Captain America Jack Flag

One of the reasons this blog began reviewing the comics industry years ago was because the mainstream “news” outlets almost always serve as a mouthpiece for whatever bilge the creators dish out. If there is one good thing to come out of Nick Spencer’s “Captain America: Nazi-sympathizing Hydra Agent,” it is that more people realize that allegedly impartial reporters are usually glorified toadies for men like Tom Brevoort.

Take a recent piece by Newsarama’s piece by George Marston:

“Reaction to the news has been mixed, with some, familiar with the ebb and flow of comic book storytelling intrigued by the twist, or resigned to wait it out and see its explanation, while others less familiar with comic book tropes decried the reveal as an outright betrayal of Captain America or even his creators.

According to Tom Brevoort, Marvel Executive Editor, an editor of Captain America: Steve Rogers #1, where the reveal took place, Marvel was somewhat surprised by the reaction to the twist, not expecting the level of vitriol some fans have levied at the publisher, and at Nick Spencer, writer of the issue and architect of its twist.”

Did you get that first paragraph? If you view Marvel’s decision as a grotesque betrayal of the character, then you must be **hurrrrrrm** “less familiar with comic book tropes.”

Tut. Tut. Now excuse me while I wipe my monocle, you rubes.

The message by Newsarama is clear: Only ignorant fools who don’t know comics oppose the latest “bold” idea by Marvel’s editors and writers. Nick Spencer could turn Captain America into a serial killer and there would be guys like George Marston calling it “bold” at this point.

George Marston Newsarama Twitter

One would think that Mr. Brevoort’s “surprise” at the negative reaction to Mr. Spencer’s story would be challenged, considering it was the Marvel editor who told USA Today he knew it would be like slapping fans in the face.

“‘We knew it would be like slapping people in the face,’ says Brevoort. […] “The idea of Captain America means something very primal and very strong to the people of this nation, and they have a very visceral reaction when you get to something like that. You want people to feel and react to your story. So far, so good.”

Even though Mr. Marston covered the “slap” comment in his own column, there was no push-back against Tom Brevoort. The Marvel editor explicitly said a decision was made to “slap” readers in the face, and then he is “surprised” when people are angry. Newsarama’s decision is to then label critics as “less familiar with comic book tropes.” Classic.

Perhaps the most laughable moment in Newsarama’s interview with Mr. Brevoort comes when he tries (and fails) to say that equating Hydra-Cap to a Nazi is out of bounds.

“There’s a subset of people who are upset about this, who are exactly like that. The reporting on this, and the sort of game of telephone on the internet about this went from it being ‘Captain America is Hydra,’ to ‘Captain America is a Nazi’ – which is already a leap – to ‘This is anti-semitism,’ which is ridiculous, in that, if you look at the comic book that we put out, there is nothing in it that, in any way, shape, or form, is even slightly anti-semitic. But because people were able to go ‘Hydra = Nazi, and Nazi = anti-semitism,’ that’s what reactions became about.

By reporting that we revealed ‘Captain America is a Nazi and anti-semitic,’ people that haven’t even read the work react with outrage, because they understand who Captain America is, even if they’ve never read a comic book.”

Hyrda’s history is well established in the comics, the MCU, and television. The reason why Mr. Brevoort said the story would be a “slap” in the face to fans is because he knew people would put two and two together. Now that the story has amazingly unified readers across the political spectrum, he wants to feign ignorance.

Cap a Nazi sympathizer? Where would you get that idea? Who told you 2+2 = 4? It’s five.

If you want honest reporting on comic books, then websites Newsarama are typically not the place to go. The vast majority of the time their writers and editors are only interested in keeping the access-spigot flowing. They cannot bite the hand that feeds, but they will gladly give men like Tom Brevoort a thumb to suck every time he runs to them crying.

Withhold your cash when it comes to Captain America until Marvel learns its lesson. If you want to reward the company for good work, then purchase Charles Soule’s Daredevil. Just be aware that one day a writer will come up with the idea that Matt Murdock has never been blind and was working for Kingpin all along — and reporters like George Marston will be ready and waiting to insult you for showing displeasure.

Editor’s Note: Henchmen’s Lounge was kind enough to invite me onto a podcast to discuss Captain America. We begin talking about Hydra-Cap at the 18-minute mark.

 

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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.

21 comments

  1. “Did you get that first paragraph? If you view Marvel’s decision as a grotesque betrayal of the character, then you must be **hurrrrrrm** ‘less familiar with comic book tropes.'”

    Dang, I’ve been reading comics since 1992, and I’ve apparently been “less than familiar with comic book tropes.” I wonder if Marvel will offer me a refund then.

    “Perhaps the most laughable moment in Newsarama’s interview with Mr. Brevoort comes when he tries (and fails) to say that equating Hydra-Cap to a Nazi is out of bounds”

    Marvel’s comics, shows, and movies have been equating Hydra to the Nazis for years–even using them as stand-ins due to some loopy censorship rules. Man, Marvel must have gotten hit with a lot of “this story is a disservice to the Jewish creators of Captain America” complaints for Brevoort to pull this defense. It’s pathetic. It makes his defense of “One More Day” look like a masterful dance of wit and cunning.

    “Withhold your cash when it comes to Captain America until Marvel learns its lesson.”

    Well, I was doing that before this story came out, but it certainly reinforces my resolve. I have plenty of quality comics in my collection to fall back on.

    1. “Dang, I’ve been reading comics since 1992, and I’ve apparently been ‘less than familiar with comic book tropes.’ I wonder if Marvel will offer me a refund then.”

      I wonder if George Marston offered to give Tom Brevoort a back massage after that interview. Or perhaps he was massaging Tom Brevoort while he was giving the interview. Heh. “I got a kink in my neck, Georgie. Can you get it out for me while I answer your next softball question? Right there! That’s the spot. Yep. Thanks. You’re the best, Georgie.”

      “Marvel’s comics, shows, and movies have been equating Hydra to the Nazis for years–even using them as stand-ins due to some loopy censorship rules. Man, Marvel must have gotten hit with a lot of ‘this story is a disservice to the Jewish creators of Captain America’ complaints for Brevoort to pull this defense. It’s pathetic. It makes his defense of ‘One More Day’ look like a masterful dance of wit and cunning.”

      Instead of Baghdad Bob we can start calling him “Baghdad Tom” or “Baghdad Brevoort.” 🙂

  2. This is another example of how the comics media is in Marvel and DC’s back pockets. They won’t criticize them on issues like this, but they’ll run clickbait articles about the “lack of diversity” or go after writers because they said something that wasn’t deemed politically correct by the Tumblr crowd. It’s just pathetic. They can’t criticize them, or otherwise their access to the creators will go away. Hence the reason why they always come to the writer’s (in this case, Nick Spencer’s) defense.

    I know that if I were a comics reporter, I wouldn’t be afraid to call out Marvel and DC if they need to be called out. I refuse to kiss anyone’s rear. These reporters at sites like Newsarama are kind of like a high school kid who will compromise his or her values just so they can become one of the so-called “cool kids.” Luckily for me, I’ve never had any desire to be one of the cool kids.

  3. “This is another example of how the comics media is in Marvel and DC’s back pockets. They won’t criticize them on issues like this, but they’ll run clickbait articles about the “lack of diversity” or go after writers because they said something that wasn’t deemed politically correct by the Tumblr crowd.”

    On top of that, remember that they consider comics fans to be little more than children needing firm discipline and a stern talking-to by their “betters.” You see this most when a comic is censored.

    Hydra-Cap is more of this “stern talking-to,” stating that “this is what it is, take it or leave it.” It takes the affection the fans have for these characters and tries to turn it into “power,” even if the power is just “the fans can’t do anything about it.” It comes off like bullying.

    1. “Hydra-Cap is more of this ‘stern talking-to,’ stating that ‘this is what it is, take it or leave it.’ It takes the affection the fans have for these characters and tries to turn it into ‘power,’ even if the power is just ‘the fans can’t do anything about it.’ It comes off like bullying.”

      That’s a good way to put it. The writers seem to think of the character as theirs when that isn’t the case. They fail to realize that a character like Captain America is bigger than them. He’s an iconic American image at this point. The people in charge of Peter “with great power comes great responsibility” Parker are totally rampant and irresponsible when it comes to their biggest properties. They have no shame. It’s embarrassing and downright sad.

  4. Yes, Marvel tries to spin Hydra as something less than Nazi. Any fool knows from watching the movies and from the Agents of Shield show that Hydra was founded by a Nazi. That’s also Marvel canon, which is where they got it. Hydra is and always has been a trope for Nazism. Now suddenly it’s not Nazi and those who are calling out Marvel for transforming Cap into a Nazi are a bunch of fools. Right!

    1. “Hydra is and always has been a trope for Nazism. Now suddenly it’s not Nazi and those who are calling out Marvel for transforming Cap into a Nazi are a bunch of fools. Right!”

      Tom Brevoort is wishing he had his own Cosmic Cube right about now since no amount of spin is going to erase this stupid decision.

    2. One of the oddest things about this controversy is precisely how Marvel and many comic pundits are denying any connection metaphorically between Hydra and the Nazis. In Marvel, wasn’t it Strucker and the Red Skull, both Nazis, who founded Hydra? In the first Captain America movie, wasn’t the founder of Hydra a Nazi? Wasn’t the idea something like Hydra was going to out-Nazi the Nazis? Isn’t the founder of Hydra in the Marvel Agents of Shield TV show a Nazi? Until this controversy, I believe it seemed rather obvious to most readers and viewers that Hydra was a fictional substitute for the Nazis. Now suddenly there is no metaphorical connection there, and those who think so are misinformed. Am I missing something here? In this era of textual polyvalence and reader-response hermeneutics, isn’t this at the very least one plausible construal of the metaphorical meaning of Hydra? To those now vehemently denying it I can only say, “Come on!”

      Another point I found odd is that some are complaining that fans are complaining about this change in Captain America. Let’s see how the story develops is the response. There’s even talk of the negative consequences to the creative process caused by “fan entitlement,” which I take to mean something like fans feeling they have some rights or claims over what creators do with their favorite fictional characters and concepts. This criticism strikes me as off mark for two reasons. Comics are entertainment purchased with disposable income. If I buy food, a car, furniture, a house, or anything else that I require to live, am I not entitled to criticize those purchases that fail to live up to my expectations? How much more so something I buy with disposable income? And why see how the story develops? If you object strongly to the premise, why abet the company and writer by spending your funds on the book? Second, what generates this very sense of “entitlement,” that is, fans’ ardent devotion to creators’ fictional characters and concepts, is what creators desire or can only hope for, because it is that which impels people to keep buying their fictional wares.

      Many are justly shocked and angry over some accusing Marvel of anti-Semitism for Spencer’s retcon of Captain America. I agree fully that fans’ extreme responses of anger, even supposedly threats of violence, are contemptible and absurd. Captain America is a fictional character. (Still, fiction is very powerful; it’s foolish to underestimate its influence. Entertainment shapes our perception of moral, social, and political issues. Unfortunately, today entertainment may be in fact the primary vehicle for determining people’s perceptions of these issues.) Marvel has expressed dismay and outrage at these accusations. I have to agree with Marvel here. However, it’s too bad Marvel doesn’t follow its own advice. Haven’t Marvel writers and editors rolled out the “racist,” “sexist,” and various “phobic” epithets whenever readers disagree with some of their creative decisions? And as you’ve shown, Doug, it was Spencer himself who recently declared people with whom he disagrees, many of which purchase his books, as all hateful and lacking in good — without apparently any negative consequences from Marvel, his employer.

      I buy quite a few Marvel books. My response is simple. I’m talking with my funds. I’m not buying Spencer’s Captain America book, one of my favorite characters. I’m also cutting other Marvel books from my list. I think you, Doug, will buy the book, because you need to comment on it here. I’ll look forward to what you have to say.

    3. “If you object strongly to the premise, why abet the company and writer by spending your funds on the book?”

      Exactly. What Tom Brevoort is saying with the Captain America story, for all intents and purposes, is that its okay to defile any character if it will sell books or grab headlines. Marvel now has no shame — and he’s okay with that.

      “I buy quite a few Marvel books. My response is simple. I’m talking with my funds. I’m not buying Spencer’s Captain America book, one of my favorite characters. I’m also cutting other Marvel books from my list. I think you, Doug, will buy the book, because you need to comment on it here. I’ll look forward to what you have to say.”

      I will continue buying books like ASM, Daredevil, and Iron Man, but I don’t think I will regularly buy Spencer’s Captain America. If I hear that something extremely noteworthy happens, then I may make an exception … but for the most part I’ll probably just keep tabs on it by talking to the guy who runs my local comic shop, other fans, etc.

    4. I certainly understand your decision not to buy the book, Doug.

      I noted that there is a petition on change.org, “Get Marvel to Stop Hydra Captain America.” For those interested, here’s the link:

      https://www.change.org/p/marvel-get-marvel-to-stop-hydra-captain-america?recruiter=548668250

      There’s something like 9500 who have signed it so far. Though it almost certainly will not influence Marvel’s decision, I suppose it can’t hurt either. In the end, what will persuade Marvel is finances, period. If the book doesn’t sell, they’ll eventually make a change. People need to talk with their funds.

      I hope it’s okay to post the link. I wasn’t sure.

    5. “I hope it’s okay to post the link. I wasn’t sure.”

      If it’s related to Hydra Captain America, then it’s fine by me to share.

      There have been readers in the past who would use this post to start talking about something totally unrelated. One guy in particular would have probably shared a link on transgender bathroom controversies and it would have annoyed me…but he’s still serving out a 1-year ban. It’s been nice to not have to deal with that for a long time. 😉

    6. Doug, ha, yes. I see your point. The link definitely relates to Captain Hydra … I mean, Marvel’s All-New Captain Nazi … I mean, Hydra American … I mean … forget it.

      It relates to the issue at hand …

  5. “They fail to realize that a character like Captain America is bigger than them. He’s an iconic American image at this point.”

    Quite the contrary; they do realize his iconic status. That’s why they trash him.

    Remember that they consider many of America’s cultural icons to be bigoted and hateful. They want much of Americana torn down and replaced with objects of their choosing – and if you don’t worship on command, you’re punished.

    1. “Quite the contrary; they do realize his iconic status. That’s why they trash him.”

      That is a good point, and when it comes to most cherished traditions/images I would agree with you. I think with Captain America it might be a strange mix of creative selfishness and obviously a giant window into what Nick Spencer really believes about America.

      What stinks about all this is that Marvel has created a weird racial dynamic. If you say Steve Rogers should regain the mantle of Captain America over Sam Wilson, then it sets them up to say, “You’d rather have a Nazi-sympathizing Hydra agent as Captain America than the black guy who earned the job.” In reality, I just never saw Falcon as a permanent Captain America because I see him as … Falcon.

      If Steve isn’t around, then I have zero problem with him carrying the shield. When Steve is back, I think it’s weird for him to not revert back to Falcon. In some way it seems like they’re setting Steve up to irreparably sully his image so that it will be easier to push him to the side.

      Whether Captain America is under some form of mind control or not, he killed Jack Flag. He threw an innocent man out of a plane at about 10,000 feet. That scene turned my stomach.

  6. “I think with Captain America it might be a strange mix of creative selfishness and obviously a giant window into what Nick Spencer really believes about America.”

    I agree; doing this to Rogers shows you what those writers really think of America — not only the America of today, but the one that won World War II, the one spoken of only with contempt by our cultural elites today. What they’re saying with Hydra-Cap is that the USA of the 1940s was little better than Nazi Germany.

    “What stinks about all this is that Marvel has set up a weird racial dynamic.”

    Keep in mind that they consider most, if not all, white male heroes to be either racist or unsuited for the modern day. I think it has moved well beyond wanting something different to outright contempt. Sickening.

  7. Wow. It’s like an evil Genie let out of the bottle.

    Of course this will be pulled back eventually. the purpose of this garbage is really to ‘draw out’ the fans they don’t want and expose them as idiots. That Tom is ‘premature’ and clumsy is just a stupid uncle problem. This is a crappy story idea and Marvel is creatively bankrupt. That they’ve turned the house of ideas into the house of pandering and exposing the ‘wrong’ kinds of fans is just sad.

    Some business are not businesses…they are crusades for an idiot or group of idiots that have no problem running the ship aground if they can score a few points and plant their obvious hate in the ground as a flag.

    I could almost see Chuck Dixon chuckling ironically to himself as the Marvel bigwigs cheered Nick Spencer’s sense of politics. When Chuck dared to even open his mouth about things he never let into his comics, the liberal comic world almost had a heart attack. I wonder how many others are quietly forced to shut up as Nick just hands down his worldview to cheers in even their personal lives.

    What a terrible place to work that must be, where a shadow of political correctness probably threatens your livelihood and the medium that you love, because the men who run it are so full of hate and so closed minded that there’s a good chance you will lose your job if you don’t say the right things on your twitter of facebook. Even your silence could be used against you. What a terrible, oppressive place, and very likely they would mock that sentiment in the most ironic manner possible.

    I’m not a big Captain America fan. I like the movies, but, you know me, I like my heroes a little broken, a little flawed, it’s just how I see real heroes, we dig deep and we will find something wrong with any hero, and we should honor them anyway warts and all. Still I feel for his fans.

    Nick Spencer is a man who thinks of politics all the time, he doesn’t think of some fantastic plot line or story idea to excite his fans or bring justice to evil men. When he gets ready to write a Cap story, he’s thinking of that portion of his fandom that he despises with all his heart and wishes to bring pain to them in his own way, even if it’s temporary. It is a pathetic, honorless and hateful way to treat Cap’s fans…and really to live your life. I’ll spare some pity for the man…he’s earned it.

    1. “Doug, thank god for alternative sites like this. If there weren’t any sites like this, then they could spin this idea with no opposition.”

      Thanks, Goldeneye. The cool thing about WordPress is that I can often see exactly where readers are coming from if the story is linked elsewhere. It’s always cool to see that the message is getting out — and that people of all political persuasions are getting annoyed with Marvel’s antics.

    2. The reason why people are getting annoyed is because they have no grace or class when they do stuff like this.

      The mistakes that Marvel makes now are dumb mistakes. However, It’s not the kind of dumb that’s funny, it’s the kind of dumb that’s just sad and leaves you a state of slight apathy.

  8. The comics media disgusts me. They are nothing more than enablers. Don’t they see the comics industry sales are pathetic compared to days gone by? Don’t they see that companies like Marvel are creatively bankrupt? How does letting Marvel and DC do whatever the hell they want without reproach help the industry?

    I find myself constantly wondering if anyone cares about the future at all in America.

  9. I couldn’t be more disgusted with this “twist.” Yes, I’m fully cognizant of the fact that it’s just an attempt to create shock, which in turn increases traffic for the comic. But the problem with that hypothesis is that the cliche “there is no such thing as bad publicity” is wrong on so many levels. For instance, and bear with me, because there a reason for this, despite your political stances, you have to admit both Clinton and Trump have been getting some rather bad press, for different reasons. Last I checked, news was publicity. And with Trump saying one stupid thing after another, and Clinton’s email fiasco going on, the black eyes are going to continue. Brevoort and Spencer are really going to be getting some black eyes from this debacle, and deservedly so. By making Captain America a HYDRA sympathizer, if not outright member, you make him a terrorist supporter. That’s the best case scenario. At worst, it’d be treason, as explicitly laid out in the Constitution. And they think this is “interesting?” This brazen character assassination? That right there speaks volumes.

    Also, the very concept is horrifically anti-Semitic, and you don’t have to be Jewish to see it. And it is beyond the pale for Brevoort to take umbrage and try to say otherwise. There are some things that are simply indefensible. This comic is one of them, and frankly, it seriously makes me question the loyalties of Spencer and Brevoort. By taking a steaming dump on the character of someone who stands for American ideals, (or rather is supposed to stand for American ideals,) i.e. you can pursue your dream no matter the skin, economic status, or birth place, it shows that you scorn those values. So I openly question their loyalty.

    Yes, you read that right. I am outright questioning Brevoort and Spencer’s loyalty to this nation, and would say so to them. They seem to have more in common with ISIS than America. Is this reactionary? Absolutely, and I won’t deny it. But given what they’re doing, I think these concerns have some merit. Big problems usually start off as small problems which are allowed to fester. That observation is proven by Marvel’s actions, and the attitude shown by Brevoort and Spencer. But rather than hurl death threats at the morally void nitwits, I’ll just let Marvel know of my disgust by never picking up another Captain America comic until this is resolved. Perhaps not even then. This is even worse than One More Day.

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