Secret Empire #0: Nick Spencer pens love letter to postmodernism

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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Nick Spencer’s Hydra-Cap #2: Brevoort’s ‘not a gimmick’ line a lie for quick sales

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.

‘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

Captain America: A Conservative Review

How can you go wrong with a guy dressed in the America flag busting down doors, weilding weapons, and cracking Nazi heads? You can't. His "Howling Commando" friend with the derby hat, crazy mustache, and shotgun? Also very cool.

Captain America could have been bad. In fact, it probably should have been bad based on many of the director’s comments leading up to its release. Marvel’s decision to weirdly title the film “The First Avenger” in South Korea and Russia was also a PR blunder. But, in spite of the studio’s liberal tendencies, it’s been a financial success.

As it turns out, the grenade scene first witnessed in the full trailer was indeed a harbinger of good things to come! Want some honor, integrity, personal courage, and selfless service on a Saturday night? This is your movie. Captain America is by no means a perfect film, but it is good, solid family entertainment—the hero is wholesome, the good guys win, the bad guys lose, and it’s not necessary to shield (no pun intended) the kiddie’s eyes.

The biggest complaint conservatives should have about Captain America is that director Joe Johnson put together a good movie when he could have made a great one—if he had a better understanding of what makes America great:

“But I think that as far as good vs. evil, it’s something that is such a universal theme and there are translations of that good vs. evil theme in all times, and in all cultures, and all situations…but I think that it’s really more about the spirit of this guy, of our main character more than anything. And that spirit of determination and wanting to do the right thing is translatable into any nationality and any period really – it’s just sort of a universal theme.”

Joe is right, in that good and evil exist. There are universal truths. But this movie wasn’t about “this guy”—it was about Captain freakin’ America. And what makes America exceptional is that it’s one of the few nations throughout the history of the world with a respectable run on recognizing universal truths. It’s one of the few nations with an honorable human rights record. How disappointing is it that X-Men: First Class did a better job juxtaposing human beings’ dual nature than a superhero movie that takes place during World War II? (i.e., a young—innocent—Magneto must bring his nascent powers to the surface or watch his mother die if he fails, courtesy of the Nazi regime).

The Red Skull could have been Darth Vader evil. He should have been Darth Vader evil. Instead, he was this kind of cool, underdeveloped red and black guy with a lot of potential who got killed at the end of the movie—like Darth Maul. Joe Johnson went for a muted color palette when it came to Captain America’s final costume, but he also muted the good vs. evil dichotomy he wanted to highlight! It’s great that Steve Rogers was allowed to kill Nazis on screen, but even their nature was downplayed; Hydra is a splinter group of the Nazis shrouded in mystery. The Red Skull may have sought to take over the world, but at least he really did have superior genes, even if it was accomplished through the world’s first forays into gene therapy. Doesn’t his somewhat legitimate claim make him less evil than Hitler? If the guy in front of you has the strength and speed of a dozen soldiers it’s hard to argue with him when he says he’s a superior human specimen. But Joe Johnson doesn’t want you to think about it because you’re supposed to just think about “evil.”

Fair enough, but if Joe Johnson wanted a movie completely devoid of politics, perhaps Captain America’s World War II origin story wasn’t for him. Regardless, Kudos to the man for making a fun summer movie despite his best efforts at self-sabotage.

Captain America Trailer: Winning Despite Marvel’s Liberalism

The new Captain America trailer is out – and it’s not half bad. That is, it’s not half bad despite a director who goes out of his way to assure the world that Captain America isn’t trying to embody uniquely American ideals – he’s just “a good person.” His costume is flag-inspired – but he’s not a “flag waver,” (Just as lobbing bombs on countries *cough*Libya*cough* is not war so long as other liberals say it’s not war?).

The trailer is good despite a studio that changes the title from “Captain America” to “The First Avenger” to make a few extra bucks with Commie-nostalgic Russian thugs.

And the trailer is good despite the fact that all indications are that Marvel has tried to tamp down or minimize any of the Nazi swastikas that would normally accompany the evil The Red Skull (Germans buy movie tickets too!). Besides, imagine the conniption fits the thought police would have come Halloween 2011 if little kids wanted to authentically dress up as the The Red Skull? I suppose the thinking goes that if Marvel makes cool movies with cool villains, and those villains wear swastikas…then Nazism is cool? Or that merchandise geared toward kids would have to mirror the movie?  I don’t buy it, but you know that there were countless hours of meetings over the appropriate depiction of Cap’s World War II nemesis. I’m a little jealous of the guys with that job, I admit it.

The thing that’s sad about Captain America isn’t that it will necessarily be a bad movie – it’s that even if it’s a good movie (or a great movie!) there are those of us who know what it could have been. We’ll know that had the writers and directors not been obsessed with how the world might react to superhero literally and figuratively wrapped in the American flag, it would have shined even brighter.

Chris Evans is on record as saying he modeled his Captain America on an Eagle Scout he knows. Great start. But the movie is Captain America – not Captain Eagle Scout. And while Eagle Scouts generally tend to be very patriotic, upstanding, model citizens, in this instance they are merely pieces of circumstantial evidence in a case where something much bigger is at play. There really is no other country on the face of the earth where freedom, liberty, the rule of law, science, and free markets have fused so flawlessly and produced so much prosperity. Captain America, done right, never rubs that fact in the world’s face, but serves as an inspirational figure. The problem with liberal filmmakers is that they only operate in a strange binary string of thought, whereas you only have the “correct” (i.e., liberal) perspective, or you’re a knuckle-dragging, “flag waving,” jingoist.

Americans should never shy away from standing up to the rest of the world (particularly fear regimes, failed states, and pseudo-socialist poverty pits), that our ideas are superior to theirs. And American heroes should be written to reflect that very same confident-without-being-cocky charm.

I’m looking forward to seeing Captain America at this point, but it’s in spite – not because – of  many of the politically correct minds at Marvel.

Chris Evans Gets Captain America. Marvel’s Liberals? We’ll See.

Chris Evans appears to be on the right page, but he still can't change the dialogue if moral relativist goon pap fills the script. Let's hope Marvel is smarter than that this time around.

I have not been impressed with what little news has leaked out about the new Captain America movie so far. When I get the feeling liberal directors or writers are going to turn Captain America into Captain America Anathema just to win over a few disgruntled pseudo-socialists and whiners on the other side of the globe, I get worried:

“He wants to serve his country, but he’s not this sort of jingoistic American flag-waver,” [director] Johnston said.

However, in a recent issue of Wizard, Chris Evans shows some signs of hope:

“I actually have a friend of mine who I’m modeling the character after. This guy is actually an Eagle Scout, he’s one of those guys who stayed in the Boy Scouts all the way until he was 18. He’s just a good human being. He does the right things, he’s open, he’s honest, he’s sincere, he’s selfless. It’s something I think that everyone aspires to.”

Actually, Chris, not everyone has such aspirations, in part because liberal writers and directors tend to latch on to moral relativist goon pap instead of listening to guys like Mark Steyn. One of the reasons why the United States is an exceptional nation is because sewn into its fabric are the principles Boy Scouts live by.

However, instead of focusing on the positive aspects of the American experience, liberal writers focus on dubious tests conducted on African Americans. Confused? Look up Isaiah Bradley, Marvel’s reminder to us all that the United States isn’t an experiment in self-governance—it’s one big Tuskeegee Experiment. Or just pick up a recent issue of Captain America, since apparently the Tea Party movement is the new Red Skull.

Chris Evans is on good footing by modeling his Captain America after a Boy Scout.  Kudos.  But he ultimately doesn’t have control over the script he’s given.  I’m sure if George Bush was still in office the probability that audiences would get a not-so-veiled political pot shot or two, as well as a lecture on how we shouldn’t “lose our way” would be increased tenfold.  However, George Lucas isn’t at the helm, and Barack Obama is in office; Hollywood lecturers have been lulled to sleep (like Captain America suspended in animation since 1945, frozen for decades), since a Democrat is in the driver’s seat.

It will be interesting to see what direction Marvel ultimately decides to go with Captain America.  Until then, it looks like it’s only a matter of time before The Avengers’ Mark Ruffallo provides bloggers with political ramblings they can turn into blogging gold. He’s already displaying the pretentious posturing of a next generation Sean Penn:

“I probably wouldn’t have done this movie in the past. But because of what Robert [Downey Jr] had done and where that genre has gone since then, I did it…I have never really been one to go for the cash. If my dad knew how much money I had turned in my lifetime he would kick me in the a**.”

Why take part in a movie that might pit Good against Evil when you can play the sperm donor for lesbians, right Mark? Personally, I’ll go with the famous phrase comic nerds everywhere know: Make mine Marvel.