This week I thought I’d try something different. There’s been a big shake up in the Marvel Comics Universe this week, that while I wanted to write about it, I’m not super qualified to so Jonathan Fisher (aka TheJollyWriter) has graciously stepped in for me.
It’s been four days now since I heard the news that Captain America is a Hydra agent, and has been all along. Even though, this being comics, it is unlikely to be a permanent plot point, and will likely be reversed soon, it would have been far better to not have written the issue to begin with, to not have crossed this bridge at all.
Mark Hughes has published an article in Forbes explaining that fans are wrong to overreact to this news, and that it’s actually Not That Bad a story-telling plot. In that entire article, however, I saw no evidence of Mr. Hughes actually addressing why we’re angry.
Sure, Hydra was created in the 1960s to be a kind of stand-in for the cold war. Vaguely, but sure. However, in 1941, when the first comic was published, Captain America punched Adolf Hitler in the face. He stood clearly against fascism and fanaticism. He stood for what is good and honorable in people, and was an ideal for how we all could strive to be better.
I don’t care that this is a plot twist. I don’t mind that it’s messing with the timeline. I don’t even mind that this is supposed to be a social commentary about the State of Affairs in the U.S. and is going to address our latest headlines “just like Cap did in 1941.”
So, Mr. Hughes, a few corrections:
I’m not angry simply because Cap is Hydra. I’m also angry because this entire stunt is geared specifically to sell comic books. Nothing more: it’s cheap marketing to stir up pre-orders. I’m angry because your plot twist flies directly in the face of why Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Al Avison and Al Gabriele created Cap.
Aligning Captain America with an organization specifically created to be worse than the Nazis is both incredibly insulting and viciously wrong. Hydra was created in the 60s to be a stand-in for the Soviets, but that’s not what Hydra represents today. They’ve evolved to be a kind of embodiment of both terrorism and Nazis, and incorporate the worst of both. In the modern canon, Hydra is an agency that even Hitler was like, “nah son I don’t wanna play with you.” How bad does a group of people have to be that the man who coldly calculated the extermination of millions in the name of would domination doesn’t want to be associated with them?
How much clearer can it be that this is an egregious insult to align cap with Hydra, no matter how brief the alignment will be.
My favorite (that’s sarcasm) part of that response article is how we’re wrong to be up in arms over this. We’re supposedly wrong for being as Marvel continues its ongoing trend of antisemitism in this comic? We’re wrong for being angry at the fact that non-Jewish people are telling us that antisemitism is okay, and we should just accept it and go on. We’re wrong for our anger. That’s what we’re being told.
Non-Jews are saying we’re out of line for being angry that making Cap a Nazi perverts the reason he was created. Not only that, but it insults the legacy of his creators. Non-Jews telling us that we’re wrong for being angry is prejudiced at the least and racist at the worst.
You do not have our history. You cannot understand the generational pain of remembering that 80% of our culture and people was obliterated in the span of five years and the struggle to find a place of safety. Don’t forget that America refused Jewish refugees before and during the war. So did England, and many other so-called ‘enlightened’ countries.
There are no longer quotas of Jewish students to fill in university, but antisemitism is not dead. Not by any measure. So, you do not get to tell me that I have no right to be angry. My family did not survive the death camps during WW2 only to discover that Captain America wished they hadn’t.
Lastly, it IS racist to tell me that an attack on Jewish heritage (the comic book industry was built on the backs of Jewish artists and writers, often at risk to themselves) is not something I get to be mad about. Clearly, Mr. Hughes, you don’t remember the death-threats that Kirby, Simon, Gabriele and Avison received when they started Captain America. The ones that provoked the Mayor of New York at the time to specifically deploy protection for their offices.
You are not Jewish. You do not get to define the scope of my resentment in this matter.