“Even though the United States wasn’t in the war, we read the newspapers. We knew what was happening in Europe, and we were outraged by the Nazis — totally outraged. We thought it was a good time for a patriotic hero.” — Joe Simon, Joe Simon: My Life in Comics
Bit of a stunner in the comic book world today, as Marvel has revealed in the first issue of its new series, Captain America: Steve Rogers, that Cap is, and always has been, an agent of Hydra. Hydra is a terrorist organization closely associated with the Red Skull, Captain America’s nemesis and one of the greatest villians in the Marvel Universe. Oh, and he’s a Nazi. A Nazi trained by Adolf Hitler. So yeah, bit of a shocker, considering in the comics Captain America was created by the U.S. government to fight the Red Skull and, you know, this:
This is clearly another gimmick by Marvel, a comic book company that in recent years has rebooted its characters and relaunched its titles for sales purposes so often it’s difficult to keep track. Yet for a company that has made a bunch of moves to diversify its characters (female Thor, female Muslim Ms. Marvel, black hispanic Spider-Man) taking a character created during World War II by two Jewish artists (Joe Simon and Jack Kirby) and aligning him with a terrorist organization headed by a couple of Nazis (Red Skull and Baron Strucker) seems like one retcon too many. I guess we can take solace in the fact that Marvel will either reveal this was all some sort of triple agent ploy by Captain America to infiltrate Hydra, or they’ll just kill off the series and start all over again.
“But most of all, the pleasure that Joe derived from administering this brutal beating was intense and durable and strangely redemptive. At odd moments over the past few days, he had consoled himself with the thought that somehow a copy of this comic book might eventually make its way to Berlin and cross the desk of Hitler himself, that he would look at the painting into which Joe had channeled all his pent-up rage and rub his jaw, and check with his tongue for a missing tooth.” — Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay