lack of self-awareness? Oh yeah, the House of Ideas needs a serious overhaul.

    1. You beat me to it. I was going to say that Nick Spencer continues the Marvel tradition of writers who lack self-awareness. When a writer turns into an activist masquerading as a writer, it’s always a sad thing to witness.

    2. It reminds me of a saying I read in a review for an old comic: “A good story tells you about the characters. A bad story tells you about the writer.”

  10. When reading some of these comments, I’m seeing that the main complaint is that the author is pushing a specific political agenda on the readers. I’d like to play devil’s advocate for a moment.

    I’m not overly familiar with Captain America (I’m one of those people who never really got into comics — but in my defense, I love the original run of Ultimate Spider-Man — but is a big fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe), but isn’t talking about political stuff basically his thing? He is named “Captain America” for a reason, after all.

    I do know that the second Captain America movie is generally considered one of the best in the MCU series (I agree, but it did star my two favorite Avenger members, so I may be biased). Arguably one of the reasons that it well-liked because it takes a look at current political questions (in that case government surveillance and where the line should be drawn) and comments on it — or at least might make people to think about it while the credits role (even if you don’t agree with everything). In other words, it aspired to be more than just another popcorn movie.

    Generally, great fiction (and fiction that at least tries to be more than filler) usually is making a point about something or asking us to think about stuff, including current issues. “Star Trek” did that back in the ’60s. J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” has lots of stuff that reflected his Christian beliefs and opinions on the industrialization of the day. C.S. Lewis used fiction to discuss Christianity even further than Tolkien did.

    Now, if a favorite character of yours is being used as a spokesperson for a cause you disagree with, that’s always going to be galling. And illegal immigration is a hot button topic with no easy answer (if anyone knows how to balance the legal part of it while still showing mercy when appropriate, please write to your congresspersons!). So, fair enough if you didn’t like it. But shouldn’t comics be able to comment on stuff — even controversial stuff — and be more than just the Avengers stopping the alien invaders? More than that popcorn movie that has no more significance than: “Hey, look at the pretty explosions?” And when does this cross the line from being okay to shoving something in someone’s face?

    In other words, are the readers who were offended by this offended because of what Nick Spencer had to say, or because of the way he said it? (Based on what I’ve seen of it, I suspect that I’d probably be questioning a lot of stuff that Spencer has to say. Politically, I’m a moderate and tend to disagree with the extremes of the right and left-wingers.)

    1. Thanks for the comment, WebLurker. Hopefully I can better explain why Spencer’s story is so offensive.

      Take what the Russo brother’s did with Winter Solider, for example. They infused politics into the movie, but overall the ideological questions where so intellectually layered that people across the political spectrum could have an engaging debate.

      I have also mentioned Brian Michael Bendis’ “Secret War” from 2004 as another example of politics done right. He is a liberal guy, but I really enjoyed that book.

      It is very easy to see the writers who craft a story based on the premise that we’re dealing with complex issues, and those who essentially dehumanize their political opponents.

      I don’t expect a Captain America comic to be devoid of politics, but I do expect my worldview to be treated seriously. If I were to write Daredevil’s adventures, would I start writing about some “gay mafia” trying to kill Matt Murdock’s priest? No.

      The key to these stories is to have them be like an onion. Wow…here’s a layer…and another layer…and another layer. What Spencer is doing boils down to “Conservatives are evil. Their arguments have no validity. It’s all ‘hate speech.'”

      Well, no. That’s not true.

      Take immigration and Spencer’s stance on Trump. Now read my blog post: “Imagine if Donald Trump Read Francis de Sales: Man deported 5 times admits to Kate Steinle Murder.”

      Ask yourself: Who would do a better job crafting an immigration story for Captain America — Nick Spencer, or me? I’m not trying to be egotistical. I’m simply stating that I possess a level of self-awareness that Spencer (at this time) does not, which is needed to do the story justice. The universal ideals we all strive to reach transcend petty politics. That is what needs to resonate in a Captain America book — not “conservatives are serpentine.”

  11. The more things change, the more things stay the same. What is it with Marvel writers and likening conservatives to snakes? Do you remember Captain America #344. The “deadliest snake” of all was Ronald Reagan. Odd, given that his leadership brought the Soviet Union to its news.

    Captain America 344

  12. Yeah, I think the extra explanation helped a bit. Hope I wasn’t being confrontational, given that I don’t think I really disagree with you, based on what little I’ve seen of this story. (As I’ve alluded to, I don’t really follow comics but like the characters and am curious about what the editors and writers decide to do with them. So I’m kind of in this funny position where I’d like to join the conversation but can’t exactly say whether I though the comic was good or not. Hence, why I seem to mostly ask: “Why do you think your opinion?”)

    I’ve read several of your articles before, but I don’t specifically recall any references to your military career or not. It would be interesting to read some articles about your experiences in the army.

    Given that you were (at least initially) interested in Sam Wilson becoming the new Captain America in the comics, is that something you’d like to see happen in the MCU? I’ve gathered that the popular opinion is that Bucky Barnes should take over when Chris Evans is ready to hang up the shield, but I’d actually prefer if Falcon did it. I never really felt like Barnes became an interesting character in his own right. The only reason we cared about him was because Steve Rogers did. (It didn’t help that Barnes was supposedly Rogers closest friend, but, of the characters he is or becomes friends with over the movies — Barnes, Black Widow, and Falcon — their friendship really felt under-baked.

    Falcon, on the other hand, had enough backstory built into him that I think he could support his own movie (either in Captain America or Falcon personas) and was interesting right from his first scene. Also, since he’s shown to become an important friend and ally to Rogers in the present and is a member of the second-generation Avengers, the mantle passing over to him seems more logical.

    1. Confrontation is perfectly fine on this blog, although I’d much rather prefer that it is done in a tactful way. You passed with flying colors! The guy who said he planned to get banned on this blog while commenting on Vox’s website…not so much. 😉

      Strangely enough, I haven’t really shared a lot from my time in service. I wanted to combine everything I’ve written with stories by my buddy James called Peace Time Soldier, War Time Soldier, but I’m not sure how open he would be to it.

      Anyway, in terms of moving forward in the MCU, I’d be okay with Bucky or Sam taking on the role next. As you mentioned, the cinematic universe appears more geared towards Bucky taking over. Personally, I think a military thriller with War Machine and Falcon would be cool. Those guys would be great together.

    2. That back-issue post about boot camp was an interesting read. Hope you’re able to publish your writings someday in a shape or form you’re pleased with.

      We may have had a slight miscommunication over the Falcon/Winter Soldier question, since I actually thought that Sam Wilson seemed to be “more geared” to be the second MCU Captain America than Bucky Barnes. However, I suspect that you’re right that Bucky will probably be the one getting the shield. If so, I really hope that they develop the character more, since the main reason I prefer the idea of a MCU Sam Wilson Cap is that I find him to be the more interesting character. I don think there’s a good chance that Bucky will get his due based on the previous movies; Black Widow started out pretty flat in “Iron Man 2” before the “Avengers” and Winter Soldier” movies developed her character.

      I’ll second that War Machine/Falcon movie!

    3. I’d say not so much a miscommunication as perhaps some clumsy wording on my part. By “geared,” I meant that the writers have put together a creative trajectory that is more likely to wind up with Bucky getting the job than Sam — even if Sam is the more interesting character. Bucky will redeem himself for his years as the Winter Soldier, and as Civil War heats up he will warn everyone that the U.S. is turning into the old Soviet Union. He could then logically become Captain America to prevent that from happening.

  13. This almost makes me wonder what astounding levels of blatantly obvious hamfisted political dogma we’ll get out of the upcoming Black Panther book.

    Sorry I haven’t commented as of late. College is a cruel mistress. lol

    1. I saw some of Mr. Spencer’s tweets and almost did another blog post. He basically said that because Captain America has taken on environmental terrorists, any anger towards this storyline is misplaced.

      Doesn’t that say it all right there? Environmental terrorists. Europe is being flooded with millions of refugees from the Middle East who are fleeing Islamic terrorism and a civil war. It’s been 14 years since 9/11, and Captain America takes on environmental terrorists, the tea party, white racists, and illegal immigration opponents. Sigh.

  14. I’ve been meaning to check up this blog and comment about this!!! I was (WAS) SO HYPED for “Sam Wilson: Captain America #1”. I’ve been on board with Sam as the new Sentinel of Liberty since it was announced. (To give you some background on myself, I’m Republican turned Independent, but still very conservative leaning, which I gather you’ve surmised from our posts on here). I was SO let down by this comic. It’s going to become another Marvel venue I think for liberal policies and propaganda, along the same lines as turning Ice Man homosexual I think. I think this has great appeal if you’re liberal, but having Sam Wilson, take a political stand is such stab in the eye from Marvel. In a world where terrorism both foreign and domestic is taking place, to have Sam’s book used a vehicle to show that the country should be even more left / secular than it is now is incredibly irresponsible. Mark my words, in this election season, some lobbyist somewhere is a comic book collector who likes Captain American and this is the result of that. The Captain has always been a hero because he speaks for all of us, regardless of political affiliation or ideology. He’s NOT an agent of the left. You already know where this is going— most likely another Marvel book dropped by issue #2.

    1. The Captain has always been a hero because he speaks for all of us, regardless of political affiliation or ideology.

      That’s really the key point. Well said.

      As I’ve said before, I understand that certain hot-button issues will make it into the comics. That makes sense. In some instances, I welcome it. However, what I don’t like is that my worldview is treated a.) as a joke, or b.) as something evil.

      The universal ideals that were eloquently proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence and codified into law by the U.S. Constitution transcend petty politics. I may have disagreements with those on the opposite side of the political fence, but I take their worldview very seriously. There is a certain level of tact and grace that modern Marvel writers have completely thrown out the window when their write stories like this. It’s sad because it doesn’t have to be that way.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Carl. I was wondering how that would be handled. I may have to give that a review…

      Side note: I really don’t like Cap’s new costume. It reminds me of something from Marvel’s NFL Superpro.

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