Welcome, all. This is D.C. here to throwdown on what everyone seems to be throwing down on. I thought it was time I wrote my own take on this.
As many of you know, read, or heard, Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 came out this week. The end of the issue featured a single page, and a single sentence that seems to be throwing this whole country for a loop.
What a visceral reaction this generated. What a visceral reaction it generated before people even got to read the issue.
True to my nature, I took the news with intrigue, I took the new articles with a grain of salt, and I disregarded the overwhelming rage sweeping the web and nerdom. I bought Issue #1 to see how this call came about, and how I would feel about it, taking into account my feelings towards Steve Rogers the character, and my almost 30-year experience with him.
How was Issue #1?
First off, let me say that I thought the first issue was okay. Steve’s costume, like anyone’s that changes, will always take time to get accustomed to. I have no malice towards the design, but I think the coloring on the costume wasn’t consistent with that on Jesus Saiz’s cover art it in general.
The dialogue of Cap’s supporting cast really needs work. I think writer Nick Spencer needs to take more time to read up on and to understand the psychology and the idiosyncracies of each character beyond Sharon Carter and Steve Rogers (both of whom were done well, in my eyes).
What pleased me was Nick Spencer’s internal dialogue of Steve Rogers. It showed that this twist in Cap’s association still appears to be rooted in the same values Rogers always had: nobility, altruism, and the belief that one person to change the world.
I was surprised by Sharon Carter’s appearance. When the hell did she get so old? There’s obviously something I missed in between the last books I read, so it’s time for me to do some backtracking.
Why all the hate?
Oh, we all know why there’s so much hate, but is it justified? I guess it depends on who you’re asking. I think critical assessment is what is missing in the discussion about Cap being a Hydra member. Common arguments are:
1. “That’s like saying Batman was responsible for his parents’ deaths!”
That comment has become trendy in the last couple of days. I don’t think I’m even going to dignify that incongruous comment with an analysis. It’s an asinine analogy. It’s illogical, and it’s nonsensical. Please don’t use this in an otherwise meaningful discussion.
2. So Steve’s a Nazi now? That’s stupid!
No. There was no indication that Steve Rogers is, or has ever been, a Nazi. Even if he were affiliated with Hydra from youth, those two points are not mutually inclusive. One does not become a Nazi by becoming a Hydra member, and vice-versa.
Why does that make sense?
Was there not a suicide bomber in issue #1 that wore a swastika and shacked up with white supremacists? Did that make him a white supremacist, or did he join up because he needed protection while in prison? Was it not stated that he had no problem with non-whites? Did that suicide bomber not have difficulty with his associates beating a non-white man to death?
It might be odd to say it, being a black man, but one does not need to wear a swastika to be a Nazi, neo-Nazi, supremacist, or whatever derivative that exists.
Does make the affiliation any less reprehensible? I want to see if that gets answered for Steve Rogers.
But black-and-white is the way our world wants to work sometimes.
People forget that many, many people join a group or cause not because they believe in everything a group does, but because something in that cause resonates with their fear, anger, hate, love, and desires. One doesn’t need to agree with genocide or the horrific, ugly words; one only needs to agree with any number of beautiful, powerful or manipulative words that may come out of a speaker’s mouths.
(If anyone has seen “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,” you understand my message. Beautiful and gripping film, by the way.)
So, no. Until further notice, I disagree with the argument that Rogers is a Nazi. They may have had leading members and done acts that one would liken to Nazism, but think about it like in the real world: does that mean EVERY member of a group do EVERYTHING good and bad related to that group?
3. “Steve Rogers stands up for [insert American value here], and this destroys everything about him/his core ideas!”
First off, we’re adults. Even if you’re not an adult, I would expect us all to argue points without ridiculous hyperbole. It makes you sound emotional, and emotional is a fast track to losing your point in any argument. It is the internet, and I’ll have to accept that people say very emotional things. But that doesn’t mean I’ll take anyone who uses hyperbole like “destroys everything” seriously in a debate.
I don’t like political debate, but I’ll tiptoe as best as I can. For anyone who says that Captain America stands for x, y, and z, and the values of America, I ask this:
If Cap is supposed to embody the ideas of America, which America are we talking about? Whose America? Because I can guarantee you that, from the past until now, people interpret what America was/is very differently. Some have seen America as utopia, but some have seen America as hell. It’s an uncomfortable thought, but that doesn’t make it any less probable.
But as for my view: America is imperfect. It has flaws, just as every person and nation does. Just as Captain America is. America is complex, and it should stand that Steve Rogers would be the same. Many “fans” and other outspoken opponents to this issue believe Cap should not have changed.
There have been times when Steve Rogers didn’t even know what America was anymore. The most recent example I can recall was in the Siege storyline, when Rogers allowed Bucky to keep the shield and identity of Captain America. What’s Rogers’ view of America been since then? Does anyone know for certain?
What is Captain America in an America that is constantly changing? What ARE America’s values now, as opposed to what they WERE?
Most importantly, how should those values and views of America be expressed? Should we damn or shy away from any expression that appears unfavorable to our sensibilities, no matter how possible it could be? Is that an American thing to do?
4. “This is a crap/bad story!”
This goes right up there with my issues with hyperbole. I’ll make the argument against this type of comment very simple:
This is the first issue of a book, and the start of an arc. One issue does not make a crap book or arc. If you decide the entirety of a creative team’s run and the entirety of a character off of one page, then you are not a critical thinker at all. You are not properly vetting the book in any significant form, no matter how many issues of Captain America you’ve amassed, or how extensive you think your comic knowledge is.
Like I said before, Steve’s nobility and core values seem present to me still. Twisted, perhaps, but still. I hope he comes out of this better than now.
5. “This is liberal, destructive bulls#**!”
This is not an argument that has any sort of sense. But for the sake of argument…is a supportive view of Cap’s new status quo unpatriotic or “liberal?”
Well, I had a conversation with a coworker today about Cap’s new status. That coworker is a very proud former Navy man, and an extremely proud conservative. And yet, he explained to me the sensibility in Cap being a Hydra member. So…without going further, I think that fact alone would eliminate the “liberal” argument right there.
Nonetheless, I would expect intelligent people to take time to understand what is happening in this book, and no one can have complete understanding from one issue. I expect us to to do more than cry foul and spout purely subjective and nebulous reasons for why something is “uniformly” bad.
I think Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 had a very interesting and disconcerting twist on Steve’s life. If and when this status is reversed, I do hope there are lasting and real repercussions for Steve, his outlook on America, and how Americans see him.
What is your view of it?