Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Steve Rogers: Captain America #1
While DC's Rebirth was breaking all sorts of sales records last week, it was this issue that stole all of the press. Steve Rogers: Captain America #1 is perhaps the most controversial comic since that variant issue of Batgirl in which the Joker was holding the heroine hostage a la the Killing Joke. Now I normally stay away from spoilers but the big reveal of this issue has been so hyped, you'd have to have been living under a rock to miss the twist. So, you've been warned…
On the very last page it's revealed that Steve Rogers is a secret member of the terrorist cell, HYDRA!!! Both series writer Nick Spencer and edited Tom Brevoort both claim that Steve has been a member since before becoming the Senteil of Liberty in 1940. HYDRA Steve’s not a clone, not a Skrull, and not an imposter.
Well, with the stunning final page and the assurance that this is not a sales ploy, the internet did what is does best in these situations- it lost it’s collective sh*t! Nick Spencer received death threats. Fans vowed to disown Marvel and never acknowledge this version of Captain America. And everyone from Stan the Man to the man himself, Chris Evans weighed it on the twist ending.
So what about me- the Madman who has been a Captain America fan ever since he can remember? Cap and Superman have vied for the title of my #1 superhero of all-time since I could read and I would go back and forth all the time. For the past decade, Cap has held that role firmly without fail and the reason why is simple- his very essence has been unwavering.
Since September 11, Superman has been portrayed more as a god amongst men that as the living embodiment of the American immigrant- seeking truth, justice, and the American Way! But Steve Rogers no matter when he abandoned his role as Captain America to become Nomad: The Man Without a Country or was suddenly turned into a physically old man- he was an American patriot through and through.
So, what’s my take on the revelation that Steve Rogers is a traitor? Well, let’s review the plot momentarilly.
Recently having regained his youth, Steve Rogers shares the title of Captain America with the Falcon. A SHIELD prison facility had a massive break-out and Steve and his girlfriend, Sharon Carter, seek to bring the super-villain prisoners back into custody. Amongst the villains is the nefarious Baron Zemo, whose pretty pissed that the Red Skull has become the defacto leader of HYDRA during his imprisonment.
Meanwhile, flashbacks to the 1920s show the level of abuse Steve and his mother endured at the hands of the alcoholic Mr. Rogers. If not for the help of a mysterious woman named Elisa, who knows how far Steve’s father may have went on this latest bender. She eventually takes the two out for dinner as it is evident that the mother and child haven’t eaten in days.
While these events unfold in the past, Cap catches up with Zemo who is holding an important scientist hostage. Zemo escapes but not before the Captain America wannabe, Jack Flag stumbles in on Steve. Steve apologizes to Flag and then kills him (or least we are made to think he did.) Just as Steve reveals that he is a HYDRA agent, in the past we see that Elisa is a member of HYDRA and invites Mrs. Rogers and Steve to the next community meeting.
My theory is that this Elisa person is manipulating the timeline. I would bet money that Elisa is Madame Hydra and she went back in time to make Steve Rogers a minion of the terrorist cell. My reasoning: Elisa keeps mentioning that Steve will be someone important one day. So, it’ll play out for a while that Steve’s a baddie and then Sharon and Falcon and maybe Bucky will have to go back in time to save the day. Thus Steve both isn’t and is a HYDRA agent at the same time. But again, that’s just my theory.
When I first learned of Steve’s betrayal, I must admit, I was shell shocked. I struggled with it long and hard and then I decided to stop listening to the masses and read the book. This was one of the best Cap stories since Ed Brubaker was in charge during the Winter Soldier storyline. I was impressed with it, but I was also a bit scared of the story.
The Red Skull’s rhetoric reads just like posts linked to my Facebook feed from angry family members and friends- immigrants are taking our jobs, Europe’s overrun by refugees, the government doesn’t want to protect us. Basically, everything the Nazi villain stands for, the Republicans have been blamed of doing. I’m not going to choose sides or attack one political party over another. No, my point of being scared because of this issue is that Americans are angry- not just Republicans, but Democrats too. The whole nation seems ready to fall apart and when a great source of escapism like comics, is so blurred with reality, well to me, it means that things really are in dire straits.
I’m looking forward to see where this series goes next. Cap is still my all-time fav for now. But time will tell if Steve Rogers remains a HYDRA agent or not. Sadly, there are too many so called ‘fans’ out there who forget that stories in comics aren’t solved in 32-pages anymore but over the course of several months. Be patient folks, the best of Steve Rogers may be yet to come!
Rating: 10 out of 10 stars.