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Tuesday, June 21, 2016 

Tribune News' apologia for warping Steve Rogers

Here's another example on Arcamax of mainstream news defending Marvel's "history alteration" of Steve Rogers for the sake of publicity at all costs, and this one is quite loathsome too. For starters:
A twist ending to Marvel's Captain America re-launch has driven a number of fans into a frenzy, some even issuing death threats to the writer. To these folks I say: "It's just a comic book."
First off, if any death threats really were issued, then yes, that's reprehensible, and conflicts with the beliefs Captain America's supposed to represent. But I've been thinking at times: what if some of these alleged obscenities were faked, not unlike some that were supposedly made circa the Gamergate campaign? I'd read that Tom Brevoort posted a nasty item supposedly written by a US marine, but I have a feeling it was either faked, or, it was just some disgusting cybertroll who wanted to undermine the dissenters. And if any of these vulgarities really were falsified, then somebody on Marvel's side is guilty of trying to sabotage the opposition.

And that's not the only problem here. The above makes it sound like all fans are guilty, no matter what their political standings, and like they're wrong to object. Which is just one more problem with this atrocious article.

All that aside, were Nazi propaganda films of the 1930s "just movies"? Hardly, so such a defense is limp.
You may have heard about the controversy, which made national news. It began in "Captain America: Steve Rogers" #1, which shipped May 25. That title is starting over, because Steve Rogers hasn't been Captain America for the last couple of years in the Marvel Universe. A villain named Iron Nail negated the Super-Soldier Serum in Cap's body in 2014, reverting him to his natural age. (Very, very old.) Sam Wilson (formerly the Falcon), has been the Star-Spangled Avenger ever since, starring in "Captain America: Sam Wilson" and a variety of Avengers titles.

Anyway, in a recent story too long to tell, an omnipotent Cosmic Cube – what was called a "tesseract" in the movies -- was used to restore Steve Rogers to the pink of health, and to the red, white and blue of clothes. So, naturally, the newly restored Cap was instantly awarded his own title, the aforementioned "Captain America: Steve Rogers." Written by the talented Nick Spencer and drawn by the dazzling Jesus Saiz, it is a truly excellent display of the comic book craft.
Man, they sure got the apologists in full swing, don't they? I don't see what's so excellent about a book whose most overlooked part happens to be Red Skull serving as a representative of opponents to illegal immigration and jihadists. It wouldn't shock me if they turned Steve into a retconned cast member to take away attention from that troubling matter.
There's only one hitch: Throughout the issue we see heretofore unseen flashbacks to Steve's mother Sarah Rogers in the 1930s, where she is apparently recruited by Hydra. And in the present, Cap tosses one of his allies out of a plane, turns to a hostage and says two damning words: "Hail Hydra."

Yikes! Has Captain America been a sleeper agent for Hydra all along? Oh, the humanity!
Oh, they must relish the sensationalism, which is disgusting.
Needless to say, the anti-Nazi Captain America being a sleeper agent for what amounts to a neo-Nazi organization upset quite a few people. [...]
They shouldn't be? Sounds like somebody really dumb doesn't like or care much for a creation that was meant to both entertain and inspire. Again, we seem to have a case of an apologist implying fans are inherently stupid and wrong to raise protests.
And ... scene. That is the perfect response. In other words: "Settle down, Beavis. It's just a comic book."

The purpose of any comic book story is to arouse interest and excitement, and to encourage the reader to buy the next issue. I think "Captain America: Steve Rogers" #1 has succeeded in that regard.
All this coming from a journalistic Butt-head, much worse than the one seen on the cartoon. Here we go again with the notion that even if the tale is potentially offensive, it's quite okay, because money is what matters, not sensibility. I've asked before and will again: if Steve was retconned into a child molestor or a rapist, would that be justified? Would it even be worth interest and excitement? Of course not! A sane person doesn't want to read about heroes and their co-stars abruptly turned into vile villains. Which is exactly what Spencer and company did in this new rendition.
Moreover, Captain America couldn't have been a sleeper agent since the 1930s. If so, he certainly would have shown his true colors on any number of previous occasions, where doing so would have given Hydra control of the world. So Spencer isn't guilty of "destroying 75 years worth of characterization."

No, this is something new. And you know what else is new? The Cosmic Cube that re-made Steve Rogers just a few issues ago. And does anyone doubt that "re-made" included a new history, one where Cap's mother was a Hydra agent? And does anyone doubt the Cosmic Cube, a device which might as well be stamped "Deus ex Machina," can't un-do what it has done?

So the Reset Button is within reach. All Spencer has to do is get from point A to point B, which is what those in the biz call "a story."

That may or may not be Spencer's plan; some other fix may be in the works. But you don't have to have the writing prowess of Stan Lee to guess that "Captain Hydra" is going to be a temporary condition.
It's not like we think it couldn't be temporary. Of course we know it's an abrupt retcon. The dummy writing this junk missed the boat entirely: what matters is that the publishers deliberately sought to offend Cap fans instead of pleasing them. None of which matters to the columnist, I see. As I've said before, even if time was altered, that doesn't make the story any good. The way this was marketed alone is lugubrious.
And, you know, it's not the worst that could happen. I mean, it's not like they killed off Captain America or anything.
Well now. Sounds like somebody's never heard of "fates worse than death". One could argue this is just what they've stooped to now, taking what once might've been written as a simple What If? tale and embellished it into some protracted idiocy spotlighting "evil Steve", all for the sake of depicting Steve as a repellent criminal. And after noting what happened to Steve following the awful Civil War, they say:
Which is not the only terrible thing writers have done to Captain America. When you've been around as long as the Living Legend of World War II, writers have to stretch to find new ways to make his life miserable (and therefore interesting).
Now, they're insisting on what's become a rather common cliche - that a hero's life MUST be a puddle of misery, and that's the sole way it could possibly be interesting. Frankly, that wouldn't work even with Batman or the Hulk. They're just regurgitating the cliches of the 1990s.
What about "Streets of Poison" (1990), where a meth lab blew up in Cap's face, and he spent several issues running around New York hallucinating and beating up on whoever was handy? And there was that time Cap was exiled to "Dimension Z" for 10 years, where he spent a decade leading a revolution against Arnim Zola's mutates while raising an adopted son. That was no picnic.

But, hey, he got better.
But hey, did the writing? Some of those examples, as indicated, took place in the 90s, and writing had gone downhill. It hasn't changed in the 2000s, and hasn't gotten any better. Just because a specific direction was reversed or abandoned doesn't ensure better scripting will follow, and certainly not if the worst editors and writers are still at the helm.
And, you know, "Captain America: Steve Rogers" #1 isn't even the first time Cap has been a Nazi. The Red Skull brainwashed Cap back in 1965, in a story by Stan Lee and Cap co-creator Jack Kirby, which featured the Star-Spangled Avenger giving a snappy Nazi salute. Dr. Faustus turned Cap into a shield-slinging Fascist in 1997, but fortunately Daredevil was around to snap him out of it.
The description of the nazi salute in this article is crude and revolting. Besides, as I've mentioned before - and the difference is practically made clear here too - that Steve was brainwashed, as stated above, in 1965 and 1997. So there's a difference in this new depiction, time warps or no time warps.
And speaking of Stan Lee, Newsarama.com reported what he had to say about Captain Hydra at the 2016 MegaCon [...]
And this article fails to acknowledge that Stan never pans what Marvel's staff are doing under any circumstances, as I'd noted before too. What's really galling, of course, is that he won't refrain and just say he'd rather not comment, but rather, he'll speak positively no matter how tasteless a direction happens to be. That's the sad reality about Stan, that he's a yes-man for the PC establishment, and when he does speak negatively of something, it's when the focus is on something that the leftist establishment balks at, like combatting modern day jihadism (and I vaguely recall an interview several years ago where he said he didn't think today's politicized comics should tackle the issue). In fact, several years ago, when Frank Miller originally wanted to write Batman taking on al Qaeda, guess whose side Lee wouldn't take? That's right, he basically threw Miller under the bus. He certainly seems to know what the liberals would want to hear, and Lee won't disappoint them.

At the end, the columnist says about the direction:
And, needless to say, a temporary one. So strap on your shields and enjoy the ride, fellow readers, without sending death threats to the writer. At least Cap's not a werewolf this time.
There are things worse than being turned into a werewolf. And still again, how do we know all those aforementioned threat obscenities were real, or if the lunatics who allegedly sent them were even genuine Cap fans? For all we know, they could be akin to anti-Gamergate screwballs who actually want to help Marvel justify this latest shoddy excuse for a direction, and if that's the case, it's disgraceful there's professional victimologists out there doing their darndest to undermine everybody else's protests. Of all the apologist propaganda I've seen so far, this is one of the shoddiest.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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