This blog post is full of spoilers for the most recent issue of Captain America: Steve Rogers. This is a monthly comic that is expected to play out over the course of the next year and is not directly connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Ready for the spoilers and the fury? Here we go.
Well, they've gone and done it again. In the name of drama and selling comic books, Marvel has let Nick Spencer retcon Captain America into a lifelong HYDRA sleeper agent. That's right, the man created by Jews to punch Hitler in the face and shame the US for our lack of involvement in Europe in WWII has been secretly a Nazi all along! Psych!
As has been pointed out by other writers, I understand that "mysteriously evil all along, but don't worry we'll fix it" twists are common common book tropes.* I understand that Cap won't be evil forever. And Captain America isn't even really evil. I have been reliably informed that Red Skull is implanting false memories and/or reality has been warped by the tesseract which is now embodied as a young girl. So the character that the MCU has taught me to love,** who stands up as the image of what America should be has now been warped beyond recognition by outside powers. Which, yes, has happened before.*** Superman's been evil, **** as have any number of good characters in the history of comics. Retcons and massive plot twists and life model decoys and secretly a clone and on and on and on. But something is different about this.
Most of what's bothering both me and Ariela has already been well articulated by others. Ursula Vernon had a detailed rant on twitter and Jessica Plummer wrote an article for PANELS that sum up both parts of what bother us. Ursula writes about the nature of heroes and what stories we want to hear from them. Plummer talks about retconning a character created by Jews in response to Nazis as having been a Nazi all along. They've said it better than I realistically can, and you should read their words.
As Jewish geek content creators, we feel that this is spitting in the faces of Jack Kirby and Joe Simon. Which brings me to the point that Heidi MacDonald made. Yes, Kirby drew Cap saluting to Hitler while being controlled by Red Skull. But that was a choice Kirby made, and it was resolved quickly. It didn't rewrite the entire history of the character for however long this story plays out. We feel that this was a shameless ploy and publicity stunt it could have been done in many other ways that didn't require the erasure of all that Captain America has ever meant to those he has stood up for.
And lastly, for those counseling us to "let the story play out" and to "not judge a 240 page book by the first 40 pages" - you mean to tell me that you've never once picked up a book and put it down after flipping through the first chapter? You've never found a doorstop size novel offensive before you've gotten through 20 some odd pages? I have. I've taken books back to the library before finishing them. I never did make it through the first season of Game of Thrones. I've returned audiobooks before finishing them. Books have not left the bookstore after I've decided they didn't need to come home with me. That's my right as a media consumer - I can decide what I find offensive and choose not to read or endorse it.
*I also think that they're lazy tropes, but they're part of the comic book landscape and thus are valid in and of themselves.
**Yes, I'm more of a movie fan than a strict comics fan. That doesn't invalidate my position one teensy bit.
***I'll get to the Heidi MacDonald point in a minute.
****I really shouldn't bring Superman up in this discussion, as it will cause me to go off on an even longer rant about stripping the Jewish roots from comic book characters and why Zac Snyder shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a comic book franchise with a camera and script... Oh look, I've done that. Maybe another time.