‘Captain America #1’: Nick Spencer turns hero into Hydra agent with Tom Brevoort’s blessing

Hydra pamphlet

Your friendly neighborhood blogger wrote a piece of satire in January 2015 that involved Marvel Comics turning Red Skull into Captain America. Fast forward in time to May 25, 2016, and the company has, for all intents and purposes, done just that.

Captain America has seemingly been a Hydra agent since the very beginning — and Marvel executive editor Tom Brevoort claims it is not a gimmick.

TIME magazine reported:

Every single month whether it’s a run of the mill month for Captain America or an extraordinary month, our job is to put him in situations that place that character under some degree of pressure and see how he reacts to that. And hopefully our readers are surprised, shocked, elated, see something of themselves, learn something about themselves. To say it’s a gimmick implies that it’s done heedlessly just to shock. The proof is always going to be in the execution. So you’ll have to read the rest of the story to see.

But I certainly believe it’s not a gimmick. It’s a story that we spent a long time on, that’s compelling and captures the zeitgeist of the world. It will make readers wonder how the heck we’ll get out of this.

The truth, however, is slightly different: Readers want to know how Marvel got into this mess. Hiring Nick Spencer — a man who is so weirdly partisan that he says Republicans are “evil” — explains a lot, but the problem goes much deeper.

Before we move on, however, here is what you need to know about Steve Rogers: Captain America #1:

  • Steve Rogers had an abusive father.
  • Steve’s mother, Sarah, is aided by a “Hydra Society” member one night after her husband beats her. She takes a pamphlet for Hydra’s New York chapter (because creepy skulls with tentacles would never set off warning bells).
  • Red Skull recruits the next generation of Hydra in 2016 by making fair points about Europe’s refugee crisis (i.e., Nick Spencer wants you to associate rather innocuous conservative observations with Nazi villains).
  • S.H.I.E.L.D. finds Baron Zemo, which prompts Captain America, Jack Flag, and Free Spirit to the lawless city of Bagalia.
  • Jack Flag ignores Cap’s orders and assists in confronting Zemo in the villain’s jet.
  • Captain America laments Jack Flag’s decision and then throws him out a cargo drop.
  • The issue ends with Captain America saying “Hail Hydra” to Doctor Erik Selvig, a scientist Zemo held hostage in an attempt to find the sentient Cosmic Cube known as Kobik.

Red Skull

The question on everyone’s mind, judging from the #saynotohydracap hashtag that trended on Twitter all morning, is simple: Why?

The answer: A culture of moral relativism inside the halls of Marvel is so prevalent that Doctor Octopus had to become “Spider-man” for over a year and now Captain America must run around as a Nazi-sympathizing Hydra agent for an extended amount of time.

Iron Man was turned into a villain.

Spider-Man was turned into a villain.

Captain America is now a villain.

Heroes battled each other in Civil War and will do so again in Civil War II.

Notice a trend? These are the hallmarks of an organization that is so uncomfortable drawing a clear line between good and evil that instead it would rather go with a “one man’s Captain America is another man’s Red Skull” approach.

Nothing matters: Captain America is Hydra. Doctor Octopus is Spider-Man. Iron Man is a George W. Bush allegory and Red Skull agrees with Republicans (and moderate Democrats) on the issue of Syrian refugees. That is your modern Marvel comic book, and it wouldn’t be so embarrassing if men like Tom Breevort didn’t lie about writing for “the zeitgeist.”

Captain America Jack Flag

Take the following claim by Mr. Brevoort, for example:

TIME: In the comic the Red Skull of Hydra talks about “criminal trespassers” who “make a mockery” of America’s borders and calls the refugees in Germany an “invading army” bringing “fanatical beliefs and crime” to Europe. Obviously, this hate speech is nothing new for the organization, but it sounds like rhetoric we’ve been hearing this election. Is that purposeful?

Brevoort: We try to write comics in 2016 that are about the world and the zeitgeist of 2016, particularly in Captain America. Nick Spencer, the writer, is very politically active. He’s a Capitol Hill head and following this election very closely. So we can talk about political issues in a metaphoric way. That’s what gives our stories weight and meat to them. Any parallels you have seen to situations real or imagined, living or dead, is probably intentional but metaphorically not literally.

Mr. Brevoort liked the word “zeitgeist” so much that he used it twice in one interview, but it’s funny how the “zeitgeist” only relates to making Republican presidential candidates look like Nazis and then turning Captain America into a Hydra agent — all in the same issue where a guy with ties to white supremacists turned himself into a Hyrda suicide bomber.

Why is it that Marvel’s zeitgeist-quota is laughably focused on metaphors of white, Republican males as evil instead of, say, national security threats posed by Islamic terrorist organizations controlling large swathes of Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and Afghanistan?

How strange is it that Nick Spencer did not find it timely in a post-9/11 world to have Captain America team up with Ranger-run task forces in Pakistan, but he did to turn him into a Hydra agent?

If you increasingly find yourself feeling like Doctor Erik Selvig or any other characters who are held hostage in Marvel’s comics, then you should know that you are not alone. The characters you grew up with are now beholden to partisan writers and editors who enable immature and mean-spirited fantasies. Hashtag’s like #saynotohyracap are fine, but withholding hard-earned cash should always be the primary method of conveying displeasure.

Tune in here in for future updates into the sad decline of Marvel’s comics division and the activist-creators behind it all.

Update: John C. Wright was kind enough to link to this post. To all of his readers: Welcome!

Captain America Hydra