So the first issue of Steve Rogers: Captain America, I think the heat from the firestorm raging on the Internet is contributing to the global warming crisis.
While I have not read the comic, there is a pretty big reveal at the end: Steve Rogers has been a Hydra sleeper agent almost his entire life.
I'll let that sink in a little.
Steve Rogers, the sickly. scrawny young man who volunteered for the top-secret Super Soldier program of the US Army, the kid who hates bullies and just wanted to help the war effort, and as Captain America, the only successful recipient of the Super Soldier Serum, he punches out Hitler a full year before the United States enters the war, was actually aiding and abetting the enemy the whole time.
There are plenty of blog Twitter and Facebook posts on this with most on the side of this being a heretical turn and others asking what's the big deal?
One pretty compelling post I saw put the scandal in the historical context of comics in general and Captain America specifically. The discussion pointed out that this reveal invalidates who Steve Rogers is, and treats the Holocaust as nothing more than an attention grabber, "clickbait," to use the author's expression. Again, as I have not read the first issue (and am not certain that I want to), this could well be hyperbole.
But what if it isn't?
And what if the writers and editors were doing something that they may not realize themselves?
In an interview with Entrainment Weekly, writer Nick Spencer says "Captain America is not just one of the most recognizable faces in the Marvel Universe. He’s an inspiring figure, somebody who brings people together. Everybody here obviously gets that. What you hope is that this story, in its own very different way, highlights those things and only continues to elevate the character in importance, and only serves to illustrate how powerful that symbol is."
Mostly, I believe that Captain America is and has been a symbol of what America should be. But what if this darker turn illustrates more what America really is.
Don't get me wrong: I am an American Exceptionalist. I believe in the promise of America, that when its right, there is nothing else like it and it should be a shining beacon of hope to the rest of the world. That is the essence of Captain America's power as a symbol.
But by portraying Cap as a secret Hydra agent, I believe that there may well be a message that Cap is really revealing the hidden parts of the American Dream, the parts we don't show to company, lest they get the "wrong ideas" about us.
But what if, instead of a symbol for the potential of America, this new interpretation of Steve Rogers is as a symbol for how America truly is: Outwardly displaying virtue, loyalty, perseverance, and moral righteousness, but inwardly corrupt, divisive and fearful.
Currently, we are embroiled in one of the most divisive, bitter presidential campaigns in my memory. For the first time, the leading candidates for each party carry an unfavorable rating in the most trusted polls. In other words, neither candidate is looked upon favorably by the voters. On the one hand, we have a corporate-natured tax-evading, misogynistic xenophobe, playing to the deepest most visceral fears humans of all stripes experience. On the other hand, we have the ambitious wife of a former president who routinely plays fast and loose with the rules, is under scrutiny for her use of an unsecured private email server for government business and who is consistently viewed as untrustworthy by a large number of the electorate.
The American Exceptionalism I adhere to will proclaim that America is the best possible place, and then use that as a promise, not a boast, to the rest of the world. We make this promise, and then use it to critically examine ourselves and judge how we measure up, not against any other nation but our own ideals, and founding documents. Where we fail it is not because of our ideals, but because we have failed to hold ourselves accountable to those ideals.
This version of Captain America exposes the ugly side of America. I hope he goes away soon, and the Cap that I and millions of others look up to comes back. Not because I want to hide our failings, but because I, and I presume others as well want a symbol that will inspire us to be and do our best.
So, the big reveal is that when Kobik, the living embodiment of an infinity stone restored Steve Rogers and he once again assumed the mantle of Captain America, his reality was "reshaped" by Kobik, thereby making it possible for him to be a Hydra deep sleeper agent. I still think that the wrtiers are playing a dangerous game by even considering this a possibility, but I do apologize if this post seemed reactionary.