Help Me Understand HydraCap! Matt on Secret Empire #0

April 21, 2017

I’ve been having trouble with the “Cap is a Nazi” story. Not the in-comics story itself, really, but the real-world response to it. I started writing this post a while back but got derailed by life. With the release of Secret Empire #0 and a few prologue tie-ins today, it seemed like an apt time to revisit. In addition to the zero issue kicking off the big event, I also bought and read Captain America: Steve Rogers #16, Thunderbolts #12, and U.S.Avengers #5.

There are some spoilers for those books below (including the seemingly major revelation from the prologue to Secret Empire #0 which I spoil in the very next paragraph), but the main point is me trying to grasp the reaction to the overall event.

Also, a caveat: with the exception of those four comics, I’m six months behind on the story, because I’ve been following via Marvel Unlimited. So I may well be literally missing something crucial that appeared clearly on-panel in a comic from that six-month gap.

The recap as I understand it goes something like this: when Kobik, the child-like personification of the Cosmic Cube, rejuvenated an elderly Steve Rogers, she actually rewrote his entire history in a way that was shaped (unbeknownst to Cap) by the Red Skull. The crucial What If…? deviation sees Rogers’ mother brought into a Hydra cell in World War 2, which in turn puts young Steve into their clutches and lets them shape him as the ultimate sleeper agent. Secret Empire #0 further clarifies that in 1945, Hydra hid Steve–by then established as Captain America, pretty much the ultimate sleeper agent–in a magic pool to protect him when the Allies (allegedly) used a crude Cosmic Cube to rewrite reality so they, not Hydra, won the war. (The main point of that reveal SEEMS to be, as far as I can tell, to explain how Cap has completely different memories from everyone else in the Marvel Universe.)

Secret Empire, it appears, will be the story of what happens when Cap reveals his true allegiance to the Marvel Universe of 2017.

I’ve mentioned on here a few times (I think, though of course I can’t find any now) that my introduction to regularly buying Captain America comics was somewhere around issue #332, the dramatic “CAPTAIN AMERICA NO MORE” cover with Cap standing helpless in the bleeding (weeping?) stripes of the American flag. This was the storyline where Steve Rogers, disillusioned with the government and unwilling to become their lackey, turns in his shield and uniform and wanders America for awhile before, inevitably, retaking the mantle of Cap in, inevitably, issue #350.

Steve is replaced by John Walker, a bit of a good ol’ boy who starts out as a much more Reagan’s-80s Cap before becoming an unhinged lunatic when his parents are murdered by a bunch of white supremacists. Somewhere in the first few issues of that changeover, someone wrote in a letter that’s stuck in my head for 30-odd years–a fairly generic LOC, as I remember–that ended with “Keep Cap Cap!” The editors responded, “Oops! Cap isn’t Cap anymore! Hope you’re still reading!” (or something to that effect–I think it’s in issue #334 on Marvel Unlimited if you’re really interested).

Maybe that’s why I find myself completely unfazed by the current HydraCap storyline: because I started reading Cap when Cap wasn’t Cap anymore, and when he was, in fact, a mildly rednecky psychopath doing the bidding (wittingly) of a shady government subcommittee, which was controlled (unbeknownst to Cap) by the Red Skull. Maybe, in my mind, this is just the sort of thing that happens every now and then.

I dunno.

What I do know is that a lot of comic-critic types that I generally consider smart and interesting–not least our own Mr. Graeme McMillan and ex-Comics Alliance head honcho Andrew Wheeler–find Cap’s current status quo an appalling affront to the ideals of the character, and his creators, and…well, a whole bunch of other things that I quite literally don’t quite understand.

It’s a weird feeling–I don’t want to disagree with these folks, because I know very well that they’re smarter than me. I also know that I am still working to not be the callous jerk that I was for much of my twenties (and probably into my thirties). But I cannot for the life of me understand how the current Cap storyline is any different than that 1980’s story, or the more recent Superior Spider-Man story (or Superior Iron Man, for that matter), or any of a dozen other stories where the hero winds up being replaced by some corrupted version of himself for some reason.

Net result is that current Cap has “always” been a Hydra agent, at least in the same way that Tim Drake was “never” Robin and Blue Beetle was “always” part of the DC Universe.

(And make no mistake: Hydra here is a 100% clear in-story substitute for Nazi. Whether the change is because they’re trying to soften it, or trying to tie it more closely to the movie continuity, or whatever, the intention is clear. Mrs. Rogers is suborned by a fifth column in America, in a strategy that clearly mirrors what American Nazis did at the time. It doesn’t matter how hard the comics work to separate out the Red Skull’s Hydra faction from the other Hydra factions or whatever–Cap, for the moment at least, is a Nazi. I’m not arguing against that at all.)

Most of the storyline until this week has been Cap biding his time, waiting to make his move, trying to keep the whole thing from unraveling on him. Pretty standard double-agent stuff. It seems clear, this being comics, that we are heading toward the inevitable moment when Steve Rogers somehow rewrites his own timeline, possibly by talking to Kobik or maybe by saving his own mother from ever encountering the Hydra cell–but one way or another that we’re heading toward the dramatic return of The Real Steve Rogers.

So…what’s the big deal? I’ve asked both Wheeler and Graeme this directly (on Twitter and via email, respectively), and received a few different answers, none of which fully make sense to me. So instead I’m putting it out as a general question: please, help me understand what’s worse here. Here, let me lay out the criticisms as I understand them, along with my explanation for why those things don’t bother me. (And let me be very clear: I’m not trying to knock down straw-men–I am genuinely looking to understand why this isn’t bothering me more.)

Captain America has forsaken his ideals and is now forever compromised. If they tried a storyline where Steve Rogers (as we knew him in the core Marvel timeline) deliberately and actively said “Hey, I think America has lost its way and I’m turning toward a more anti-immigrant ideology” or something similar, I’d buy this. As it stands, this is basically alternate-universe Steve Rogers, and has no more lasting impact on the character to me than, I dunno, the Red Son version had on the main Superman.

Captain America’s iconography can no longer be held up as firmly anti-fascist. This falls under some of the same thinking as the above–Superman’s iconography is in no way damaged by him becoming a dictator in the Injustice books or wherever–but also under a realistic assessment of the cultural impact of comics.

Current Marvel mainstream superhero comics generally sell, let’s say, 50K copies in the U.S. But, heck, let’s be charitable and say that this is a major storyline that’s touched a lot of books and take the high-end sales number of Civil War II #1, which was apparently 391, 526. That number is ludicrous enough that it probably includes every person who read the book in any format in any country (the next highest-selling issue of that series was at 190K; by the end it had drifted down to 105,658). Meanwhile, Captain America: Civil War sold 1,970,338 Blu-Rays in its FIRST WEEK of release. and had settled out at 2.7M by the end of last year. So it seems pretty safe to say that this is the iconography that the popular culture associates with Cap:

(Not to mention that Cap actor Chris Evans is an incredibly vocal defender of general goodness and civility on Twitter, which helps the brand as well.)

I guess, in summary: my kids still uniformly play Captain American as the good-est of good guys, no matter what’s up in the comics.

Making him a Nazi is worse than making him generically bad (a la Superior Spider-Man). Eh, I dunno. The Nazis are pretty uniformly being held up as bad guys, and … well, Nazis have always been acceptable bad guys in pop culture. The Indiana Jones films are no less populist entertainment for being splashed with swastikas throughout, because they’re attached to the bad guys.

But his creators are Jewish, and this is disrespectful to them. Sort of the same thing again: if you took this avatar of immigrant hope and had him undergo a genuine, deeply-felt, ideological conversion to fascism, racism, and hatred, yes, that would be a slap in the face of the creators. But showing what happens when the proper ideals are perverted? That seems like fair play.

(Also–it’s not exactly relevant but just to be clear on where I come at this: I’m Jewish. I have dear family friends who are Holocaust survivors, and family members who were lost to the Holocaust. I studied the Holocaust extensively in school, starting in first grade where my teacher was a survivor who told us her stories–you can hear some of them here. I’ve visited concentration camps, as well as Holocaust memorials of varying sizes in Israel, Poland, Germany, and D.C. I’m literally in the process of rereading Elie Wiesel’s Night. So it’s not like I have any patience with Nazis, nor like I’m uneducated about their level of evil. And the current wave of anti-semitism has included evacuations at community centers I used to go to for afterschool stuff, and a lockdown at the school where my mother teaches. I do not feel particularly safe or insulated right now.)

With America in the shape it’s in, this is a horrible time for Marvel to be doing this. This is the only one I really strongly disagree with. If there was ever a time to remind people that even pleasant-faced American icons could be hiding hearts of evil; that fascism can indeed be alive and well in America; that things are not at all okay … it’s now. There’s a reason Steve Englehart wanted to tell the original Secret Empire story when Nixon was in power. (And Marvel tried to distance themselves from the political implications back then, also.)

So, then: those are the objections I’ve seen, and explanations of where I’m not fully aligned with them. Please help me understand what I’m missing–and, basically, help me be a better person. One thing I am definitely missing, which may make all the difference, is the apparently-detestable behind-the-scenes comments by the writer, editors, etc. I don’t generally read those sort of interviews, and also–having worked in media relations–assume that everything anyone says in one of them is a half-truth at best, an outright lie at worst. It may be that that’s the crucial difference.

From a story standpoint, the actual opening salvo of Secret Empire was fine–a pretty typical Marvel event book with a well-defined peril and a clearly-laid out enemy attack. (The enemy, of course, being Cap.) If you are the sort of person who claims to see and enjoy Palpatine’s planned rise to power across the Star Wars prequels, you’ll probably admire Cap’s plan here. It’s fairly similar stuff. The pre-zero-issue crossovers were variable: Thunderbolts felt absolutely crucial to the plot but was crippled by its 90’s pastiche art. Captain America: Steve Rogers fleshed the zero issue out a bit, but didn’t feel particularly essential. And U.S.Avengers was great in all the ways Al Ewing-written Marvel books have been for a few years now, and it left me hoping that its story is crucial to the plot’s eventual resolution.

It probably won’t be, though, because the resolution will almost certainly involve the “real” Steve Rogers and/or a time-travelling Bucky Barnes having an extended fistfight in a magic pool of water. If only the real-life fascist presence in American government could be eliminated the same way–but, then, isn’t the point of portraying these things in fiction to eventually give us something resembling a cathartic end? I hope so, anyhow.

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17 comments on “Help Me Understand HydraCap! Matt on Secret Empire #0

  1. Zak Smith Apr 21, 2017

    Hey Matt, fellow Jew here.
    The long and short of it is:
    You’re not missing anything. A lot of people (mostly not Jewish) are making a big deal out of a standard recycled Kirby (also Jewish) plot in a comic not because they’re smarter than you or because of anything in the comic but because the movies made Cap popular and these days everything Marvel does that reaches the mainstream press has to have an activist Take so that fans can briefly have enough in common (we all care about diversity, even if we don’t care about Alpha Flight) to talk to each other on social media.

    People (including me) want to be sympathetic to people who have activist Takes on comics. The fact this Take is, on the face of it, incredibly silly and irrational, does cause some discomfort with smart fans who feel their brains and hearts pulling in different directions but I keep seeing it justified this way:

    Context and Tone

    In this theory, in the CONTEXT of Nick Spencer seeming kinda douchey plus the current US political situation plus Cap being popular plus Cap getting various sorts of Tumblr attention from new fans who don’t really understand how a comic book plot is but are good-hearted souls PLUS Sam-Wilson Cap being a plot point this move (which is exactly the kind of move Cap’s creators pulled all the time) seems “tone-deaf”.

    I think that Take unnecessarily dignifies the chicken-little critics and it’s kinda insulting to have my heritage used as a weapon against what’s in the end a pretty innocuous piece of popular art (in a medium whose cartoony tropes were largely invented by people with that same heritage), but that’s what I’ve heard from people I respect who are talking about Secret Empire like it matters at all,

  2. Robert G Apr 21, 2017

    I can’t help you out Matt. I’m with you 100%.
    Especially regarding the timing of the event. If not now, when? Timing seems perfect to me. It’s a reflection of the times. The corruption of Cap seems pertinent when a certain President and his entire administration can be corrupted by a hostile foreign power and the very essence of democracy jeapordized. I’m assuming fascist Cap will ultimately be defeated and restored as an American hero and democracy will once again prevail.
    I also started reading Captain America when he wasn’t Cap. He was Nomad, so him being anything other than Cap seems to be thematic to his character and storyline. In any event, this story is all going to be resolved and undone, and in a year, no one will remember or care, so yeah, I don’t get the criticism either.
    The argument concerning the ethnicity of his creators seems disingenuous as well. It would be an appalling perversion of the creators’ character if Cap were indeed to succeed as a fascist/nazis, but we know that won’t happen.
    I wouldn’t worry too much about it. It’s only comic books.

  3. Good post, Matt. I agree with nearly all of your points here, with one exception. That would be the timing and cultural context argument – “With America in the shape it’s in, this is a horrible time for Marvel to be doing this.”

    I agree with your point that now is exactly the right time to do a politically charged Captain America story, just as Englehart did with Watergate and Gruenwald did with Iran-Contra. The problem is, this isn’t that story – you know, the one where Cap runs up against corruption deep in the U.S. government and has no choice but to renounce his costumed identity, hop on a motorcycle, and go Find Himself and/or America for the next six to eighteen months.

    Instead, Cap is the corruption, which means he’s trapped in the role of being the antagonist in his own story. I don’t think this reflects some deep ideological failing on the part of the creators, just terrible timing – when the first installments of this story were released (much less plotted) I don’t think anybody took the prospect of Donald Trump in the White House seriously, and that possibly included Donald Trump. Nor had his alt-right/Actual Nazi supporters risen to the public’s notice the way they have now. So I don’t think the writers and editors realized just how on the nose their story would be or how badly it would miscast Cap for this moment, but he’s miscast just the same. Pretty sure most fans want to see Chris Evans right now. (Me, I’m holding out for the motorcycle.)

    • Mike Murdock Apr 21, 2017

      I think the biggest thing for this is the exploration of what can turn people towards radicalization. I’m more behind than most people in this event – I’ve read Steve Rogers 1-2 and Secret Empire 0. However, I think Steve Rogers 1 would absolutely be a comic of “how did Donald Trump become President” if, of course, the issue came out after he became President. But those exact issues predate President Trump and were firmly in pop culture when Nick Spencer wrote the story.

      The fact that Steve Rogers could become radicalized (albeit, by a cosmic cube) while still being able to consider himself an American is precisely what makes it so scary. It’s showing that radicalization isn’t limited to the fringes. Yes, Steve the Hero discovering the issue is a nice story (which has been done before), but, instead, we have Sam Wilson for that role while Steve Rogers represents America getting corrupted.

  4. Tomas Syrstad Ruud Apr 21, 2017

    If people can’t handle cartoony Nazi stand-ins with weird science sci-fi reality-altering plots, then they shouldn’t go on about their respect for Jack Kirby. I think that when this storyline is over the Marvel writers are going to have a much bigger problem on their hands, in figuring our how the real Steve Rogers relates to Trumps America.

  5. Thanks for writing out all the same questions/concerns I’ve had about the reaction to this storyline from Day 1, Matt. I think I’m a bit younger than you, but I also started reading Cap (in backissues) with the same storyline; he was out, and Walker was in.

    Then of course, there was the storyline with Skull LITERALLY being Steve’s clone and everything that entails. And Cap turning into Man-Wolf. And the Strucker Gambit. Streets of Poison. That damned exo-suit. And so on…

    Unfortunately, while I get that people are concerned about how this potentially “taints” Cap, I just don’t understand it. It’s a Story. Based on what little I’ve read of it (also reading via Unlimited), its perfectly fine and seems to have a very clear way in place to resolve the storyline and restore Cap to his former glory (with likely memories of the shit he pulled to give him added angst for a couple years). As far as original creator intent goes, I certainly can’t speak for them but Kirby himself did the Madbomb storyline. Just saying…

    Look, I’m South Asian, brown and have family who are (almost) all Muslims. I’m an atheist so I’m not only ostracized within some branches of my family but am also targeted by the racist shitbags who automatically assume the color of my skin lets them know what my religious/ideological beliefs are. I get that we’re living in a precarious time right now and need heroes to aspire to. I just don’t see how this prevents Cap from doing just that. If anything, I think this can help put him on a path where the character will have to (much like during the Nomad era) have to self-examine and find how his beliefs function in today’s society and whether he represents something that no longer exists (or is at least in trouble).

    Hopefully, as people explain to you how/why this is so abysmal (and not just a plot in a comic character’s decades-long continuity), I too can understand what I’m missing here. I really want to. I just feel like I’m trying to assembly a jigsaw whose pieces keep getting lost.

  6. Mike Loughlin Apr 22, 2017

    Along with what others have written, the idea that the Paragon of Goodness that Steve Rogers represents being corrupted is depressing. The position of Captain America can be corrupted along with the nation (as in Cap 332-350) but Steve Rogers is absolutely morally good and would rather quit being a symbol for the country than go along with corruption. He’s the hero’s hero in the Marvel Universe, one that the other characters (and readers, to a degree) look up to when everything is at its worst…

    And now he’s a Nazi. It’s like light and hope has gone out of a fictional reality that some readers go to for entertainment and, possibly, reassurance. I agree with you that “it’s just a story” but I can see why some readers are upset by it, especially those that see Steve Rogers as pure goodness in an impure world.

    I could be way off-base as I am not invested in this story, positively or negatively. , If they screw up Cassandra Cain again, on the other hand, my blood’s going to start boiling…

    • Matt Terl Apr 23, 2017

      Sure, Steve Rogers is now a Nazi and all hope is gone…but that’s where we’re at in the story. You’re SUPPOSED to feel that way.
      Your last point here is really interesting to me, because I think DC has done far more to screw up Barbara Gordon or Wally West (just to pick a couple of examples) than Marvel has to screw up Cap. Changes made as a result of in-universe story choices can always be undone (remember when Hal Jordan was an irredeemable mass murderer?), but changes driven by corporate directive and intermedia synergy…those can sometimes stick indefinitely.

      • Mike Loughlin Apr 23, 2017

        I think the audience is supposed to feel excited or intrigued about what happens next and the hopelessness is a byproduct. The problem being “good guy turns bad” isn’t enough to get the audience pumped so the story is overshadowed by the negative emotions.

        I agree that DC screwed some of its characters and concepts up in ways that make them unusable without ridiculous storytelling backflips (including disavowing their last reboot) but…
        well, they didn’t turn them into Nazis. I think there are different emotional triggers going on. “This plot is terrible and insulting, especially considering which character is being Nazi-fied” vs. “I’ve grown personally attached to Hal Jordan/ Stephanie Brown/ Wally West/ etc. & now that character is gone from my life/ blatantly discarded because DC/ Didio doesn’t care the way I do.” The former is reversible, the latter means you might not get to see your favorite anymore. It sucks, and feels more like a personal loss or (when done badly) an insult.

  7. Brendan O'Hare Apr 22, 2017

    I like most of the points you’ve made here Matt. A lot of the arguments against this arc are illogical, or inconsistent, or disproportionate. However I do think that they come from a legitimate place of unease, and I think two things you admit up front are important in understanding why it is a big deal to have Nazi Captain America.

    First, you don’t follow the Nick Spencer and Marvel discussion with the fans. They are dismissive, dodgy, and condescending. Even if that is the extent of the real world impact of this story, it sucks. They are constantly acting like they are the wokest of them all so they can sell some button-pushing comics. They are playing with fascist fire and not thinking it through.

    Second, you don’t find fictional Nazis to be worse than regular fictional bad guys, at least in the context of replacing or corrupting a superhero. It’s fine you don’t feel that way, and that you think Nazis have been watered down in pop culture, and that it’s hypocritical to say Nazi Cap is worse than, say, Raiders, but it’s also okay for other people to be offended. If you’re in search of understanding, you don’t have to be emotionally affected by a comic book to understand why others are.

    The big problem, to me, is the depressing factor and the risk/reward math that Marvel did to arrive at a big event based on Nazi Cap. We’ve had months of Nazi Cap. Most people don’t like reading that. And we are being strung along through five titles and a big event of his antics for what? For “hey guys, did you know that deep deep down, the real Steve Rogers isn’t really a Nazi?” I think it is safe to say that message was much clearer before. The light came before the tunnel.

    It’s a lot of Nazi Captain America for nothing. At best this is as bad as all those other good-guy-turns-bad stories, plus a flippant treatment of Nazism. It’s not the end of the world, but it is bad.

    • Matt Terl Apr 23, 2017

      Yeah, I can see your points here. Even from what little I’ve seen of the creator interviews, etc., there’s definitely a feeling that Marvel committed to this story (and, by extension, the Sam-as-Cap story, and Secret Empire, and everything else) on a massive scale and hasn’t deviated from it despite lukewarm-to-awful reader response.
      I hadn’t even fully realized it until your comment, but even my almost-defense of it here is just saying “Guys, it’s just a really mediocre story!”

      • Brendan O'Hare Apr 23, 2017

        I totally see your perspective too. It is just a story and it has been blown out proportion. Your examination is just much better than Marvel’s was.

  8. Levi P Tompkins Apr 23, 2017

    Matt, Thank you. I’ve been thinking this way for a while as well.

    Now I can see how this might not be to everyone’s taste. I mean, I have no intention of reading any of this, but thats far more because its a big Marvel crossover than the specific contents of the crossover.

    Captain America isn’t a nazi. Cap’s been magically turned into a nazi. Maybe that is worse than being turned generically bad, but regardless, funny comic magic has turned him into this thing, and before all is said and done funny comic book magic will turn him back.

    Perhaps what has happened is that Marvel’s constant insistence that every story is “Important” has bitten them in the ass. Comics no longer get to be long running yarns that go through ups and downs and wander into whatever plots the creators feel are novel that day. Storylines these days are supposed to feel like they have a sense of purpose, like every comic is an important bit of this shared mythology, instead of just that issue where Spider-Man punched the Beetle in the face.

    Maybe its the way Marvel seems to revel in the idea of this storyline as a thrilling thing we will all want to read, instead of framing it as “this is a terrible thing that has happened.” I have not followed this as closely as some because I honestly just can’t care that much, but none of the solicitation copy ive happened upon has talked about saving Captain America,

    The comics we grew up with might have a Cap that served an evil organization, but the point of those comics was that was wrong and we need to fight back against it.

    THe point of the modern Secret Empire seems to be more about look at this cool edgey idea thats IMPORTANT.

    Tony Stark was made into a real facist back in the original civil war. Not one created by a Cosmic Cube, but one created by short sighted writing. Itd didnt take all that long for him to come back from that (tho the movie helped). It won’t take long for Cap to come back from being a Nazi

  9. Matt for Hire Apr 23, 2017

    I just have to point out that this whole story is almost literally the ending to Marvel’s 2099 AD story back in the ’90s. In 2099 AD, it had started off that Doom took over the US government because he could do it better…and then he got ousted by a bad guy who used an improperly-unfrozen Cap whose brains were mush and was addicted to cocaine as a figurehead to turn the US into a fascist state. I’m not even kidding.

  10. It kinda struck me as much ado about nothing or some misplaced cause célèbre.

    Either way I assumed my antipathy was yet another indicator of how much I don’t care about the comicbook industry. Also, getting worked up about superhero characters seems naive to me.

    I like to read a ripping superhero yarn from time to time but I’m a grown-ass man. I’ve been through all of the alarm associated with having your favorite character violated by a bad run or even had to endure a terrible regime for a period of years…nothing last forever, especially in superhero comics.

    This controversy seems ripe for new fans, people who like to argue on the internet, activists, people who profit from clicks, and comicbook “journalists.”

  11. It’s funny, I have almost the same “eh” reaction as Matt to the whole storyline. I also started reading the series during the Gruenwald years and the Walker storyline, though I haven’t read much in recent years. I’m also Jewish, and agree that turning the real Cap into a Nazi would be horrendous, but aside from the odd timing of the storyline (when America is actually being taken over by a bunch of creepy neo-Nazis), the fact that the whole storyline seems kind of dumb and boring (been trying the Sam Wilson series on MU, and aside from some fun stuff in the beginning, it’s mostly been a tedious slog), and that Nick Spencer seems to act like kind of a dick on social media, I just don’t see why doing this goofy “Cosmic Cube creates alternative reality Steve Rogers” story is a big deal, as opposed to funny business as usual.

    I think the main reason is that it’s so self-evident that it will be reversed. I generally care when bad stuff happens to minor or supporting characters because sometimes those things stick, but Cap? C’mon, there is precisely zero chance that status quo lasts. As your fellow Savage Critic would say, it’s COMICS. I mean, not to be too cynical, but I was talking with my 10 year old daughter and her Marvel-savvy friend, and her friend noted that Captain America is not a good guy anymore. I told her, “Don’t worry, I’m sure they’ll switch him back soon, they always do.” I’m not going to read the comics where that happens even though I have a MU subscription, but only because I assume they will be stupid and boring in the typical crossover fashion and because life is short, not because I find the concept offensive.

  12. Voord 99 Apr 25, 2017

    I also don’t mind the storyline too much in and of itself. It’s a rather obvious twist on the original ’70s Secret Empire story: “What if the patriotic icon who’s secretly the bad guy isn’t the President – but Captain America himself?” In a very charitable mood, you might even (possibly with bribery) get me to accept that it’s about the tension between the way in which Steve Rogers’s image implicitly defines the archetypal American as white, blond, blue-eyed, with a generically WASPy name and the inclusive values that we want to see the character as embodying.

    But one thing that being on Marvel Unlimited makes obvious is that (whatever you think of Secret Empire in itself) it’s maybe not a good idea to make this the basis of your big crossover (whatever you think of the reliance on big crossovers) so soon after Civil War II (which on Unlimited is finishing up just as all the promotion for Secret Empire is ramping up).

    Civil War II centers, in a massively dumb move, on making Carol Danvers unlikeable by making her advocate for a position that the story explicitly equates to racial profiling. (It has managed the marvelous trick of making the original Civil War look subtle and nuanced in comparison.)

    Now we have Steve Rogers becoming an actual Nazi. I would cautiously suggest that this might feel more fresh if it came after a more traditional “The heroes come together to defeat the bad guy, yay!” sort of crossover.

    Maybe someone just has it in for characters whose last name ends in -ers? Carol Danvers, Steve Rogers, Scott Summers?

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