Yes…that is a Giant Nazi Robot from the Forties, with Hitler’s face, Super-Heiling. Superheroes tend to have to fight that kind of thing…it’s kind of in their roots.
I took the weekend off, so there wasn’t a Saturday post…mostly because I have been burning the proverbial candle at both ends. That being said, I’m also pretty glad I did…I finally saw “Captain America: Civil War” and at the same time, it seems like the internet has calmed itself down about the last page reveal in “Captain America: Steve Rogers” No. 1, which was just released this week.
For those of you who haven’t looked at a news feed in a few days, the internet went berserk with Outrage over the last page of that comic book. CNN even covered the story, as death threats were being made to the creative team, rampant accusations of anti-semitism abounded, and so forth. On the last page of the comic book, after chucking another superhero out of a moving airplane, Cap says “Hail Hydra”, suggesting that he is in fact a sleeper agent for the Hydra organization. It’s a fairly classic “last page reveal” idea for a comic book, giving the reader a shocking revelation that forces you to buy the next issue. If you have been reading comics at all, ever, you’ve seen that kind of thing.
Hydra, of course, is Marvel Comics’ “go to” terrorist organization, not unlike the Cobra organization of GI Joe. Historically, Hydra did in fact emerge in the sixties, from the leftover bad guys of the Nazi party…it’s what made them scary as bad guys, and gave them serious bad guy cred. Recently, Disney has pretty much scraped the Nazi serial numbers off of Hydra, and rebranded the organization as a sort of generic fascist/terror cell group. The first Captain America movie solidified that, where even the Nazis were terrified of Hydra.
So…yeah. That happened. Press releases were made, writers interviewed, and thousands of copies of a book that might not have done so well were sold. For all of the internet Outrage, the free press made the issue move like hotcakes, probably the opposite of what the outraged parties wanted to happen. It bothers me that the creative team got such an outpouring of crazy, because the fact is…they were just doing their jobs. Jobs told to them by Marvel editorial, and overseen by people above their pay grade.
More importantly….the same Free Speech that lets everyone with a Twitter account be unreasonable with them, actually protects their artistic right to do the story that they want to do. In fact, I’m pretty confused by a whole lot of the outraged comments. They seem to suggest that certain storylines shouldn’t be allowed, because they might have offensive content. That is directly in opposition to the point of free speech, and in fact…I’m offended by the @#$% said to the writers, and to Marvel…but respect the freedom to use the rights of the First Amendment in that fashion. It’s a dangerous kind of censorship that is being flirted with there, and I’m pretty glad Marvel is sticking to its guns.
It’s smart that they do that…they are making money off of it, and also, they completely eclipsed DC’s be event with this drama.
Some facts, though. It is not in the least “disrespectful” to Simon and Kirby, Cap’s Jewish creators, to make him a Hydra agent. It’s not anti-semitic. It’s a plot device, that’s all. I’m Jewish, and I’m not offended…so I would like to have a whole bunch of people who are not Jewish back off of being offended for me. Not cool.
More importantly, Stan Lee, who published Cap’s books for decades IS Jewish. He said at Mega-Con this weekend that he thought it was a great plot twist, and wished he had thought of it. He felt that it turned the whole idea on its head, and had the potential for some very solid storytelling in it. Kind of hard to argue with Stan Lee, on several levels.
I wish people would stop telling me what I should be able to read, and what should be allowed to be written. “Trigger warnings” are a dangerous precedent, I think. Sure…I don’t think that we should set out to offend, and I submit that we should treat our fellow people with respect. Those are real things. But William Shakespeare has the character of Shylock…should I be warning readers that they might be offended? Any competent course study on WWII will deal with the camps…shocking, horrible stuff. Should that content be edited? Or do we need to deal with the dark parts of our history and culture, because they exist?
I used those two examples specifically, because they are loaded, and address the spurious claim of anti-semitism in this Captain America plotline. Almost no one that is reasonable would suggest that we start editing Shakespeare for “offensive content”, or stop teaching about the Holocaust because these things might offend the sensibilities of the Jewish community. They are integral to the content, and you destroy the art, or the history, by removing them. At least those two examples are important to culture and history.
Captain America is a comic book. That’s all. The fact is…it isn’t great art, or significant history, as much as I love the medium. If you don’t like it, or it outrages you…you can just not buy it or read it.
Regardless of whether someone wants to read it or not…the creators can write it, draw it, and publish it. However they want. I think the access that we have today has given people a wrongheaded idea of how we interact with the people that create our entertainment. Yes…you can @#$% directly to the writer now, same day, in real time. He or she can also ignore you just as quickly, and do the story and content that they want. That’s freedom of speech, people.
I went out of my way with the Uber-Bot today, to highlight that. In the Uber-Bot’s right hand, is Cap, in hi new uniform, doing what I’m used to…straight up Nazi Fightin’. Could he be a Hydra double agent? Sure. But he’s going to help beat up that robot with Hitler’s face, because right here, I’M the creator. Maybe later, he’s going to a Hydra meeting, I don’t know. You’ll note that on top of his metal head is transgender Guy Gardner from Justice League 3001…who also created internet Outrage. Guy would also hate giant Nazi robots with Hitler’s face, so she seemed appropriate.
We also have an appearance of our hero’s college room mates, Firestar and Iceman. Iceman also created an internet furor, when he came out as gay. Here, he is hanging onto our hero’s legs for dear life, because Uber-Bots are tall, and the ground is hard. See…not only is this a roll call of recent Internet Outrage About Comics…but it’s an interesting statement. All of these characters exist in comics now…some serious diversity that didn’t exist even ten years ago. That’s hugely important. And…because my metaphors are always heavy handed…they are doing something that we pretty much expect any superhero to do, because that’s what they are…superheroes. Since their beginnings, superheroes have pretty much fought Nazis, giant and otherwise.
To anyone who doesn’t like the Uber-Bot, and that he’s Super-Heiling…I’m sorry, except that I’m not. You’re entitled to your opinion, certainly. I’m entitled to mine, and that involves the idea that if we take the truly horrible, the terrifying, and reduce it to the absurd…well, in a valuable way we have depowered that thing, we have “defanged the serpent” if you will. Free speech lets me draw all the Uber-Bots that I want, and all the crowds of superheroes to fight them.
Serious respect and good thoughts from me toward the writer of Captain America, Nick Spencer. You’ve had a tough week, and I hope that things haven’t gotten to hot. I think you’ve done a good job of keeping things in perspective, and have serious respect for how you’ve handled things. In fact, I’m pretty sure that out of that respect, I’ll be driving the content for the week in an unusual direction.
While drawing this, over the weekend I got a vital question: “Where does this Uber-Bot” come from? That’s easy.
See…a huge number of Nazi war criminals holed up in Brazil. So you go to any ATM machine in Brazil, enter 1 (800) HEIL as your PIN number, and a ninety year old war criminal shouts “Deutchland Uber Alles!” and launches one of these. It’s been a serious problem for Captain America, and super teams in general, for decades. This is the first Giant Nazi Robot launched at the Edu-Mountain, though….so there’s that.
So, for today, I’m getting off of my Free Speech Soapbox. Thanks for reading.