Entertainment Weekly's letting Spencer/Brevoort get away with their terrible direction
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How long has this been in development? What inspired you to rethink such an iconic character in this way?So Remender, who's a mighty pretentious writer himself, thought this up? Well at least that's reason enough not to waste time on his work. "Inspired" is a poor way to describe this mess too.
BREVOORT: It made something new and unexpected out of restoring Steve to youth and vigor. Nobody was especially surprised that Steve got restored, but hopefully readers will be surprised by this revelation—and by the stories that follow on from this point.
SPENCER: Rick Remender, who was the previous writer on Captain America, had been building towards this story of Hydra having infiltrated various institutions of government and various super teams. I thought that sounded like too big of a story. I drilled it down and thought, what if there’s just one very valuable Hydra plant? What if they’re looking for 100 people, but there’s just one? So I started asking, who’s the worst person it could possibly be? It was really obvious straight away that there’s nobody who could do more damage and nobody that could be a more valuable Hydra plant than Steve Rogers. That was really the genesis. It sprang pretty organically from story ideas that were already on the table.
What does it mean for the Marvel Universe to have its most iconic superhero flip sides like this?Naturally, one has to wonder how Cap can be inspiring and uniting if he's now turned into a monster. Again, even if this isn't permanent, their callous attitude only compounds the picture they want to tell fans they despise them through their outrage culture.
BREVOORT: Well, it puts the readers one step ahead of most of the characters in the Marvel Universe, so that, in Hitchcock tradition, they’re aware that the most trusted and most respected superhero within the Marvel Universe is now a wolf among the flock, who could strike at any time.
SPENCER: Captain America is not just one of the most recognizable faces in the Marvel Universe. He’s an inspiring figure, somebody who brings people together. Everybody here obviously gets that. What you hope is that this story, in its own very different way, highlights those things and only continues to elevate the character in importance, and only serves to illustrate how powerful that symbol is.
This issue also introduces us to a new generation of Hydra fighters, who resemble ISIS and white supremacist organizations. What were your influences there?Despite EW's citation of ISIS, it's highly unlikely they'll actually write Hydra resembling an Islamofascist movement, and they certainly won't say the Religion of Peace is bad, or recognize the connections ISIS has with it. Besides, let's remember what Spencer put in Red Skull's mouth, which was just one of the most negative aspects of this new series.
SPENCER: That’s exactly right. Those are the two things that are being conflated here to some extent. The Red Skull obviously has a lot of experience with fascism and Nazism and white supremacy movements. What we’re seeing here is an adoption of modern-day terror tactics. For me, those were an interesting couple of components to put together. What we see throughout the world right now is that these kinds of movements are heavily resurgent and seeing record-breaking recruitment numbers. So some of this is trying to be a little forward-thinking in picturing what the world might look like if these kinds of organizations decide to adopt these kinds of tactics.
What do you like about keeping Captain America stories topical like that?Some responsibility alright. They're not even treating him like a superhero at all now, but a supervillain. They have no respect for Stan Lee's "with great power" argument at all.
BREVOORT: Captain America is different from all other characters in that he’s not just a guy in a colorful costume — he is literally draped in the flag of our nation. As such, there’s a certain responsibility to keep Cap’s adventures metaphorically grounded in the zeitgeist of the moment. When you fail to do that, when you start to treat him like just another random superhero, his stories inevitably lose a lot of their potency.
SPENCER: I didn’t want the Red Skull to just do a saber-rattling “Hydra’s going to crush everyone and rule the world” kind of speech, because that probably is not going to fill the basement of some truckstop bar with guys who feel like they’ve been kicked around their whole lives and feel like they’re losing their way. So I looked around in the real world at what’s driving recruitment into these kinds of groups, what in the real world is motivating the guys in that basement. The Skull has a long history of co-opting various movements, and this one is really just tailor-made for him.
What kind of relationship will Cap have with this new generation of Hydra?Wow, did he say that? It's even more difficult to identify with Steve Rogers in Spencer/Brevoort's rendition because if he's really depicted as what they claim, then he's basically been turned into a revolting criminal. IIRC, Spencer was the same writer who recently penned a series highlighting Spider-Man's rogues gallery. The part about "fun parallels" is also very uncomfortable.
SPENCER: It’s a big part of our story, what Steve’s beliefs are about what Hydra should be, where it should go, what it should focus on. To me, I always get really fascinated by this kind of thing. Any World War II history buff can talk your ear off about the internal power struggles of the Nazi Party. There were some fun parallels to play with here. There’s also a little bit of The Man in the High Castle here. It’s a difficult challenge to get people invested in Hydra characters because their ideology is so repugnant, but what The Man in the High Castle did so well was get you to pull for the lesser of the evils. You might be seeing some similar things here.
One thing I like about this storyline is it really helps separate the current comics status quo from the movies. Is that something you were thinking about when planning this?I'm sure there's people out there who realize they'll have to boycott all of Marvel's output if they want to make clear they don't accept this. I think they should also boycott EW for siding so blatantly with Marvel and DC's retcons turning heroes/co-stars into villains. If DC turned Superman into a supremacist criminal tomorrow - and it's always possible they could and will - I'm sure EW would have no issue with that either. For all we know, even the moviemakers could one day decide superheroes-as-villains is a throughly acceptable vision to boot.
BREVOORT: Not specifically. Honestly, while we love the films, we tend to chart our own course and not get too tangled up in where they happen to be in the curve of their own storytelling. By definition, we operate at a different pace—they produce one Captain America story every two years at maximum, whereas we’ll release a number of different stories involving Cap every single month. So we look at what we do as being the trailblazers. This gives the studio’s team a big swath of raw material to cherry-pick from when working out what next to do with the characters in their medium. Our stories of today are potentially the inspiration for the movies of tomorrow.
It's pretty clear at this point having Disney as Marvel's owner is doing it no favors, because obviously, they don't see any value in the creations save for movie adaptations and computer games. In that case, I just don't see what their point was in buying it to start with. Recalling Marvel's problems with bankruptcy in the late 1990s, you could justly wonder if it would've been far better had they folded years before. Then, not so much money and trees would've been put to waste over such terrible ideas as we're seeing there today.