It wasn’t that long ago that comic book purists were taking to social media to upload pictures and videos of themselves burning copies of the the Free Comic Book Day offering of Secret Empire. Why the outrage? It was believed that author Nick Spencer made Mr. Red, White, and Blue (aka Captain America) into a Hitler loving Nazi. Although the irony of the situation wasn’t lost on Mr. Spencer, I’m sure it was difficult to see his hard work go up in flames.
I’ll be honest, I was upset when I heard the news that Cap said “Hail HYDRA!” It was difficult to wrap my head around the idea that “my” Captain America became the very thing he fought against. “My” Captain America would never turn to the Dark Side. “My” Captain America was incorruptible.
After the shock and awe of Cap becoming a Nazi (but not really) wore off, I realized that I kept saying “My Captain America” as if I had some kind of ownership of the character. The hard truth is I don’t. Even if I spend my hard earned cash on Cap comics and others, I shouldn’t feel compelled to dictate what goes on in the comics I buy.
It should be noted that comic book fans (I’m including myself here) like particular characters because they have a history of being a certain way, and when they change from the norm, the characters become somewhat unrecognizable. Historically speaking, Captain America has always fought against the Nazis/HYDRA and therefore seeing the Star Spangled Avenger becoming a Ark of the Covenant stealing, book burning, Hitler saluting, Nazi was hard to swallow. But is HYDRA a Nazi organization?
I’ve been reading Mr. Spencer’s run of Captain America: Steve Rodgers and Secret Empire and in doing so I was able to understand that HYDRA does not equate to a Nazi organization. Instead, HYDRA is an ancient society that was created by dark forces to influence the destiny of humanity. Mr. Spencer has turned HYDRA into a very Lovecraft-ian idea. And yes, HYDRA did aligned itself with the Nazis, but also with other dark, and powerful organizations in order to realize its ultimate goal. So to say that Mr. Spencer turned Steve Rodgers into a Nazi isn’t exactly true.
Steve Rodgers is definitely a bad guy, but he appears to struggle when it comes time to make finite decisions for the HYDRA cause. It seems like there still might be some good in Steve, although I’m note sure how Steve can come back from directing the execution of (WARNING SPOILER AHEAD) his one-time sidekick Rick Jones. I guess we are just going to have to wait and see what Mr. Spencer has up his sleeve. Avengers Assemble!