Marvel’s next big event, Secret Empire, has arrived with issue #0. For those who wondered over the last year if writer Nick Spencer could craft an interesting Hydra-Cap tale, the answer appears to be “yes.”

The problem, however, is that once again a hero’s legacy is offered for sacrifice at the alter of postmodernism.

Just because a man could do something, it doesn’t mean that he should. While I must admit that Mr. Spencer is an intelligent and organized writer, at the same time he is rightly being criticized by fans who are disgusted with the idea of turning a cultural icon into a tool of Nazi Germany. No matter how much Marvel protests the Nazi-angle, there really is no denying it.

There’s much more to say on the topic, but for a full run-down I invite you to check out my latest YouTube video. As always, feel free to sound off with your thoughts in the comments section below.

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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.

15 comments

  1. My friend owns the comic shop I go to, and he gave me a plot summary for this knowing I wasn’t going to buy it. I was mistaken when I thought the X-Men Gold #1 disaster was the chickens coming home to roost for Marvel, this is.

    I honestly don’t see a way for Marvel to come back from this, short of a hard reboot of all their characters. Even if Cap goes back to being a hero, that is reality warped Cap. The real Cap deep down inside was just a Nazi spy. When Ed Brubaker wrote the amazing Winter Soldier story, he only had the cube undo the programming the Soviets put into Buckey as an adult. This is just too far.

    I’m glad Disney is taking away all-ages comics from Marvel and farming them out. The sooner Marvel dies because the new readers are reading other publishers work the better. Than maybe Disney can wipe the slate and do what Valiant is doing and rebuild the line from the ground up, and since I love Heroes Reborn I’m all for it. Just no exhaust pipes on Iron Man’s armor.

  2. Arguing in youtube comments is exhausting. Correlation isn’t causation? duh…correlation is all that is required. I don’t care ‘why’ Nick decided to make secret empire, just that this is what you get with a mind like his.

    And the definition of Nihilism…from…wikipedia?! I hate it, you have to deal with so much correcting that by the time you rebutt…your at 5 paragraphs. So I decided hell with it, but looks like you pretty much made all the point that needs to be made with your solid understanding of the philosophical underpinnings of the ideology and Jordan Peterson. It’s not anything new, it’s a recurring debate and discussion for all the long history of ideological discussions about liberalism and conservatism and various other -isms.

    My youngest son is sick…I have better things to do. Anyway, even many liberals acknowledge that liberalism is nihilism, from it’s classic definition..I guess we can alter wikipedia to fix that lol. People just want to be ignorant.

    Anyway great send up.

    It’s a little frustrating for me. Listening to Sargon the other day, he blathered on and on about being a liberal trying to fix liberalism, and it makes me laugh because once you make statements about defending western civilization and institutions…well…guess what side you’re on. but keep fooling yourself so you don’t lose subs and friends, Sargon…I guess as long as they say the right things…LOL…which I think was that guy on youtube’s problem.

    1. The modern understanding of the meanings of words has gotten to the point no one can understand anything anyone says anymore.

      Political ideology has gotten so messed up no one knows what they are, because they don’t even really know what political ideologies belong to their proper identifying words. So many people flee from the word conservative because democrats did an amazing job through the 80’s and 90’s smearing that word and by labeling themselves “liberal”. Most people don’t even know the opposite of liberal is not conservative but authoritarian. So they have no idea it is possible to be both liberal and conservative, and to be progressive and authoritarian.

      As for Spencer, I don’t know him, nor his ideologies, but I can’t imagine it was just happenstance that he chose to make the symbol of America be secretly evil all along.

    2. “The modern understanding of the meanings of words has gotten to the point no one can understand anything anyone says anymore. Political ideology has gotten so messed up no one knows what they are, because they don’t even really know what political ideologies belong to their proper identifying words.”

      Agreed. I’ve said for years that this muddling of language is done purposefully by activists and politicos as a sort of divide-and-conquer strategy. If we can’t have a debate that utilizes logic and reason, then we’re left with pure emotions…and those are easily manipulated. Sigh.

  3. In the end, Captain America has become a character I cannot recognize any more. Not from his original concept as created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Not as Lee and Kirby revived him during the 1960s, And certainly not as subsequent writers like J.M. DeMatteis and Ed Brubaker made him in the decades since then.

    Things like this, I suppose, are to be expected from a company that treats its properties like a cash cow and hands them off to whomever the present management wants to, regardless of how those editors and writers will end up warping them to fit whatever agenda they have in mind. Frankly, I no longer really care, outside of not wanting a young nephew to be reading this on account of the oozing moral relativism and nihilism. I will suggest to him the classics that I grew up with, and there he will find the real Captain America.

    1. “Frankly, I no longer really care, outside of not wanting a young nephew to be reading this on account of the oozing moral relativism and nihilism. I will suggest to him the classics that I grew up with, and there he will find the real Captain America.”

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, cjbernardode. Indeed, it bothers me that so many young kids that I see on YouTube have spent their entire lives digesting a steady diet of moral relativism. It’s natural to them. I thanked a kid for commenting the other day and he thought it was strange. I told him that his time was valuable and that I appreciate any new viewer/reader who would give me some of it. It’s like common decency is foreign to them. When they experience it they don’t know how to react.

  4. “I’m glad Disney is taking away all-ages comics from Marvel and farming them out.”

    Heard something like that related to “Star Wars”: apparently LucasFilm and IDW are planning to publish a line of all-ages comics set in that Galaxy Far, Far Away this fall. Details remain to be seen, but the ads and whatnot show characters from the three trilogies, so probably stuff connected directly to the movies. I’m onboard for more comics in this franchise (although between this, the Marvel “Star Wars” trades, and the occasional book, novel, and BluRay, my “Star Wars” habit is starting to get a little spendy).

    Just thinking out loud, but is it possible that the “Secret Empire” comic is reflecting society to some extent? Cynicism and mistrust of authority seem to be pretty common these days, esp. in politics. Not saying it’s the only reason that Spenser wrote the story, but it seems like Captain America has historically been used to comment on present events and culture (like having the character reject the “Captain America” mantle in favor of a different one after Watergate, for example).

    As an outside observer, I never liked the idea of HYDRACap in the first place, but I kind of wonder if this, in some ways, is the ultimate expression of the idea that superheroes are the modern myth. With classical mythology, it’s retold time and again. Oftentimes, it’s just superficial variations of the core idea, but today we often use is as the springboard for new stories. With that, you get the source material changed up in new ways, characters and events are drastically changed for the sake of deconstruction, humor, experimentation, to explore themes outside of the original narrative, to use the myths of the past to examine the present, whatever have you. Sounds a little like all the changeups Marvel has been doing as of late.

    Not saying that HYDRACap can be justified or not, but it’s interesting to think about.

  5. To me, Captain America represents an ideal, what we strive to be. Cap can have flaws, a crisis of conscience or be forced to make impossible decisions at a cost, but it was always in the service of good- of Justice. Not social justice with its contradictions or moral relativism, but true Justice where everyone is equal in his eyes and is as deserving of saving as they are of just punishment. And Captain America has been that rock, that unfaltering man, the hero, the ideal that we aspired to be.

    By creating HydraCap, our very own Ideals have been subverted. But what force exists to fight this? Heroes who can’t stop fighting one another in petty squabbles long enough to realize what was wrong with Captain America? Villains who are really good deep inside but just needed more hugs from mother and father?
    HydraCap is what happens when there are no real heroes left. When no one can ever be truly certain if a hero is right and just, when they fight amongst another over and over again. When selfishness, apathy and villainy can be justified and even held up as heroic. When there is no sense of what is right and wrong anymore- you get HydraCap. The true Captain America does not fit in with this world.

    And HydraCap serves two functions- to remove this ideal of unequivocal heroism to justify the existence of the moral relativism seen in the other “heroes”, and to proclaim to us that our ideals of right, wrong and Justice were false.

    Captain America was the figure who represented true Justice, true morality and true heroism, the one who fought against true evil and true injustice. But in the new Marvel, Captain America cannot be permitted to exist. He cannot stand with the legions of heroes and villains whose actions are all relative to one another, where one man’s villain is another man’s hero and vice versa. So Captain America was sacrificed to become the villain that cannot be justified, that cannot be looked upon with understanding. The one black void that the nebulous cloud of grey can point to and shriek “Attack!”

    When the previous voices of reason such as Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America have all been deconstructed, subverted, shamed and rendered mere shells of their former selves, their light cannot be shone upon the hypocrisy and abject madness the remaining ignoble “heroes” portray. Even upon their eventual return to glory, this is a wound that they will never truly heal- it has festered for far too long.

    1. Carnage 707, you are today’s winner of the next “Doug Prize” for your sterling record of using logic, reason, and sound judgment in the comments section of this blog (and for seeming like an all around awesome guy).

      I will have you know that I have two huge boxes of “Doug Prizes” that will arrive at my apartment tonight. You will receive something “hero-ish” within the next couple of weeks.

    2. Wow! Thank you very much! It’s always a pleasure to read your blog, watch your videos and communicate with you and the other readers.

    3. “Thank you very much! It’s always a pleasure to read your blog, watch your videos and communicate with you and the other readers.”

      YouTube gives me much more bang for the buck in terms of reach, but the blog is where there are some really sharp guys (and gals) who share their opinions from time to time. If I wanted level-headed and intelligent, I turn to the comments section on the blog. If I want a large quantity to individuals to interact with, I turn to YouTube. There are some really nice people there, but others who are the worst kind of trolls.

    4. Hate to say it, but the X-Men, for example had joined this band of ‘ignoble heroes’ …long ago the first experiments in doing something ‘edgy’ to break down the boundaries of morality. In the past, they could be accused of skirting the edge…but there was never any doubt where their intentions lay.

      So they started with Marvel’s own MLK. A flawed man, with strong ideals and a will to match…and broke him down, his lost of crimes written into Marvel history to make him nearly irredeemable…from the murder of his sister in the womb, to the imprisonment of a sentient AI, to the ret-conned, willful coverup of a poor decision that got a group of X-men killed, and most objectionably, portrayed him as incredibly callous, selfish and pathetically manipulative. That was Ed Brubaker…from Captain America for X-men:Deadly Genesis.

      Now the X-men are full of rubber band villain/heroes. Mags is bad then good than bad again. Emma regularly reminds us she’s a hero now, than goes crazy (especially in that awful inhumans vs. X-men book). Cyclops dedicates himself to protecting only mutants, behaves in unscrupulous ways and even his time-displaced variant is more of an observer to the rot than a hero and leader in the most unreadable X-men book I have ever seen.

      If you read these things…which I unfortunately have been…you can’t help but notice that the ‘stalwarts’ just stand around, or are not present. Colossus and Nightcrawler are very moral upstanding characters…they wouldn’t fit in well with Emma, Mags or even Magik unleashed! So they show up for action pieces and how they are as characters is ignored. Well, I guess Colossus likes to wear anti-christian messages on his shirt. Nightcrawler, as the character I know, simply doesn’t belong, and I dont think the rebirth is going to fix it. There was a short series for NC that Claremont did recently…it wasn’t all that great, but he captured much if NC’s frustration there…what the hell is wrong with this team? He seemed to say throughout the book.

      (this deserves it’s own paragraph) Storm has truly become a token…a miserable example of how these so-called liberals treat a long time established minority character (as opposed to their army of replacements and stand-ins). Bendis and the new Guggenheim, write her to spout nostalgia. She’s like a statue, always asking questions and doing very little. Any one who read the X-men of the past, knows her to be extremely strong willed and aggressive when it comes to important decisions…she willed herself into becoming the X-men’s leader, pulling Scott aside to question his decision making and offering to do a better job (not out in the open like these immature writers think should be done). Now she’s second or third fiddle, an empty character that feels tacked on to every book she’s in.

      I guess my point is, this kind of thing has been going on a long time with other characters…and if I’m being honest, it’s already happened to Captain America and every other mainstream hero a long time ago. We just shrugged and said ‘hey, at least it’s well written!’

      Hell, in the recent Movie, we all watched Cap turn on everyone to protect a friend even though he could not possibly know all the circumstances involved…just his faith. Had Bucky been a little different, Cap is a villain and a disgustingly obtuse one at that (choosing his ideal about falling under control of the government over bringing in a possible murderer). Iron Man is ready to murder…even after knowing the circumstances…

      and we all cheered like lemmings.

  6. Well, I might be one of the few, but I didn’t enjoy MCU Civil War, for the reasons you just gave. The Sokovia Accords conflict was ridiculous, Cap’s reasoning throughout that movie was nonsense, he injured innocent German cops, Cap concealed vital information from Tony (giving Tony every reason to mistrust him), Cap encouraged Scott Lang to be separated from Cassy, Tony endangered an inexperienced teen-ager (Peter), ignored the issue of Bucky being a brainwashed drone, and then tried to murder Barnes in cold blood. It’s a badly written movie.

    1. I loved it originally, and it’s only after watching it a few times with the kids that the reason the heroes don’t turn out to be complete scum is because of story contrivances. Rhodey doesn’t get killed sooo…it’s ok! Bucky doesn’t get ‘triggered’ and slaughter a whole bunch of innocent people while under Cap’s protection…so Cap’s ok! Iron Man doesn’t blow a hole in Bucky’s chest, which he should have been able to do easily if he didn’t want to go ‘toe-to-toe’ …so Tony’s ok too!

      Hawkeye doesn’t give 2 shits about his family (which at least the directors picked up on) willing to stooge himself to a guy he barely knows for another guy he barely knows against/for some friends he unwillingly stabbed in the back once before. For a ‘free’ guy, he’s pretty easy to manipulate.

      Widow doesn’t have any discernible morals other than not being sure, switching sides when it feels right, or well, we don’t know what.

      Cap’s an arrogant fool. His friends who just risked their lives for/with him mean nothing to him now, he’s a tree and they are in his way. WAIT! Except Bucky, whose worth risking everything for (again the directors pick up on this…but they still made Cap an asshole.) Maybe Rhodey’s dead body would have made a better point…or for that matter Bucky’s. Captain I don’t want to talk and work things out. Captain I’m only honorable to these people and everyone else can go screw themselves. Captain asshole.

      Iron Jerk. Who goes behind everyone’s back. Who keeps everything to himself, and is in rampage mode and can’t be bothered to cool off and talk when he’s got some smug smart-assed comments to regale us with. Iron Mouth, Iron Twit. He just wanted to shove that shield up caps rear because of his own ego. If they wanted to teach us a real lesson in stupidity and outrageousness, they should have let Iron Man kill him, He can then raise his friend Cap and Bucky’s Heads into the air and scream “This is for you DAD!”.

      And Zemo…just needed a hug I guess.

      Thor and Hulk come out pretty good!

      Obviously repeat viewing soured me on the movie…probably why I try to avoid repeat viewings

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