Friday, May 27, 2016

RE: Captain America Has Been a Hydra Sleeper Agent All Along???!!!

Helmed by Geoff Johns, the DC Rebirth relaunch, the latest attempt to clean up revamp the DC universe, kicked off this week.  And it has several jaw-dropping revelations and status quo changes.  The most notable ones are:
  • Darkseid is now a baby.
  • Wonder Woman has a twin brother.
  • New 52 Superman dies.  Pre-New 52 Superman, who has been secretly living in the New 52 universe, will take his place.
  • Batman had been actually fighting with three different Jokers all these years.
  • Pre-New 52 Wally West – the best Flash ever – has been part of the Speed Force all this time.  Everyone in the DC universe has forgotten him, and he visits some people to remind them of the Pre-New 52 universe as well as to warn them of the unknown imminent threat that has been manipulating reality behind the scenes.  Unfortunately, no one remembers him, even the love of his life, Linda Park.  But in a powerful moment, just as his existence is fading, his mentor Barry Allen remembers him and pulls him back to reality.
  • The unknown threat that has been responsible for the New 52 all along?  The Watchmen!   Yep, that Watchmen – or the nigh-omnipotent Dr. Manhattan, at least.
Still, even all of those put together can’t hold a candle to Marvel’s shocking bombshell in Captain America: Steve Rogers #1
What the – ??! It seems Steve Rogers’ mother was recruited by Hydra while he was still a young boy.  Hence, he could have been raised by Hydra and has been its agent even before he became Captain America!

Right from the start, I never liked Sam Wilson being Captain America.  Falcon-Cap didn’t make sense to me, and he never grew on me.  Thus, I was happy when it was announced that Steve Rogers is back as Captain America.  Sam and Steve sharing the same superhero name never bothered me.  Why not?  There are other superheroes out there that share a common name.  For example, there are currently three Spider-Men in the Marvel Universe.  I also didn’t mind that Steve didn’t get his iconic round shield back from Sam, but instead chose to wield a different one, mirroring the shape of his very first shield.

But if the cost of Steve regaining his Captain America condition is to retcon him as a friggin’ Hydra sleeper agent, I would rather have him remain an old man.

Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 floored me.  And angered me in a way that I’ve never been since Amazing Spider-Man #700, where Otto Octavius and Peter Parker swapped bodies, the latter dying in Otto’s body while the former taking for himself the identity and life of Peter and Spidey.  Afterwards, I had a unique love-hate experience with the Spider-Ock (or SpOck) storyline.  There was a part of me that enjoyed how the unique premise was playing out as a narrative, but on the other hand, a part of me loathed the sacrilege being done to the quintessence of Spider-Man, my most favorite comic book character.

In the same way, retconning Captain America this way is an intriguing, astounding concept.  Seriously, in a sense, there’s something exciting about Captain America’s kayfabing through the years.  There could be a terrific story that can come out of it.  But on the other hand, it’s a blasphemous thing to do to this iconic character.  It’s an incredibly high price to pay for telling a great story.  This is basically making Captain America – who is supposedly to be the personification of American values – a Nazi!  It’s as baffling, depressing, sickening, and appalling as the idea of Donald Trump representing conservatives (or worse, if he actually wins the election, the United States itself).

Moreover, Marvel is in a lose-lose situation here.  If the reason for Cap behaving this way isn’t what it seems to be – that this Cap isn’t the real Cap, or he’s just being made to think that he’s a Hydra sleeper agent by the Red Skull, or he was just messed up when the reality-bending Kobik returned him to his prime self, or he’s not really a Hydra agent and we are just being tricked by the narrative to believe that he is in order to create a buzz about it (which is exactly what we are doing), or  some other reason – then it’s simply awful, cheap writing.  It’s equally despicable.  I can’t think of any satisfying – much more, gratifying – way Marvel can rationalize this.

Fans are understandably upset.  Even Chris Evans expressed his displeasure.  And, again, I’ve never been this bitter since SpOck.  But I like to think I’ve also learned my lesson about comicbook storytelling after SpOck.  I hated it passionately while it was ongoing, but when it was finally done, evaluating it in its entirety, I eventually consider it a brilliant Spider-Man arc.  So I might be fuming now, but I’m also on “let’s wait and see” mode on where all of this “Captain America: Agent of Hydra” concept  – or “HydraCap”, as others have labeled it – will go.

Also, a remarkable thing about SpOck is that it compelled me to follow it closely and write at lengths about it.  It was an experience that I never had before and never have had since.  Well, maybe until now.  HydraCap might turn out affecting me the same way that SpOck did.  So, let’s see...

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