Red Skull Kobik

It was one month ago that Marvel executive editor Tom Brevoort and writer Nick Spencer asserted to the world that Captain America’s “Hail Hydra” moment was “not a gimmick.”  Sure, they responded to outrage by trying to Jedi mind-trick readers into forgetting the whole Nazi aspect of Hydra, Red Skull, and his crew, but the message was clear: Hydra-Cap wasn’t a shameless cash grab. Captain America: Steve Rogers #2, however, makes it clear that Mr. Brevoort has no qualms about lying if it will line Marvel’s pockets with short-term cash.

Here is what you need to know about the issue:

  • Kobik, the sentient Cosmic Cube, sought out Red Skull the moment she manifested in S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters years ago.
  • Dr. Selvig and S.H.I.E.L.D. never knew that Kobik was being raised by Red Skull, who led her to believe the most ideal world would be one run by Hydra. The doctor’s mind was altered before his initial suspicions were confirmed.
  • Red Skull used Pleasant Hill, an super villain prison created by Kobik, as bait for Captain America.
  • Everything that transpired at the reality-altering facility was orchestrated so that Kobik would implant a false past — a Hydra-inspired past — into Steve Roger’s mind.

Most readers, your friendly neighborhood blogger included, assumed things would eventually be put right after “Cosmic-Cube weirdness” was revealed. We knew what Marvel was doing, but a.) objected to story as a matter of principle — writers should not desecrate a hero for mere shock value, and b.) deemed the length of time it was implied that Hydra-Cap would be working for the terrorist organization as a betrayal of the character.

Blind supporters of Messrs. Brevoort and Spencer made it seem like critics were hyper-impatient, when it was Marvel that created the perception that bread crumbs would be dropped over the course of months.

“I thought we wouldn’t know this much for at least five or six months,” the manager at my local comic shop said when I asked him what he thought about the issue. We both wondered if the timeline was accelerated due to fan backlash, but the owner said he was confident that was not the case.

All of this begs the question: Why?

Why would Marvel expend so much time and effort lying to its fans for a short-term sales boost?

Red Skull Selvig

That answer appears to be two-fold:

  1. The people running the show have no shame. Ironically, the writer who rails against Donald Trump now subscribes to the same “all publicity is good publicity” philosophy that has been perfected by the billionaire.
  2. Marvel Comics, which is currently populated by a slew of petulant man-boys, wanted to steal headlines from DC Comics’ Rebirth.

A rising tide lifts all boats, but guys like Tom Brevoort are working overtime to needlessly torpedo ships that sail the same ocean.

If that is the kind of behavior you want to reward, then head on over to your local comic shop as soon as possible. Otherwise, save the $4.00 for a day when the “House of Ideas” once again has significant floor space dedicated to respecting long-time readers.

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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.

16 comments

  1. “We both wondered if the timeline was accelerated due to fan backlash, but the owner said he was confident that was not the case.”

    Honestly, I think it was the case. I mean, it’s not like it hasn’t happened before. Back in the mid-90s, Marvel was ready to reverse making Ben Reilly the real Spider-Man after only a few issues after he claimed the mantle. And while I can buy an editor lying to would-be buyers, the company responded to criticism of Hydra-Cap like they did with She-Thor, Superior Spider-Man, “One More Day,” and their other loopy changes: “This is permanent, so get used to it and shut up!” And you had morons like Slott closing ranks to defend Spencer. It was their same usual pattern, but I think they were caught off guard by how intense it was and got spooked.

    “Ironically, the writer who rails against Donald Trump now subscribes to the same “all publicity is good publicity” philosophy that has been perfected by the billionaire.”

    Kinda reminds me what I heard about the Ghostbusters reboot last week. With all the bad buzz, one of the studio executives tried to save face by saying “Those woman-hating trolls are the best advertisement we could ask for.” That’s just gonna blow up in their faces.

    1. “Honestly, I think it was the case. […] The company responded to criticism of Hydra-Cap like they did with She-Thor, Superior Spider-Man, ‘One More Day,’ and their other loopy changes: ‘This is permanent, so get used to it and shut up!’ And you had morons like Slott closing ranks to defend Spencer. It was their same usual pattern, but I think they were caught off guard by how intense it was and got spooked.”

      It certainly is mighty strange that it was all revealed in the second issue. The owner’s point was that this issue came out on time when so many of Marvel’s other books are behind schedule… That might be true, but fan backlash can certainly change the allocation of resources in a hurry.

      “Kinda reminds me what I heard about the Ghostbusters reboot last week. With all the bad buzz, one of the studio executives tried to save face by saying ‘Those woman-hating trolls are the best advertisement we could ask for.’ That’s just gonna blow up in their faces.”

      I guess I’m a sexist now because I think the Ghostbuster’s “Fall Out Boy” promotional song is atrocious — even though I readily admit to liking “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)” as a guilty pleasure. It’s so bad to me that it’s kind of good. Heh.

    1. “So Red Skull doesn’t really want to make American great again?”

      I can’t say that I’ll be reading Captain America: Steve Rogers from now until the election, but I would be surprised if additional allusions to Trump are not included in the book before then.

    2. “I have to admit, the last issue was one of the best examples of ‘Strawman has a point’ since ‘Papers Please'”

      Yeah, and Mr. Spencer’s Twitter feed explains why. This is a guy who tried to make the case that accepting millions of migrants from the Middle East and North Africa was the only way to avoid falling into an ISIS trap. Small German towns of 100 had to accept 750 refugees, and if they didn’t then I guess they were just “Islamophobic.” Whatever you say, Nick.

  2. It’s the same tactic Superior Spider-Man had…we, the reader, are informed of what’s going on, and as such Marvel believe we will now get even more frustrated at the stupidity of everyone in the book as they can’t just come to logical conclusions, based off their history of dealing with this sort of thing for ages in previous stories, that something is up. We are the pantomime audience who are meant to say “he’s behind you” while the main players feign plot-dependent ignorance.

    1. “It’s the same tactic Superior Spider-Man had…we, the reader, are informed of what’s going on, and as such Marvel believe we will now get even more frustrated at the stupidity of everyone in the book as they can’t just come to logical conclusions, based off their history of dealing with this sort of thing for ages in previous stories, that something is up.”

      That may be the case, but I doubt it will be as glaringly bad as ASM.

      I still like how the heroes (including Cap) brought in heroes to run tests on Spider-Man…but neglected to use a telepath.

      Dan Slott’s Captain America wanted to arrest Cardiac for ignoring Obamacare regulations, but just sort of shrugged his shoulders when the “Superior Spider-Man” blew a guy’s face off on live television.

  3. I would be surprised if they changed issue 2 due to backlash due to the time restraint, with that said if things get too hot you can ramp anything up to get it done. I do feel that Marvel pushed this gimmick to get attention from DC Rebirth, which is a good business move. The way they handled the response was the usual Marvel PR nightmare. Nick Spencer has not done anything to help the situation with his online twitter remarks to people asking good questions. I won’t say Marvel workers lied, but I will say they were far from honest as well about this. I read issue 1, I might read issue 2 if I can borrow it as well. I have not been buying their books since I don’t want to support certain behaviors. If Marvel wakes up and makes things better I would be happy to support them, but I can’t support a company that allows the people they employ to act the way they do, and to write things that are pure political garbage in poorly written stories. It really saddens me since I really think Nick Spencer can write a great story if he would just stop letting his personal views dictate his writing.

    1. “I would be surprised if they changed issue 2 due to backlash due to the time restraint, with that said if things get too hot you can ramp anything up to get it done.”

      Mundane Matt has weighed in and he thinks it they moved up the reveal to salvage the story. I think a convincing case can be made that he’s right. I can go either way, but the issue reads like one they could have literally plopped in the schedule at any point in time. It’s a flashback issue that reveals everything, so it could have been published this month or six months from now and it would not have affected the story either way.

      **language warning** I like Matt’s content, but I do think he goes overboard with the “f***s.” They’re totally unnecessary.

    2. “I like Matt’s content, but I do think he goes overboard with the “f***s.” They’re totally unnecessary.”

      Then you’ll like my book, Doug. The word “f***” is nowhere to be found. The strongest profanity in there is “hell” and damn.”

    3. “Then you’ll like my book, Doug. The word “f***” is nowhere to be found. The strongest profanity in there is “hell” and damn.”

      I’m looking forward to reading it, Carl. I have struggled with language in the book I’m using as well. Sometimes it’s tough because you have to ask, “Who is this character? What would he really say in this situation?”

      The editing process has resulted in a lot of changes as it pertains to the harsher language.

    4. “I’m looking forward to reading it, Carl. I have struggled with language in the book I’m using as well. Sometimes it’s tough because you have to ask, “Who is this character? What would he really say in this situation?”

      I just finished typing it last night. Initially I was going to have strong language in the book, but while I was writing the first draft, I thought, “is it really necessary to have them saying f**k over and over again?” My parents didn’t swear around me growing up, and the first time I heard swearing was on the school playground, but overall it wasn’t how I was raised. I suppose this would make any publisher categorize it as Young Adult fiction, even though the main character is twenty.

      I also don’t have any sex scenes (like *cough George R.R. Martin *cough* does in his overrated “Game of Thrones” books), because I don’t feel they’re necessary. I do the old method of cutting away before it happens. Tom Clancy tried to write one such scene in “The Bear and the Dragon…” and it was horrific.

  4. Marvel must think we’re morons.

    Just a thought, but I wonder if they actually were planning to make it permanent, but then backed off when they realized how much backlash had accumulated as a result with it.

    In fact, I’m kind of disappointed by this reversal, as I wanted to see just how stupid he could make it.

    1. “Just a thought, but I wonder if they actually were planning to make it permanent, but then backed off when they realized how much backlash had accumulated as a result with it.”

      Perfect timing, GoldenEye. I just shared Mundane Matt’s video on that question in my response to Truth.

      Matt says Marvel backtracked and I think a very strong case can be made that he is correct.

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