No one can dispute the fact that words are powerful. Spoken words. Written words. Even words spoken by a beloved comic book character. With two little words, the comic community got itself in an uproar. Those two words: "Hail Hydra." The words themselves have been spoken before by many, people we expected to say it, and we were ok with it. This time though, we were shocked, and then offended. The "controversy", if you want to call it that, revolves around who said it most recently. This time it was Captain America himself who uttered this phrase, "apparently" betraying everything we thought we knew about him and siding with the enemy.
As a self-professed "comic geek"
For those who don't know, I've collected comics on and off (more on than off ... much to my wife's dismay) since I was 7. Conservatively speaking, I probably currently own somewhere in the neighborhood of 12,000 - 15,000 comics. Because they were the first books I was introduced to, I'm a Marvel Comics fan. I've read DC comics, I've read Image comics, but I've always come back to Marvel and preferred them. I have both the Avenger's logo and the X-Men logo tattooed on my left forearm. Suffice it to say, I'm a fan (possibly a fan-boy).
So when it comes to this "apparent controversy" I have quite a bit of history and experience to look back on. Here's my perspective:
- Just in the time I've been collecting comics I've seen Captain America (along with other heroes) "die" on more than one occasion.
- I've seen Captain America (along with other heroes) be "replaced" more times than I can count.
- I've seen Marvel move in directions with multiple heroes and villains as the've apparently switched allegiances.
- I've seen good writers and artists do things with my favorite characters that I wish they wouldn't have done.
Here's what I've learned
There are several lessons I've learned over the years that relate to this:
- Rarely is something as clear as it seems from the final panel of any given book. Yes, the writers of any good comic book wanted to create a "shock" or a "climax" at the end of each book. But we have to ask ourselves the question, "Why?" The simple business reason is they want to you to buy the next next book.
- Rarely does the last panel give you the full story. There is always a reason for the shock or climax. Let the story be told in its totality before jumping to any conclusions.
- Rarely (if ever) does a "seemingly" significant change in a character's canon remain permanent. Steve Rogers will always be the original Captain America. Logan will always be the original Wolverine. Peter Parker will always be the original Spider Man. By the end of the story, the old adage, "the more things change, the more they stay the same," holds true.
How Should We Respond
Is it right for us, as the reader, to respond in outrage? Maybe. At the very least we had a emotional response. Which is what any writer really wants, to have the reader feel something.
Is it right for us to call for a boycott of a particular company? Maybe. But it seems a bit extreme (and a lot premature) when we don't have all the information.
Is it right for us to jump on social media and threaten the life of the writer and his family over a creative decision? Absolutely not! This is immaturity and false bravado at its worst.
At the end of the day, this is a character in a comic book. While we all have our beloved characters, this writer has a story to tell. I'm personally interested in seeing where it goes to see how he resolves this "apparent controversy".