***This post was originally published in September 2016 on my author site.***
. . . and I’m even happy to admit it. Thrilled. Like most of the world, I was hasty in my initial judgment of the Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 twist. In some ways, I think that the shocking turn at the end of that issue could prove to be a brilliant move—precisely because it turns out that Steve’s Hydra loyalties aren’t a secret that has been hidden from Marvel fandom for 75 years. Instead, it turns out that his mind has been hijacked by Kobik and the Red Skull.
I’ll have much more to say about this in my book, A Clash of Heroes, but for now I’ll say that issues 2-4 of Captain America: Steve Rogers have (mostly) impressed me in the way that they have driven home the fact that this is still Steve Rogers that we’re talking about (heroic virtues and all), and that in hijacking Steve’s mind with a sentient Cosmic Cube, the Red Skull has not only taken over America’s most beloved patriotic superhero; he is coming damn close to hijacking the very notion of what it means to be an American (which often seems pretty close to the truth).
While I admire the simple brilliance of the twist and Spencer’s engagement with contemporary politics in both of his Captain America books, I still take issue with the way in which some of the politics descends into cartoonishness. Perhaps the best example of this comes in Captain America: Sam Wilson #12, where Spencer seems to take a swipe at Texans (I’m not a Texan, so I don’t think that I’m being overly-sensitive here).
Cartoonish political jabs aside, I have to revise my earlier judgment (as, I assume, many of us have done). I’m interested (and a little scared) to see where Spencer is going to take his Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson story. He’s promised that what’s coming is going to shake the whole Marvel universe to its core, and (even though we’ve heard that kind of talk before) I’m inclined to believe him.