Steve Rogers Captain America #1
By Hervé St-Louis
May 29, 2016 - 22:38
Publisher(s): Marvel Comics
Writer(s): Nick Spencer
Penciller(s): Jesus Saiz
Inker(s): Jesus Saiz
Colourist(s): Jesus Saiz
Letterer(s): Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist(s): Jesus Saiz, Steve Epting, Jim Steranko. Paul Renaud, Jefrey Veregge, Skottie Young
Steve Rogers, the original Captain America is back working for S.H.I.E.L.D. and hunting Baron Zemo and his goons. Zemo plans to wage a war against the Redskull who has revived Hydra as an American-based neo-Nazi group recruiting poor white men who fell through the cracks. Captain America wants to stop one of these poor white men. But does he really believe that Hydra is wrong here?
By now the comic Internet has already broken down because of the last page revelation that Captain America was, from what can be read, a sleeper agent for Hydra all along. Following a silly trap door predicament that saw Baron Zemo threaten to let Captain America fall from a flying ship, Captain America got rid of one of his allies and hail allegiance to Hydra.
Instead of being shocked by this, I’ll say that this story was long overdue. Captain America is the Aryan prototype that Hitler sought for Germany and his Third Reich. He’s a gigantic perfect specimen and he happens to be blond with blue eyes. Yeah, he’s pretty much an Aryan klansman and its seems weird that Marvel never explored that aspect of the character. He uses the very same ideology that Hitler promoted to become the symbol of the United States…
Unfortunately, I will not give writer Nick Spencer more credits than he deserves. I doubt that he has thought about this aspect of Captain America through and that he really wants to explore how a scrawny sick boy who by all means should have been on Pat Buchannan’s vanguard managed to fool everybody with his liberal ideals and really hid that he was a racist white supremacist.
The Hydra that we see in these pages is more white supremacist than a technology-driven terrorist organization. I would really want Spencer to explore what it means for Steve Rogers to have escaped a similar predicament as the young man he attempts to rescue early in the story but I know that I will be disappointed. The story is first-level flash and the reaction it tries to generate online is reflective of that first-level buzz. This is Marvel Comics doing Buzzfeed.
There are serious historical questions that were not answered in this story which makes me think that Spencer doesn’t quite grasp the Pandora’s Door he has opened. The Hydra recruiter that meets Steve Rogers and his mom in 1926 appeared the same year that Hitler published Mein Kampf. Are the two related or just a fluke? Again, I don’t think that Spencer understands the toys he is playing with since Hydra would have had to wait a bit before it got inspired by Hitler’s book.
Marvel has tried to distance Hydra from Nazi Germany in its films and could be doing the same in the comics. Yet, for the story that Spencer is crafting to feel genuine and not just a trick, he has to use the historical material that is at hand. He probably won’t and the storyline will never truly explore what it meant for a poor Depression-era boy like Rogers to grow up in the United States when issues of privilege or even the Civil Rights did not question the white man’s place in society.
How will Spencer link the mentality of a poor Depression boy with that of a destitute Millennial or Boomer who can’t quite get ahead in a world where the rules have changed? And why is a man who has travelled across the universe and accepted the possibility of death when he faced a god like Thanos during the Infinity Gauntlet even allows himself to keep silly prejudices and fears about his place in the world?
I want to see more of this Aryan Captain America. It could be a subversive comic that re-imagines the character in the midst of the American cultural wars that have created presidential candidate Donald Trump. I so wish that Spencer crafted such a story. But I don’t think his bosses at Marvel Comics and Disney would allow him or that he himself understands that Captain America really has always been a white supremacist, although he was created by Jews.
Why I think Spencer will come short is because of the silly trap door plot that he uses in this comic. It felt like something from the 1960s. It was a silly old Marvel trap door plot the likes of which I have not read in years.
The one salvation of this comic is Jesus Saiz’s work. His Captain America is solid and real. There are dimensions to his characters and they are pleasant to look at. There is an Art Deco feel to the dimension that he gives his characters that fits the story of a white supremacist. Art Deco always makes white supremacists look better.
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