Secret Empire #0 reveals that he was simply returned to his true base
April 20, 2017 7:27 PM   Subscribe

A fundamental change to the history of World War II in Marvel Comics "Secret Empire #0 reveals a flip on that narrative. As we’re to understand it now, in the “true” history of the Marvel Universe, the Allies actually lost World War II. The only reason no one remembers this is because the Allies used a Cosmic Cube to change reality, warping it into a false history where they won and Captain America was always the Sentinel of Liberty and representative of the American dream." (previously on MeFi, when diversity was blamed for the poor sales)
posted by cendawanita (153 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
"Kirby in the High Castle"
posted by rmd1023 at 7:35 PM on April 20 [7 favorites]


Jesus, way to rub our noses in it. I can see this being interesting as a commentary on the idea that America was always crypto-fascist, that everything we've told ourselves since WWII is a comforting lie, but is that really what I'm looking at here? Or is it time for the darkity-darkpants comics writing of the '90s to come back along with the rest of the 20-year nostalgia cycle? At least we had Sandman then.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:36 PM on April 20 [21 favorites]


Well, my days of not buying current Marvel Comics have certainly come to a middle.

More seriously, this is what you get from decades of popular culture using Nazis as villains and hyping up the technological advances and early successes of the German side of the war; the reality that fascism, especially Hitler's brand of it, turned out to be unsustainable and self-destructive at almost every level is lost.

And instead, we get stories that claim to treat the fascists like villains, but actually propagandize how cool and tough and powerful they are.

Add in Nick Spencer's well-established political tone-deafness and you have a turkey for the ages.
posted by kewb at 7:37 PM on April 20 [63 favorites]


> the reality-warping power of the Cosmic Cube

This is the sort of thing that drove me crazy when I read a lot of superhero comics; what's the point of getting invested in a narrative if the writers can come along later and deus ex machina it out of existence? Story-wise, it's one very small step above "it was all a dream!"
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:41 PM on April 20 [16 favorites]


Yeah, that's exactly what Marvel needs: a message that the US has belonged to the Nazis for the last fifty or hundred years, and the guy we respected as upholding liberty, justice, equal rights for all, was actually a secret fascist.

Or - as suggested in the comments - that's just the setup for the amazing plot twist!!!! that will appear in later issues.

1) The tumblr memes will be epic.
2) The sales will also be epic - as in, this may be the final straw that triggers the "Going Out of Business" sale at the last few local comic shops that have managed to stick around.

It's really amazing how, in an era when tv shows have embraced the 15-epsisode story arc because they know viewers are marathon-watching, comics have decided "hey, every dozen issues or so, let's throw out everything that made people love this series!"
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 7:43 PM on April 20 [16 favorites]


Who did this? A wizard?
posted by thelonius at 7:44 PM on April 20 [6 favorites]


Yeah, that's exactly what Marvel needs: a message that the US has belonged to the Nazis for the last fifty or hundred years

Well, it's exactly what Alex Jones needs! And that dude's going through a rough patch right now.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:48 PM on April 20 [2 favorites]


Anyone who hasn't read The Problems With Comics should do so, just to see just how desperate the Big Two are to move books, and how bizarre it is that they have trouble doing so when the movie adaptations are breaking box office records regularly. No plot or marketing gimmick is too shopworn to be trotted out in an attempt to boost sales and/or set up a big event; it was true for the Spider-Man/Doctor Octopus mind switch, and it's true for this.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:49 PM on April 20 [7 favorites]


"Add in Nick Spencer's well-established political tone-deafness and you have a turkey for the ages."

I dunno, a continuity where Nick Spencer's always been a Nazi seems plausible.
posted by klangklangston at 7:51 PM on April 20 [22 favorites]


"Kirby in the High Castle"

"The Empire never ended" is the phrase you're looking for, I think.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:51 PM on April 20 [15 favorites]




welp congratulations marvel, you cane up with a shittier storyline than "one more day"
posted by entropicamericana at 8:03 PM on April 20 [25 favorites]


And because these are for comic store employees, they are only available in L and XL sizes.

That link says, "And because these are for comic store employees, they are only available in L and XL sizes." I honestly can't tell if that's a mean joke or an actual marketing decision by someone who assumes that women or slim men cannot possibly be working in comic shops to a statistically significant degree.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:06 PM on April 20 [9 favorites]


Meanwhile, Marvel wants comic store employees to wear Hydra t-shirts.
And because these are for comic store employees, they are only available in L and XL sizes.
Oh, snap!
posted by zakur at 8:07 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]


how desperate the Big Two are

DC has done a number of Crisis-type titles now where violence against women is the capstone of the entertainment. this is the company that invented the girlfriend in a fridge, after all.

Marvel seems to want to make industrial-military authoritarianism cool and relevant again. To the extent that all of their vendors should cosplay terrorists.

I knew there was a reason I stopped reading the majors back when. Identity Crisis was icky. Worse than that. And I also wasn't imagining the crypto-fascist underpinnings of the "You think this stands for France!" Marvel reboot. The one that's now bleeding into their cinematic universe too.
posted by bonehead at 8:09 PM on April 20 [6 favorites]


The only way this will be even remotely acceptable is if, once this "reality" reasserts itself, it immediately collapses because fascism is unsustainable and so they wouldn't have been able to make it 20 years out of WW2, and that serves as yet another way to rebuild the Marvel universe.

But the writer is Not That Smart so I assume that it's going to be something that will be immediately retconned once he loses the book, if Ryan North isn't immediately retconning it in the pages of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.

But I'm not the target audience for this because I'll never buy comics at a comics shop.
posted by Merus at 8:14 PM on April 20 [4 favorites]


Ugh, fuck this.
posted by Fizz at 8:16 PM on April 20 [8 favorites]


I know I should have more detailed analysis, but I just fucking hate them right now. This is what they thought they'd give us to motivate us? Fuck you, Marvel.
posted by corb at 8:20 PM on April 20 [16 favorites]


Actually sort of a cute idea, if they'd done it a couple of decades ago, in that it the whole mode of a secret underground reality could mesh well with superheroes not-quite-coexisting with the mundane world and provide some fertile ground for subversive storytelling.

(I mean, yeah, Grant Morrison would do it best, but as a long, architectural bit of world-building, it could work with almost any competent writer.)

But doing it now, in today's climate, seems desperate and... well, reactionary.
posted by rokusan at 8:25 PM on April 20 [8 favorites]


Who did this? A wizard?

That’s the only way I can explain most things these days…
posted by Going To Maine at 8:39 PM on April 20 [2 favorites]



This is the sort of thing that drove me crazy when I read a lot of superhero comics; what's the point of getting invested in a narrative if the writers can come along later and deus ex machina it out of existence?


And this is how spandex soap operas get rid of readers who are prone to overthinking it, so they can concentrate on writing for the next cohort of 11 year olds.
posted by ocschwar at 8:46 PM on April 20 [3 favorites]


With this, it seems DC's going to get a leg up on Marvel then, given how well DC Rebirth has been doing.

*sees the upcoming Batman storyline involving the Watchmen button*

Hm.
posted by FarOutFreak at 8:56 PM on April 20 [3 favorites]


Not being a comic reader (except for Gaiman and Moore) I am wondering about the periodic restructuring that both DC and Marvel seem to do. Is it simply that they have a stable of characters that they then just drop into a new, even violently different , world as possibly just an easy way to recycle said characters in the hopes of renewing interest in them? I can't imagine any fictional character running through story after story for decades except from comics. (And maybe the Simpsons, with all the moaning about how that has decayed. ) So these shifts in "universes" are just ways of keeping a character going? I can see how someone could really screw up a character by making them inconsistent with the past depictions. Characters can grow or change. But I assume there are limits. This use of Nazism could just be a zeitgeist thing. A very inappropriate one. Or... Is it a warning that someone who acted as "America First!" Is really a crypto now openly fascist?
posted by njohnson23 at 8:57 PM on April 20 [2 favorites]


Can someone in the know speak to this?

The New Nazi Captain America Is the Hero That Bigoted Comic Book Fans Deserve


It sounds like:
1. They tried to retire Steve Rogers and replace him with Sam Wilson, an African-American.
2. Fans of an unknown ethnic background freaked out about a black Captain America and got all racist about it.
3. Marvel responded with 2 Captain America titles; Captain America: Sam Wilson and Captain America: Steve Rogers, both written by Nick Spencer.

It seems Nazi Captain America was published to troll the racist Make Captain America Great Again types. Can't true Cap fans read the Sam Wilson series?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 9:06 PM on April 20 [7 favorites]


It seems Nazi Captain America was published to troll the racist Make Captain America Great Again types.

Is that really trolling at that point?
posted by codacorolla at 9:08 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]


ActingTheGoat, Secret Empire affects all the ongoing Marvel titles, in that they're all set in the same shared universe as the Secret Empire stuff. There's literally no escaping this event if you want to read the current comics. (Under other circumstances, you might be able to escape these shenanigans by switching to one of Marvel's cosmic lines, but the Chitauri invasion angle suggests to me that the cosmic guys are all going to get tangled up in this bullshit as well.)
posted by tobascodagama at 9:17 PM on April 20 [3 favorites]


It seems Nazi Captain America was published to troll the racist Make Captain America Great Again types.

Is that really trolling at that point?

More like pandering to the audience.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:22 PM on April 20 [15 favorites]


"There's literally no escaping this event if you want to read the current comics."

So, being intrigued by Coates as a writer, I started getting into the new Black Panther series. Love it so far. But is that going to be roped into this stupidity as well?
posted by traveler_ at 9:27 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]


There's actually a possibly good idea buried in there: the notion that Steve Rodgers is too good to be true, that he's an aspirational fantasy of what we wish the American Ideal could be. A fantasy brought to life by a magic wishing cube, which is a fairly transparent metaphor for Kirby & Lee imagining the character into existence.

But to make it worthwhile, I think you'd have to lean into the idea that this Ideal American the Allied leaders wished into existence ended up frequently opposing them and their successors whenever they fell short of the ideals of liberty, justice, and equality that Steve Rodgers embodied. And I think you'd have to conclude that, in the Marvel Universe, a Captain America wished into existence with a cosmic cube is no less "real" than the Asgardian deities, Atlantian monarchs, omega-level mutants, cosmic heroes, and sentient synthezoids standing next to him.
posted by straight at 9:30 PM on April 20 [15 favorites]


I have a suggestion:

FUCK this entire garbage fire.
This whole thing deserves none of our dollars and all of our scorn.
The End.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:31 PM on April 20 [15 favorites]


But I'm not the target audience for this because I'll never buy comics at a comics shop.

Would that it were so simple. As detailed in the excellent The Problem With Comics that Halloween Jack linked above, Marvel measures demand for its comics not by who is buying comics in a comic shop, but who is pre-ordering comics from a comics shop three months in advance.
posted by whir at 9:32 PM on April 20 [3 favorites]


You know what would be interesting: if Marvel or DC decided to just reset their universes every five years. Like, no need to have a universe-editing wizard or cosmic maelstrom or whatever. Just a regular five year cycle of unconnected universes.

I mean, there's always a lighthouse. Peter Parker always fails to save his uncle, Superman always crashes into Kansas, and Batman always swears revenge for his murdered parents. But! Now that you know that your arc will be five years, you plan for that. You can make big dramatic changes: Superman or Captain America can actually die without having to come up with stupid resurrection plot lines--he'll be back next cycle.

You can stop worrying about continuity, except internally to a cycle. No more daunting seventy year histories for characters, so it's easier to pick up new readers. You can overcome the drama/power creep problem (if you fight a world-eater, it's hard to go back to punching bank robbers).

And it's basically what they're already doing but actually planned.
posted by JDHarper at 9:50 PM on April 20 [34 favorites]


I think I'm the potential comic reader that Marvel wants to be reaching but isn't precisely due to this kind of stuff. I casually read non-superhero comics and graphic novels, but took a chance on Ms Marvel after it got so much hype. I was really enjoying it for a few editions and then... there was some big whole universe event and all of a sudden the world was different and I was just confused and it seemed like too much effort to understand so I stopped reading.

Every time I consider starting the new Black Panther series, I just think, "Ugh, it'll just get convoluted and hard-to-follow at some point, why bother?" and I buy Bitch Planet or Paper Girls instead.
posted by retrograde at 9:50 PM on April 20 [11 favorites]


Fans of an unknown ethnic background freaked out about a black Captain America and got all racist about it.

I know what their ethnic background was.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:52 PM on April 20 [11 favorites]


As someone who doesn't really read superhero stuff outside of G-Mo and Moore, is Hydra in this version of the universe like, actually fascist? Or are they just generically comic book evil with some nazi type symbolism? In the MCU the Hydra presented there is always very whitewashed from actual white supremacy.
posted by codacorolla at 9:54 PM on April 20


You can stop worrying about continuity

You can never stop worrying about continuity because even if those earlier stories aren't technically connected to the current ones, they still inform how readers think about the current characters, and writers will always be in conversation with those earlier stories whether they directly reference them or deliberately avoid referencing them.
posted by straight at 9:58 PM on April 20 [9 favorites]


Halloween Jack, your link to "The Problems with Comics" was spot-on. (Also, I have decided I hate books written in Twine, and have painstakingly copy-pasted the whole thing, one page at a time, into Word so I can re-read it later with the ability to scroll back.)

The book makes it very clear that, several years back (like, a couple of decades back), the big 2 comic companies (book is much more about Marvel, but the patterns aren't that different) decided that their true future was with the hardcore collector audience, and that economic progress would be from having endless gimmicks to sell lots of this month's comics: variant covers, two issues released in a month, Special Event Issue #1, crossovers, more crossovers, and Oh No He's Dead issues. It apparently worked like gangbusters for about 18 months in the early 90's and has never worked since, but they keep trying.

Oh No Cap Is Evil has created/will create a tiny bump in sales. Unless they reverse it quickly, the followup will plummet, because - surprise! - most of us don't want to read Evil!Cap. (And if we do, AO3 will do it better. But it's never going to top Hydra Trash Party for popularity.) (If you don't know what that is, you probably don't want to.)

Part of the endless focus on gimmicks includes ignoring the characters that so many of us love. There's this amazing double message of, "buy these comics because they're packed full of American Icons, the folklore of our nation, the stories you grew up loving!" ... right alongside of, "we're not going to promise to keep a single feature of those characters or storylines consistent with what you grew to love."

Combine that with the rise of video games as entertainment, endless amazing free content online (with bonus ability to throw Patreon dollars at creators you like), and self-pub of all sorts hitting Amazon... yeah, the Big 2 are doomed if they can't figure out how to connect with today's teenagers by the time those teenagers have real bucks to spend.

Cap'n Amerinazi is not going to be remembered well, ten years from now.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:01 PM on April 20 [10 favorites]


As someone who doesn't really read superhero stuff outside of G-Mo and Moore, is Hydra in this version of the universe like, actually fascist? Or are they just generically comic book evil with some nazi type symbolism? In the MCU the Hydra presented there is always very whitewashed from actual white supremacy.


As I recall, it's varied pretty dramatically over the company's history.
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 10:05 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]


With this, it seems DC's going to get a leg up on Marvel then, given how well DC Rebirth has been doing.

*sees the upcoming Batman storyline involving the Watchmen button*

Hm.


"Hurm"
posted by knuckle tattoos at 10:13 PM on April 20 [25 favorites]


This kind of shit is why I periodically start reading comics again and then eventually stop. Plus seriously, the biggest comic lines just rehash everything over and over again except making it kinda shittier?

This is why I prefer the TV/movie versions of comics*. They just can't rehash the same plot for fifty years and get away with it in the same way.

* Except this Superman/Batman shit of late, booooooring.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:53 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]


Two things worth noting.

(a) Having read the issue, it's not necessarily clear, for the scene in question for which the clickbait-title article is professing great outrage, whether we're visiting Steve's memory of the past (which due to Comic Book Hand-Wavy Cosmic Cube-i-ness cannot be necessarily considered the "Truth" of the Marvel Universe) or watching the event from the third-party omniscient comic book reader perspective, i.e., how it actually happened.

(b) Looking at the dark mirror of our heroes is a very common occurrence in comic book universes. At least as far back as the Silver Era, there's been evil versions of DC and Marvel heroes. More recently, we saw a Nazi version of Superman when in Multiplicity, Grant Morrison created a Nazi alternate universe where Superman, or, rather, Overman was brought up by Hitler and the Third Reich -- indeed, Nazi versions of the entire JLA. It's also been a long-running common theme in DC's Elseworlds and Marvel's "What If".

Why? Basically, I think it's this: when you're not feeling good about the world you're living in, sometimes you want to see a dystopia in your fiction. And sometimes you just want to look inside the dark mirror and see what you see. Apocalyptic fiction can feel good when you're in a bad mood. "Independence Day" can be enjoyable when you're in a bad mood.

And, more thematically, when America feels like it's taken a massive weird-angle turn into Trumpland, many, many Americans are not going to be in the mood to see a pure, idealistic American utopia in their fiction. To me -- and I recognize I'm not in the majority here -- it's actually somewhat clever to take the sentiment of "what the FUCK just happened to America?" which many of us felt upon waking up that day in November ... and then insert the word "Captain" before "America".

Comic books are not necessarily morally bound to inspire. Like any work, sometimes they reflect the time in which they were created.
posted by WCityMike at 11:08 PM on April 20 [7 favorites]


This isn't even the first time Cap ended up being a Nazi. The 50s Cap was retconned into having been an unhinged double (even though he originally wasn't) and actually ended up wearing a friggin' swastika. The whole question of authenticity via Cosmic Cube presupposes we as readers believe in the Cosmic Cube, instead of the material history of making comics, so that's, uh, quite a position.

They'll reset him because comics don't change much and instead of being self-contained, end up with a continuity that erases moral stakes. So you'll get Nice Cap back, but at no point will the story have earned him. He is merely being reset because he's a product.
posted by mobunited at 11:26 PM on April 20 [4 favorites]


the reality-warping power of the Cosmic Cube

I have only read a small bit of Marvel Stuff, and only one thing in which a Cosmic Cube appeared. Is it fair to call them the dumbest bit of MacGuffinishness that was ever MacGuffin’d? Or are they the sort of thing that goes around the other side because, once you’ve read the comics long enough, you realize that everything is MacGuffins and at least Cosmic Cubes don’t pretend to be anything else?
posted by Going To Maine at 11:30 PM on April 20 [4 favorites]


For contrast, a few spoiler-lite quotes from the last few episodes of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which is exploring an unrelated timeline where hydra won:

background character: "Are hydra really nazis?"
super smart, heroic main character: "Every last one of them, and don't you dare let anyone tell you different."

Hydra leader: "We're going to make our society great again."

Same hyrdra leader, about shield agent: "We beat her, we tortured her, but nevertheless, she persisted."
posted by fomhar at 11:51 PM on April 20 [20 favorites]


I was following Anthony Oliveria's popular tweet that a comics culture where Captain America is a Nazi is a o.k vs one where he kisses a dude is unthinkable is kind of warped and spent some time thinking - okay you get that job, for this book Cap is going to have a revelation about his sexuality . Dear god what does that even look like? Action by action?

Like I feel like you'd have to read fall of valor and the lost weekend a few times? It's not just a late in life coming out story, it's a late in life and also I was raised in the literal 1920s story.

Think! Of! The! Period! Specific! Angst! Or like he may be slightly better to deal with it cause he skipped the mid century demonization of homosexuality? The lavender menace was a 50s thing.

He's is defineatly working too hard to avoid having a separate social or romantic Life however, that's just a given.
posted by The Whelk at 11:51 PM on April 20 [6 favorites]


This is an excellent argument for laws that bring 50 year old characters into the public domain.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:32 AM on April 21 [21 favorites]


That wouldn't stop them. Forced retirement of all old characters, however...
posted by mushhushshu at 12:40 AM on April 21


It is 'art'. Cast some shadows on the wall of the cave and observers will read in what they want. Cubes are powerful, oh look its assholes all the way down, a reboot for money, controversy gets you cash, or whatever can be your take away and be 'right' because art as allegory lets that happen and little chance of getting a change in the POV. Center the 'art' about a emotionally loaded word and suddenly the thing is self-promoting.

And here we are, with people who otherwise would not care/show any interest in the topic may become interested enough to go look or even spend $ on the art to see if someone else 'gets' the spender of time/money's worldview.

As observed by Eric Blair: All one can do for the moment is to use the word with a certain amount of circumspection and not, as is usually done, degrade it to the level of a swearword.

If the misquote of the man who used the word as the name of a political party was actually true "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power." then one could use the emotion tied to the person as part of your rhetoric VS going 'who is Giovanni Gentile'? This art is using emotionally loaded characters to send a message. A message few would see if Sgt. Amerikan and the meowing tabbies were the art used to convey a message.
posted by rough ashlar at 3:35 AM on April 21


Well, at least this won't affect the Fantastic Four.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 3:45 AM on April 21 [3 favorites]


It's really too bad, but I feel like this type of behavior is cyclical, and Marvel is returning to their 90s behavior. We had about ten years of pretty good comics from them (I'd include Morrison's X-Men run, Runaways under Vaughn, Immortal Iron Fist Hawkeye under Fraction, the Journey into Mystery stuff featuring Loki, Legion, hell, Planet Hulk was tons of fun, to name a few), but now with the exception of a few titles (Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl, Hellcat, and the now finished Spider-Woman) I can barely give a shit about Marvel. Don't even get me started on how they've run X-Men into the ground. Also, does anyone give a crap about the Inhumans whatsoever?? Go back to the moon, space hippies.

Additionally, this whole Nazis won WW2 story was done (most likely better too) in two issues of What If, when Iron Man fails to pull Cap outta that ice cube he was floating around in for like, however many years.
posted by triage_lazarus at 3:50 AM on April 21 [2 favorites]


In some ways, this looks to either be some sort of tie-in or deliberate parallelism with what is currently going on with the TV show Agents of Shield (spoiler: Hydra+Matrix and LOTS of brainwashing and rewriting of history).
posted by Old'n'Busted at 3:58 AM on April 21


Go back to the moon, space hippies.

Herbert!
posted by thelonius at 4:02 AM on April 21 [5 favorites]


And the Soviets won the cold war, despite how it looked at first.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:33 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


I think, on the surface, this storyline is not a bad concept. Marvel, more than DC, has always been more "metaphorical" in tackling real-world issues and so I think dealing with how fascism happens does sort of fit into what Marvel does. And I think that could be a pretty powerful story for where we are right now.

But Marvel's handling of this has been so poor and Nick Spencer should not be the one writing this. And he should get off Twitter.
posted by darksong at 4:58 AM on April 21


"Captain America is...a Nazi?!?" is a good hook for one story. Five or six issues that fit comfortably in a trade paperback. A year of stories is really pushing it. A year-plus of stories is really really pushing it. A year-plus of stories that fuck with every other comic Marvel readers are actually enjoying, thanks, is how you go from losing an audience on one book to losing an audience for your entire product line.

Event comics were meant to do the opposite, obviously. A rising tide lifts all boats. If the tide that rolls in is all stanky, though, now we're in trouble.

This particular event was badly conceived from the start. The idea that the Nazis originally won World War II, and that the Allies had to use the Cosmic Cube to change history, is in astonishingly poor taste when you consider that Jack Kirby, who literally is the creator of Captain America, literally fought the Nazis. With his hands and a gun. Do you think Kirby would dig this story? I don't. If he were alive today, would you feel okay pitching this story to him? I wouldn't. Some hundred-year-old man would probably try to beat my ass.

This story is somehow an even worse idea now that it was when it was developed, at a time when most of us -- and, I presume, everyone at Marvel -- thought that Trump would lose. That saying something, since it was already a pretty bad idea. They've put a lot of time in on an epic storyline that readers simply do not want and have come way too far to turn back now. If they do manage to pull a rabbit out of their hat, I'll be impressed.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:05 AM on April 21 [19 favorites]


Forced retirement of all old [comic book] characters, however...

"Forced retirement?"

Are you suggesting that comic books should contain... death panels?
posted by rokusan at 5:22 AM on April 21 [19 favorites]


Bucky Barnes is still out there with the Thunderbolts, and Kobik the Cosmic Cube who is a little girl. So I expect that to be important.

I read secret empire last night and just ugh, it is not fun. I mean, it could be, like the article points out, you've got the cosmic heavy hitters stranded in space and the earthbound city heroes doing their best to protect people. (And new Quasar just got eaten by a Chitauri monster, so unfair! She just got those bracelets!) But Steve Rogers as the head of Hydra is just gross. The idea that all of Earth fucked up by trusting Captain America as their last best hope.

I really don't get how this is going to go down. The Americops in Captain America Sam Wilson were irritating enough. There's so many other story lines active right now that just can't fit into this. The Crew just kicked off with Misty Knight investigating the death of a black civil rights superhero; the X-Men are back and trying to prove themselves; the Inhumans just toppled their monarchy and are starting a democracy. And now that's all on hold for Nazis?

And yeah of course I'm going to read the whole damn thing. I'm a Marvel girl to the core (even if this is making me go Dark Phoenix). But maybe I'll be able to wait until it's all on Marvel Unlimited.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 5:27 AM on April 21 [3 favorites]


I mentioned this in passing in the last thread, but I was on board in the very early days when it looked like Spencer was legit going to use Cap to make a comment on the US's inbred tendency toward fascism. Then the election happened, and it wasn't a conscious choice, but one day I looked at it on the rack and decided I wasn't up for it and my stack that week was big enough anyway. Moved on.

I am now reliably informed that Spencer didn't really take the story there at all. Which, for a professed progressive trying to tell a political story, is a weird goddamn ball to drop. But yeah, okay, maybe it was just a misstep. People have fucked up on a grand scale before.

Doubling down like this, though, shows you don't at all understand the significance of the material you've taken on and just want to fuck with it to do bad ass shit. It's the Zack Snyder method: Do the most shallow reading imaginable of the source material, then morally compromise everyone because that makes it adult and complex!

So Spencer has taken a character created by Jews to advocate for my country entering the fight against racist fascism and has done this. Has said that Captain America was always the opposite of what he was supposed to stand for, that everything we believed in was an alternate reality, a manipulation.

And I suppose that could somehow be shoehorned into some kind of message that the good guys aren't there by default, we're always fighting against the darkness, whatever, but frankly I don't have that kind of faith in Nick Spencer right now. I think he just fucked up a very important legacy born from one of history's most oppressed cultures because he could. Because it would be "controversial". The only hope now is that someone more skilled will come along later and Batgirl/Oracle this pile of dook.

Jesus Christ.
posted by middleclasstool at 5:40 AM on April 21 [19 favorites]


"Do you think this A stands for Adolf?"
posted by Quindar Beep at 6:00 AM on April 21 [3 favorites]


This is too odd and stupid, because Chris Evans portrayal of Cap in the movies has been great, making me give a damn about the character. To hear that the comics are going this route is just terrible.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:09 AM on April 21 [8 favorites]


Everything You Know Is Wrong continuity earthquakes almost always get reverted over time. The presence of Kobik Ex Machina means they are showing you the neon-painted exit strategy even while shouting that this is irrevocable. So this is not so much WHY DID THEY RUIN CAP? as why did they feel this was a good idea even as a temporary event? And that's the "do bad ass shit" above coupled with the Chessboard mentality, aka a new manager saying I don't care how strong my position is, if I don't move a bunch of pieces RIGHT NOW I'm​ losing the game.

Give it a year and Cap will be back to rousing speeches and punching guys in snake costumes, or the spirit of Mark Gruenwald will choke some people in their sleep.
posted by delfin at 6:13 AM on April 21


I think the only Marvel book I read these days is Silver Surfer. SS is great, and I can't imagine it'll get roped into whatever nonsense this "event" is peddling. I'll try whatever book Mike Allred takes a crack at, regardless of my interest in the character. So far it's served me pretty well, what with his recent work on SS, Art Ops, and the Ant-Man led FF.

My Marvel interest is pretty much at an all-time low. I loved the Morrison New X-Men and the Mulligan/Allred X-Force/X-Statix, so when Marvel backed away hard from those books seconds after they ended I figured out pretty easily that I was better off looking elsewhere for books that interested me.

Seriously, howyoudoin', Image? I could never have imagined years ago that Image would be putting out the widest slate of fantastic comics currently available. It's insane. Even Valiant is publishing better books on a whole than Marvel or DC.
posted by joelhunt at 6:20 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


Just please don't mess up Squirrel Girl.
posted by drezdn at 6:49 AM on April 21 [3 favorites]


Same hyrdra leader, about shield agent: "We beat her, we tortured her, but nevertheless, she persisted."

That would be a huge line to put in a book. Which is why it will never, ever happen.
posted by bonehead at 7:00 AM on April 21


Wasn't this done already? Wasn't it called Marshal Law?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:07 AM on April 21 [2 favorites]


(Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl, Hellcat, and the now finished Spider-Woman)

Hellcat just wrapped, and my gut says current leadership has Ms. Marvel in their sights because she's "off-brand".

Just please don't mess up Squirrel Girl.

Here's a thing that gives me pause: the only official Squirrel Girl goods you can buy from Marvel that I can find seem to feature the 90s version, which I think they eventually made somehow grimdark? As far as I can tell there's nothing official with Erica Henderson's art on it. It is ludicrous that I can't buy a shirt that has Doreen in an action pose with like an "EATS NUTS KICKS BUTTS" ribbon underneath, and I feel like it's again because that would be off-brand for the current gross po-faced direction Marvel is going in.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:07 AM on April 21 [7 favorites]


You know what would be interesting: if Marvel or DC decided to just reset their universes every five years. Like, no need to have a universe-editing wizard or cosmic maelstrom or whatever. Just a regular five year cycle of unconnected universes.

I mean, there's always a lighthouse. Peter Parker always fails to save his uncle, Superman always crashes into Kansas, and Batman always swears revenge for his murdered parents. But! Now that you know that your arc will be five years, you plan for that. You can make big dramatic changes: Superman or Captain America can actually die without having to come up with stupid resurrection plot lines--he'll be back next cycle.
This is a very fannish style of storytelling. I wonder what it is about the industry/medium that keeps them from making this leap.
posted by galaxy rise at 7:08 AM on April 21


So, being intrigued by Coates as a writer, I started getting into the new Black Panther series. Love it so far. But is that going to be roped into this stupidity as well?

Looks like BP just wrapped up its current storyline right before this event hit. Which is pretty common for events, actually. So you could continue reading up until whatever the most recent issue was (#12?) and then stop and be fine until somebody punches Richard-- sorry, Nick Spencer and sanity is restored.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:09 AM on April 21


If they do manage to pull a rabbit out of their hat, I'll be impressed.

This has literally never happened. None of these "controversial" (aka dumb) big sweeping changes or crossovers has ever had a satisfying ending that justified the story. They mostly just fizzle out and set up whatever is the next big thing.
posted by straight at 7:10 AM on April 21 [2 favorites]


I'm a little bummed because next week I'm going to my college town on business, and whenever I'm down there I hit up my friend's comic store and buy a bunch of trades from him (I generally don't buy comics at home unless it's something I really want and I'm not going back to college town for more than a month). So I was looking forward to picking up at least the first Black Panther trade, and maybe Squirrel Girl (though Ryan North generally works best in small doses for me), and finish off Fraction's run on Hawkeye.

Now I don't want to drop money on anything Marvel. Looks like I'll just be picking up Saga 6 and another copy of Saga 1 to give to somebody else. And maybe something else I haven't heard of yet. (Rat Queens?)
posted by thecaddy at 7:18 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


the only official Squirrel Girl goods you can buy from Marvel that I can find seem to feature the 90s version

You can get a notebook or a pillow with the real Squirrel Girl, but yeah, all the T-shirts and most of the other products are typical cheesecake acorn-sized-waist comic-book girl in an embarrassing Hawkeye-Initiative pose. (And even that one bit of Erica Henderson's art digs up what is probably the most cheesecake image of Squirrel Girl from her entire run.)
posted by straight at 7:23 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


in other comics news Jeff Lemire is really kicking ass on Black Hammer at dark horse.
There are tons of alternatives to DC and Marvel these days, actually the best stuff in comics is done outside the big two, even if you're into super heroes.
posted by SageLeVoid at 7:26 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


You know what would be interesting: if Marvel or DC decided to just reset their universes every five years.

With various often-hamfisted methods, that IS modern DC. Crisis melted the multiverse in 86, Zero Hour broke time and space in 94, Hypertime restretched all boundaries in 99, Infinite Crisis punched reality into 52 fragments in 06-7, Barry Allen Fucked Up Everything in 11, Convergence pulled in bits from everywhere in 15.

And it hasn't been pretty. Some characters have been rebooted so many times that nobody's sure about anything about them any more.
posted by delfin at 7:27 AM on April 21 [3 favorites]


Sure. Why not?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:34 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


You can get a notebook or a pillow with the real Squirrel Girl

Wow, if Zazzle didn't have a page claiming "Yup, this is all officially licensed through Marvel" I would assume that was bootleg stuff. It's all janky af.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:36 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


This is killing me because I love comics, i really do, but the comics I've loved in the last few years that seemes like the mainstream was going in a really good direction are now clearly outliers. It seems to me the non-Ms. Marvel, non-Squirrel Girl, non-Black Panther, or House DeFraction comics I've enjoyed most have been all age indy comics. (I didn't dig Paper Girls or Rat Queens like I thought I would but I'm so so happy they exist). Which usually means I spend a lot of time around BOOM! and BOOM!box properties.

The last comic that i really really looked forward to was Tyson Hesse's Diesel, because it pushes my Fuck Ups With A Heart Of Gold button hard (looking at you, Night in the Woods. Not a comic, but damn I love it).

Anyway the point is, Marvel was given a gift horse in reaching hugely underserved markets and said, I wonder what's in its mouth.

(Nazis, apparently)
posted by gc at 7:38 AM on April 21 [2 favorites]


Wow, if Zazzle didn't have a page claiming "Yup, this is all officially licensed through Marvel" I would assume that was bootleg stuff. It's all janky af.

That's the store that marvel.com sends you to for "personalized" merchandise (i.e. stuff they don't think is popular enough to make a bunch of and sell in stores).
posted by straight at 7:48 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


And yet another reason why my 'big' comic publisher these days is Image.
posted by HypotheticalWoman at 8:01 AM on April 21


*sees the upcoming Batman storyline involving the Watchmen button*

Hm.

"Hurm"


Fun fact: Watchmen canonically exists (or at least, existed) in the DC Universe, or at least did back in the '80s, when The Question -- on whom the character Rorschach is based -- bought a copy of the trade paperback in an airport bookstore while on the way to investigate a case. The Question admires the Rorschach character and adopts his more straightforwardly brutal ways -- which result in his getting his hat handed to him when he busts into a room full of bad guys and the martial arts skill of a long man fails to prevail against a dozen antagonists. He's about to be executed and, asked for last words, says "Rorschach sucks."

Fortunately, Green Arrow arrives to save his bacon.
posted by Gelatin at 8:05 AM on April 21 [9 favorites]


We Love Fine has some Squirrel Girl t-shirts that are decently designed. (I've liked everything I've gotten from them.) Those are also officially licensed.
posted by darksong at 8:29 AM on April 21 [4 favorites]


We Love Fine has some Squirrel Girl t-shirts that are decently designed. (I've liked everything I've gotten from them.) Those are also officially licensed.

Oooo, there's a couple good contest winners on there! Thanks!
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 8:45 AM on April 21


that the Allies had to use the Cosmic Cube to change history, is in astonishingly poor taste when you consider that Jack Kirby, who literally is the creator of Captain America, literally fought the Nazis.

It's in astonishingly poor taste in that it centers WW2 on the US and not on the countries where people's homes were destroyed and where the fighting happened.

WW2 is just so much set dressing here so I don't know how offended anyone should be by it - the WW2 they're referring to doesn't even exist. It's a reimagining of a fictional war.
posted by GuyZero at 9:10 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


Only the Squirrel Girl readers know that this is surely all Bass Lass's fault.
posted by rikschell at 9:15 AM on April 21 [4 favorites]


This seems like a good place to ask, since a lot of the reason I've never gotten into mainstream superhero stuff are the issues that people are surfacing here. Comics I do like: The Invisibles, Doom Patrol, Watchmen, Animal Man, Demon: Etrigan, Madman, Concrete. Also, on TV, the main filmic superhero stuff that I've liked have been Noah Hawley's Legion, and Fox's Gotham, and (for the most part) Guardians of the Galaxy.

Is there anything out there running, or with a recent omnibus, that would fit with that?
posted by codacorolla at 9:31 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


Is there anything out there running, or with a recent omnibus, that would fit with that?

DC's "Young Animal" imprint is explicitly trying to recapture the sensibility of the comics you list, and includes a new version of Doom Patrol among its titles. It's edited by Gerard Way, who also wrote the wonderful Umbrella Academy (and, yes, is the guy from the band My Chemical Romance).

Matt Fraction's Casanova would be right up your alley as well; it runs a new miniseries occasionally, but the first few are out and collected.

Other stuff to check out in TPBs: Pretty Deadly, East of West, Mind MGMT.
posted by kewb at 9:36 AM on April 21 [2 favorites]


I could never have imagined years ago that Image would be putting out the widest slate of fantastic comics currently available.
posted by joelhunt


You're not kidding. Injection, The Wicked + The Divine, They're Not Like Us, The Wild Storm, Nowhere Men (if they could get on a regular publishing schedule already), Jupiter's Legacy, and of course the wonderful Rat Queens are what I'm loving these days. Also the pulp feel of the Dynamite comics line - The Shadow, The Spider, Ms. Fury.

The whole rehashing of old storylines with Marvel and DC is tired. They'll do the omgNazis bullshit story and it'll basically suck. They'll introduce some new characters, then realize that there's too many characters and then there'll be a omgRevolution bullshit story in which the White Hats win like always and there's a big catastrophe or something boring like that and it kills the extraneous heroes and villains, but more likely shunts them off to another fucking universe because they can be re-introduced if Marvel or DC need more money.
They'll also introduce one or two new characters that a lot of people will really like and those'll be "refrigeratored" or shelved because the Editors are deaf to anything but their own praise.
The whole 'it has to be bigger! get ALL the dimensional beings involved!' is done and will always lack punch as it all seems to be orchestrated by old guys who never had much talent anyways - I just see them making too much money, smoking a LOT of bubble hash and thinking up "what to do next".

With something like Jupiter's Legacy, people seem to have different powers, but it's not really gone in to detail. Some heroes are bored. Some are controlling the planet without having to resort to a couple of videogames and multiple comics seasons (hello Injustice). Some are dead just when you think you might've liked them but it all fits with the story. The 'Injection' series - there aren't any superpowers, just really smart people. There's the edge - it's new and it doesn't think that you, the reader, is stupid.
posted by Zack_Replica at 10:10 AM on April 21 [4 favorites]


Anthony Oliveira: hey quick q what r our cultural values when "Captain America is a Nazi" is a viable series but "Captain America kisses a boy" is unthinkable
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:22 AM on April 21 [6 favorites]


I was briefly very furious about this before most of my rage washed away in a flood of disdain and ennui for this particular style of comics storytelling. There are never any stakes in this sort of superhero comic: everything is rebootable and temporary, events have to get more and more bloated and edgy to even have any interest at all given that everyone knows there'll be no long-lasting consequences anyway. It's hard to have any investment in that sort of storytelling, or at least, it always has been for me.

That said, it's still astonishingly shitty to do this with Captain America because stories matter. Hurting your audience matters. Marvel expects to be able to pull this kind of shit and then effectively "lol jk" themselves out of it, but the readers they've hurt aren't stupid. Like, thanks, I've got the message, Marvel. I'm not the kind of reader you want. I'll take my money elsewhere. And I'm perfectly happy to ignore and reject your horrible canon like it was some teenager's bad and edgy fanfiction.

The MCU at least is a little more insulated from this kind of bullshit by sheer virtue of being a significantly larger part of the vast capitalist machine that is superhero IP these days. My Captain America is Chris Evans' Captain America, the Captain America written by Markus and McFeely who surely have their own flaws but at least would never make Captain America a Nazi.
posted by yasaman at 10:25 AM on April 21 [15 favorites]


yasaman: you make an excellent point, and it's part of the reason that I wandered away not just from superhero comics, but from the bloated fantasy book series and Gothy roleplaying that I loved when I was young. When everything is possible, nothing is; there are no stakes. That's storytelling 101: something has to be at stake. A very memorable story can have a very tiny stake, but there's got to be something.
posted by Countess Elena at 10:35 AM on April 21 [3 favorites]


I'm already depressed about real nazis running the country, I don't need them running it in my comics.

Also, if you have to f-up your product so much to appeal to white-supremist nazi types, is it even worth being in the business any more. It can't be something to be proud of, having cornered the nazi demo.
posted by Gadgetenvy at 11:11 AM on April 21 [7 favorites]


My Captain America is Chris Evans' Captain America...

The Captain America that never gives up, that never backs down. Spirit, determination - sure you can set up the "that's what made the US great" line, but it's not just the US, it's all countries and all peoples.

The single most critical thing though is that you can see the movie or read the comic and perhaps see an ideal to strive towards, in yourself. Be better, stand up for the good, for the underdog, damn the cost. "I can do this all day."

But no. "Screw your ideals. He's a Nazi now! HA! Give us money!" These stupid, narrow-minded idiots should be fired. And then beaten up by a scrawny kid who REALLY loves comics. That'd be Justice.
posted by Zack_Replica at 12:06 PM on April 21 [10 favorites]


The "my Captain America is Chris Evan's Captain America" sentiment gets at something important, I think. The one kind of comics continuity that actually, really matters to readers outside the tiny community of obsessive collectors is continuity of characterisation.

The whole point of characters like Captain America and Superman is that they're aspirational. They're supposed to represent the best of us, what we could be if we just had the courage to become that person. You can replace Steve Rogers with Bucky Barnes or Sam Wilson, and the Captain America character still works, because those guys stand for the same things.

But if you replace Steve Rogers with a fucking Nazi, it all falls apart. Because Captain America defined himself by fighting Nazis. He's the guy who stands up to bullies, even when they're bigger than him and he's just a 90-pound weakling. Anybody who has that quality can be Captain America, any character who doesn't have that quality cannot. It's really as simple as that.

(Or, to put it another way...)
posted by tobascodagama at 12:37 PM on April 21 [11 favorites]


I am increasingly convinced that someone needs to sit down the Marvel editorial staff and explain that they have been reading the phrase 'heroic power fantasy' wrong for kind of a while. The emphasis goes on the first word, chucklefucks.
posted by nonasuch at 12:41 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]


"But if you replace Steve Rogers with a fucking Nazi, it all falls apart. Because Captain America defined himself by fighting Nazis. He's the guy who stands up to bullies, even when they're bigger than him and he's just a 90-pound weakling. Anybody who has that quality can be Captain America, any character who doesn't have that quality cannot. It's really as simple as that."

I mean, there's a good story in the notion that people who are bullied can end up as bullies themselves while still clinging to the underdog or brave rebel persona — e.g. the 90-pound-weakling who becomes a Gamergate bully. There could be a Captain America arc (and I'd bet there probably has been, since I was always an X-fan, not an Avengers stan, so I don't know his canon as well) where Captain America becomes corrupted by not recognizing that he's enforcing an oppressive power apparatus while still claiming the mantle of defending freedom. You could even run that with some historical flavor, like how the Americans took in Nazis after the war, and use that to imply that we've become Nazis, and that Captain America has then acted to support Nazis by acting as a tool of a crypto-Nazi state, using the rhetorical disingenuousness of modern conservatism, where "religious freedom" means denying civil rights to LGBT people. Have him defend some analog Mormon Temple from violent pro-gay protest or something, and you can show him thinking that he's on the right side of a bullied minority. But the only way to resolve that arc is to have him recognize the effects his actions are having, and that the power structure doesn't actually support LGBT people over religious people — quite the opposite — and have him reaffirm his fundamental American decency by preventing attacks on peaceful LGBT protests or something, and throw in a dollop of him inspiring all of us through a non-violent protest despite being someone who knows that force is often justified in the defense of people.

But then, that would require not treating the whole thing as a stunt.
posted by klangklangston at 1:09 PM on April 21


You could even run that with some historical flavor, like how the Americans took in Nazis after the war, and use that to imply that we've become Nazis, and that Captain America has then acted to support Nazis by acting as a tool of a crypto-Nazi state

Well, this part sort of happened already in the MCU, in Captain America: Winter Soldier. Only Cap wasn't implicated in any of it because taking in the HYDRA evil scientists with Operation Paperclip and the whole SHIELD being infiltrated by HYDRA thing happened while he was frozen. And the Civil War movie was an attempt to interrogate Cap's moral foundation, though I don't think it particularly succeeded at that because the movie's use of the Accords/superhero registration was just too muddled.

At any rate, you're right, you can do some serious and interesting takes on Cap unwittingly becoming the bully, but in order to stay true to who he is, you have to not end it with some nonsense about how he's been the bully all along!!!! Because that's a little like being all "psych, Superman isn't Kryptonian, he's a human who's been faking being an alien! this renders literally the entire rest of the canon nonsensical, but who cares! twist!" You can get away with it in a brief alternate universe type deal, or an issue-long fakeout that's quickly resolved, but doing otherwise is like blowing up your building's foundation and expecting the building not to collapse.
posted by yasaman at 1:30 PM on April 21 [6 favorites]


My impression from the comic is that this is pretty clearly an memory implanted into Steve by his Hydra manipulators.
posted by Megafly at 1:56 PM on April 21


I think of this not as backlash to Kirby, but backlash to the Movie MCU. Mainstream audiences think Captain America is always the good guy, and Civil War is just two different good guys disagreeing about implementation. There is no real 'dirty hands' for a MCU fan to deal with.

Comics though, revamp by author, revamp by universe - constantly show us alternate takes, different perspectives on the same stories, or different visions of what is right.

I remember not liking cap in the early 80s because he was just a good guy propaganda hub... man - the late 80s and 90s I read at least 15 or so very distinctive versions of Cap and they dealt with a variety of versions of him. The new fans of the MCU know Chris Evans and maybe they've picked up an issue or twother. Maybe they know Hydra and their duplicitous nature from Agents of Shield... but for real - they don't fathom a 6 month story arc that destroys their favorite character by exploring a darker side then rebuilds your faith in them or replaces them with a completely re-envisioned cap or rebuilds this as an alternate dimension or timeline.

So yeah, this is dark, but consider this tough love for new comic fans.
posted by Nanukthedog at 2:43 PM on April 21


One man's tough love is another's dick move.
posted by tobascodagama at 3:43 PM on April 21 [7 favorites]




Marvel wants comic store employees to wear HYDRA shirts to promote Secret Empire, seemingly unaware that there are A LOT of people who essentially see this as Nazi cosplay and are not down with it. Go fuck yourself Marvel, I and a lot of other fans are as likely to wear a HYDRA logo as we are a fucking swastika.
posted by yasaman at 4:02 PM on April 21 [12 favorites]


I think a lot of this is Disney marketing saying, "We get people buying Empire shirts all the time! Make it so people buy Hydra shirts too!"
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:07 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]


Mainstream audiences think Captain America is always the good guy,

He is. That his entire purpose in the Marvel Universe. That is his core concept. Writers who lose sight of this have fucked it up.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:04 PM on April 21 [13 favorites]


(and I'd bet there probably has been, since I was always an X-fan, not an Avengers stan, so I don't know his canon as well)

Tell me more of these Avengers Stans.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:33 PM on April 21


So yeah, this is dark, but consider this tough love for new comic fans.

This is not "tough love" for comics fans. This is "fuck comics; I'll just watch the movies" for new "hey maybe I should try the comics too" fans. They weren't interested in comics before, and this will nicely convince them that the entire comicverse is just a convoluted cesspool of lies that wants $4 for a half-hour of reading material... if they read slowly.

I mean, why worry about alienating several million potential new customers when you can get a a few extra sales to diehard collectors who are bored with "Cap is the hero" storylines, eh?
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 5:59 PM on April 21 [10 favorites]


“tough love” in general feels like an alien concept to me when paying money for an art or entertainment product, but perhaps I’m just a cantankerous geezer these days who doesn’t like being told to feel bad and like it.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:46 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]


Mainstream audiences think Captain America is always the good guy,

He is. That his entire purpose in the Marvel Universe. That is his core concept. Writers who lose sight of this have fucked it up.


Yeah, that's Cap's real power. He's so good he can make the genius, billionaire, playboy look up to him without even trying.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:48 PM on April 21 [4 favorites]


You can totally do a cap-is-a-Nazi storyline and make it work. And in fact it's been done multiple times. What's weird about the current thing is...

A) it drags on forever. Get to the nazis are bad bit already.
B) DEAR GOD NICK SPENCER GET THE FUCK OFF THE INTERNET YOU ARE SO BAD AT IT.
C) the whole "not really nazis" thing, which, come on, you are not fooling anyone with, Marvel, why are you even doing that?

Plus, y'know, the most unfortunate timing evah.
posted by Artw at 6:53 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]


Like, I do not think Nick Spencer is running this plotline with malevolent intent, but my god is the dude working overtime on Twitter trying to make me think otherwise.
posted by Artw at 6:55 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that's Cap's real power.

This is the thing, though! This is what the Zack Snyders of the world consistently fail to understand. The thing that makes a superhero a superhero is not the ability to punch time or shoot laser beams out of one's eyes. It is the ability to use those outsized powers to do good-- to make heroic, unselfish choices, consistently, and use their superpowers accordingly. Not just to knock down buildings or take down governments, but to choose the right fights, and win them, without causing collateral damage that outweighs the win.

Plenty of superheroes fall short, but having that goal is what makes them superheroes and not just assholes with an outsized ability to harm others. We have those in the real world; no one wants comics about them. What we have a sad lack of is people who have and use an unfailing moral compass; the punching and lasers should just be backup.
posted by nonasuch at 7:55 PM on April 21 [20 favorites]


When I go to sleep tonight, I will imagine this storyline was handed to Dan Abnett instead, true as true.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:14 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


I'm hoping they don't do any more big events for a while, but that when they do they let Al run it.
posted by Artw at 8:19 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]


This is the thing, though! This is what the Zack Snyders of the world consistently fail to understand.

(Still) Relevant: In Defense of Supermen

Tell me the premise of a genuine "good guy" is uninteresting or unbelievable and you've told me an awful lot about yourself.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:23 PM on April 21 [14 favorites]


So yeah, this is dark, but consider this tough love for new comic fans.

My reaction to this "tough love" is to say "Hey, looks like Strong Female Protagonist has updated. So has Girl Genius and Gunnerkrigg Court. Not to mention Kill Six Billion Demons, The Meek, Namesake, Blindsprings, Miamaska, Namesake, Spill Zone, Everblue, How to be a Werewolf, Sword Interval...

And oh yeah, Marvel, like DC, is doing something shitty and stupid. Again. Ten years ago, I would have been a lot more concerned; now I just have to ask, why wait around for the comics to go back to the usual same-old-same-old? Why hope for a dying media to somehow get better?
posted by happyroach at 10:06 PM on April 21 [13 favorites]


Colin Spacetwinks, previously of The Problem With Comics, has a new Twine up about Marvel's ongoing failure: Shut The Fuck Up, Marvel.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:03 AM on April 22 [6 favorites]


A highly recommended read, though it's very, very long. Even as somebody who was a relatively informed comic-follower for a long time and knew about some of the shady bullshit about the direct market, I still learned a lot from that Twine.

(And if anybody is wondering why it's a Twine rather than a blog post or something... it's very, very long. The Twine format renders is what renders it actually readable, by breaking it up into logical transitions.)
posted by tobascodagama at 10:21 AM on April 22


The Twine ebook-thing is about 30k words total, nicely broken into 500-700 word pages, many of which have pictures to clarify the points being made. Twine books are a read in a browser; they're HTML files with a specialized setup. It's most commonly used for "choose your own adventure/pick-a-path" style writing. Only problem I had with this one is that there's no easy "back" button; once you click the "next page" link, you can't easily go back a few to check on details.

I have saved the whole thing out into a Word doc so I can scroll through it at leisure when re-reading; he gives a lot of terrific hard facts details to support his points and I want to spend some real time considering them.

He barely talks about the content at all, just Marvel's (horrifically bad) business decisions, like "let's have tons of crossovers so nobody can keep track of their favorite storyline" and "let's keep cancelling runs and starting new ones, so people have an easy way to quit reading" and "let's come up with a new massive event and not tell anyone what comics will be taking part in it or who the characters are," and the probably-most-crucial, "let's not tell anyone that if you want to support the comics you love most, you have to order them (1) from a brick-and-mortar store (2) three months in advance."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:47 AM on April 22 [3 favorites]


Marvel Is Bringing Back its Legends in Marvel Legacy - big ol' reset on top of the last reset.
posted by Artw at 3:27 PM on April 22 [2 favorites]


okay you get that job, for this book Cap is going to have a revelation about his sexuality . Dear god what does that even look like?
The Whelk, have you already checked out the fanfic novel Known Associates by thingswithwings? Author's summary/blurb:
Steve Rogers isn't a self-made man.

Or, how a tough little Brooklyn fairy got turned into Captain America, and then turned back.
It is so good.
posted by brainwane at 4:27 PM on April 22 [4 favorites]


From Artw's link: "Legacy will kick off a line-wide reshuffling of Marvel’s comics... as well as establish a new status quo of “hope, heroism, heart,” according to a provided press release." Good sign.

"the aforementioned press release puts characters like Ms. Marvel, the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl [YAY!!], and America Chavez right alongside classics like Captain America, the Odinson (not described as Thor despite art depicting him with Mjolnir, [it's STILL complicated]), and Iron Man as being important characters playing a role in Legacy." And more webcomic artists, please. In spite of its origin as a Spider-parody, "Spinnerette" is often as good as or better than any of Marvel's Spider-man variations.

But this needs ALL the stars of the 1966 barely-animated Marvel Cartoons: Cap, Iron Guy, Thor, Hulk and hell-yeah Namor, you ol' Sub-Mariner. (They lost the Fantastic 4 for me when they outsourced the cartoon to Hanna-Barbera who replaced Human Torch with a cute robot because of "fire safety"... which just shows HOW FAR BACK bad decisions at Marvel go)
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:46 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


Fuck Marvel.

(Spoiler: last page of the free comic book day Secret Empire comic)
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:51 PM on April 23 [2 favorites]


Here's a really great Twitter thread from Alexandra Erin (who really needs to get on Mastodon, because the 500-character limit would suit her style so much better) on the stupid fucking Mjolnir thing.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:21 AM on April 24 [2 favorites]


Fuck Marvel

It appears that account is suspended. Is there a scan elsewhere? I don't mind being spoiled.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:18 PM on April 24


SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER







It's a full-page panel of Nazi-Cap lifting Mjolnir easily/triumphantly with the caption --
they were worthy.



Which, for anyone with the remotest understanding/connection to Marvel... that's big news.
Captain America already has the plot-superpower of "Is the moral axis upon which the Marvel multiverse turns upon", where the universe itself shifts to always prove him righteous in the end. And "Who beyond Thor is worthy to even shift Mjolnir" has been a plot point doled out infrequently, because of its magnitude.

And this isn't even getting into the already-heavy adoption of non-Marvel Mjolnir & surrounding symbols into Neo-Norse white supremacy.

In other words, this is Marvel doubling down on Cap, with a symbol roughly equivalent to him picking up an Iron Cross.
posted by CrystalDave at 8:38 PM on April 24 [3 favorites]


Yeah, as mentioned elsewhere this is probably a clue drop for a big turn around later or whatever but it's basically Christmas come early for nazis.
posted by Artw at 8:51 PM on April 24 [2 favorites]


That's straight-up trolling. I have zero doubt that the turn will come later, but I also have zero doubt that he understands the symbolism and knows who he delighted with that panel. And he intentionally delighted them just to fuck with his critics so he could later do a toldjuhso dance in front of all of comics fandom.

If this is how he writes stories, he can go fuck himself. That's literally the first time in 42 years that I've ever said or written that sentiment. What a fucking child.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:01 AM on April 25 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I am fucking done with this guy.
posted by Artw at 6:09 AM on April 25 [1 favorite]


The other thing that makes Nazi Cap lifting the hammer particularly egregious is that it's already been shown within the Thor comics that when Thor became unworthy, he himself could no longer lift the hammer. Nazi Cap lifting the hammer is essentially saying that in objective morality, being a Nazi doesn't make you unworthy if you're a /good/ Nazi, which what the actual fuck.
posted by corb at 6:43 AM on April 25 [8 favorites]


The only time I ever hear about some group not *really* being Nazis is when Nazi groups unconvincingly try to hide their nature under some new brand or Spencer talking about Hydra.
posted by Artw at 6:48 AM on April 25 [5 favorites]


The only solace I can take is that yesterday, after pushing back against some stupid in a twitter thread connected to #HolocaustRememberanceDay is that Nazis still really fucking hate Captain America, specifically the MCU version.

(I spent most of #HolocaustRememberanceDay getting called fat by Twitter Nazis.)
posted by klangklangston at 12:54 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


The other thing that makes Nazi Cap lifting the hammer particularly egregious is that it's already been shown within the Thor comics that when Thor became unworthy, he himself could no longer lift the hammer. Nazi Cap lifting the hammer is essentially saying that in objective morality, being a Nazi doesn't make you unworthy if you're a /good/ Nazi, which what the actual fuck.

While this crap is terrible and I don't endorse it, I think the actual plot will be more like "the Cosmic Cube warped reality, creating the alternate history of Steve Rodgers and changing a bunch of other stuff, including Mjorlnir's judgment about worthiness. No Nazi would never be able to lift the 'real' Mjorlnir."
posted by straight at 1:53 PM on April 25


Man says diversity is bad.

Man helms comics into making Captain America a Nazi and then uses a Norse symbol coded with overt and objective judgement on peoples' characters to reinforce that Nazis are good. (Keep in mind that aspect of Mjolnir is entirely invented by Marvel along with Thor being blond.)

We really need to believe what people say about themselves. The simplest explanation is there has always been a significant population of USans who believe white male supremacy is good and right and should be the status quo. They have created a government and various entertainments to reinforce this white male supremacy. They don't care if people disagree. They know they are right and they will win. And one of them is helming Marvel right now and making his heroic power fantasy a reality.
posted by Deoridhe at 1:53 PM on April 25 [6 favorites]






Man, this bit...

People who say the new audience inherently don’t want super-heroes or don’t want periodicals are fundamentally wrong. They just don’t want them in the way they’re being offered.

With “Black Panther”, it was tons of new faces, diverse faces, genuinely excited about comics. And they were vibing on it… until Marvel saw it had a hit on its hand, and decided to push out “Black Panther: World of Wakanda”, and then “Black Panther: The Crew”. And this new audience began to leap off in droves because they don’t grasp (or want) Marvel’s publishing plan.

Seriously, our sales drop-off on “Black Panther” is significantly worse than similar titles and launches, and you can see the deflection points accelerate as the additional titles are released. Less is more when it comes to entertainment and branding – something that I said all the way back in my ninth column in 1993 – which is mostly just copying something that Joe Brancatelli said back in 1976 (!) (We’re just about to move our website, so I’m pretty positive that link is going to break in a week or two…. If it 404s when you read this try a search on “Hibbs Tilting Brancatelli”… or email me!) Adding a second “Black Panther” title doesn’t double your sales; instead it causes x% of Panther readers to walk away instead.

The same thing happened with “Doctor Strange”, when “Sorcerors Supreme” launched, the same thing happened when Marvel published two different “Squirrel Girl” issue #1’s in a single year, or when they expanded “Guardians of the Galaxy” into like six books or more a month – the new audience? The ones who have been freshly minted this decade? They don’t understand Marvel’s publishing plans.

They’re not looking for a LINE of comics… they’re looking for a comic. That new young woman who is buying “Squirrel Girl”? For the most part she’s not looking for five more female heroines to go along with it. That’s not to say that maybe she couldn’t be convinced to buy five more comics (she can!), but they have to be different flavors. They emphatically don’t want a line, like we did when we were kids.

posted by Artw at 10:03 AM on April 26 [5 favorites]


It's astonishing to me that Disney, the company that used to lock their movies up in a vault and refuse to show or sell them for several years to preserve their value, would allow Marvel to so dilute the value of their comics by flooding the market this way.

There's got to be dozens of managers at Disney salivating over the belief that they could make 10x as much money selling Marvel comics if they were only allowed to step in and reform this antiquated sales & distribution system. Surely it's only a matter of time before one of them gets into a position where they have the power to actually do it.
posted by straight at 12:17 PM on April 26 [2 favorites]


This rot started long before Disney owned them.
posted by Artw at 12:21 PM on April 26 [1 favorite]


Ehhhhhh...he's got a LOT right, but also a lot wrong.

I've always been a Marvel girl - in my teens and twenties, pretty close to what they called a "Marvel Zombie". I would absolutely buy the main title, and spinoffs of the main title.

But when they started pulling stunty gimmicks to get people to buy more comics - and yes, I consider 'replacing the main character with someone totally new' pretty fucking stunty - I was turned off. Those weren't the characters I fell in love with. For me, there is only one Captain America I want to read about, and it's Steve Rogers. Iron Man is Tony Stark. Thor is the Norse God of Thunder. It's not that I don't want to read about diverse characters - I would love to read diverse characters! But I don't want what's basically the equivalent of Marvel mashing random demographics and random existing characters until they smash together. I want Marvel to make new diverse heroes, or expand the stories of existing ones.

I came back for Civil War, which (I know this is controversial) I considered pretty much the high point of my Marvel adult love. It was exactly what I wanted to see. My heroes, the ones I loved, dealing with what were essentially modern issues, modern difficulties. Civil War was a commentary on the Patriot Act, on things we were doing to ourselves, and I couldn't get enough of it. I have a good part of a bookshelf dedicated to all the Civil War issues and trades I bought. I dropped probably a pretty obscene amount of money there.

And then from there they went to everything being insane. And then when that failed, they were like "people don't want diversity", and from there they apparently went to "let's let the alt-right masturbate to our comics" because fuck only knows why.

I would love it if they returned their heroes to the souls of what they were originally. But that's not "dear god! Too much diversity all over my comics!" It's more that when the world is chaos, I want my heroes to be especially pure, not grimdark and Nazitown. -But as the gentleman notes, I, and most of us, don't have the money to spend at 4$ a comic on multiple titles for multiple lines for stories I fundamentally do not have faith in.
posted by corb at 12:22 PM on April 26 [1 favorite]


This rot started long before Disney owned them.

Oh, sure. I'm just surprised Disney let's it continue because if there's one thing they know how to do it's turning IP into money.

Although now that I say that, I suppose Disney doesn't really care whether Marvel Comics makes any money. In fact they probably prefer publishing lots of comics to making any money publishing comics because they probably only value the comics part of the brand as a foul Petri dish for growing new IP that they can turn into money elsewhere with theme park rides, toys, movies, T-shirts, and video games.
posted by straight at 1:20 PM on April 26 [1 favorite]


I'm hell and gone from being an industry expert, but from my perspective, it looks like the comics industry is basically becoming a minor league farm system for movies and TV. I can't imagine that Disney really cares about comics as a major revenue source, but on the other hand I bet those studio execs like getting the story, storyboards, and market testing in one convenient package.
posted by middleclasstool at 1:57 PM on April 26 [3 favorites]


I think you both are right, yeah. Comic books are small time, who cares about the sales figures as long as Disney still gets the screen rights to all of it.

About that, though... I do wonder at what point someone from Disney walks down to the dead tree department to shout, "YOU ASSHOLES, WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO OUR BRAND???"
posted by tobascodagama at 2:13 PM on April 26


Oh, sure. I'm just surprised Disney let's it continue because if there's one thing they know how to do it's turning IP into money.

Although now that I say that, I suppose Disney doesn't really care whether Marvel Comics makes any money.


They do; they just aren't bothering with the Marvel heroes yet. Take a look at Marvel's Star Wars line if you want an idea of what it would -- and, I suspect, eventually will -- be like if Disney got hands-on with the MU.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:27 PM on April 26


If you're saying that Disney is responsible for Kieron Gillen's Darth Vader then, wow can they please take over the Marvel superhero comics ASAP?!
posted by straight at 1:59 PM on April 27 [1 favorite]


Well, here's the thing, Kieron Gillen's Darth Vader is exists because the Star Wars line is diffused in exactly the way the What the Hell article is complaining about. It even has crossovers with the main Star Wars comic and now a spin off of it's own (Dr. Aphra). So I don't think that diffusion is inherently bad, it's more a matter of degree and intensity. Marvel's main superhero line has had it turned up to eleven these last few years.
posted by Artw at 2:07 PM on April 27


(Also I still believe they fall under Marvel EiC Axel Alonso's control)
posted by Artw at 2:09 PM on April 27


A good question: how much movie revenue is driven away by bad comics? I suspect the answer is not much.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:12 PM on April 27


A shocker: I picked up a Secret Empire comic today and liked it a lot. Though it was Al Ewing's U.S.Avengers and he's a writer I trust far more on this territory.
posted by Artw at 2:16 PM on April 27


I read Secret Empire #0 today and I thought it was a pretty good comic. I guess I'm in the minority here because I've liked most of Marvel's events, at least as far as the main titles are concerned. I just wish they wouldn't require everything to cross-over into them but that is kind of hard to do when your event is talking about events that affect the whole world/universe.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:48 PM on April 27


Take a look at Marvel's Star Wars line if you want an idea of what it would -- and, I suspect, eventually will -- be like if Disney got hands-on with the MU.

Can you expand on this? I haven't read any of them, what's going on? Does it bode well or ill for the cape comics?
posted by whir at 4:48 PM on April 27


They're pretty much just a small line of comics from pretty good creators.
posted by Artw at 4:49 PM on April 27 [2 favorites]


Yep. If what Disney wants is to keep comics happening for (a) the sake of optics, and (b) as a workshop for new material, there becomes less need to glut the market -- you don't expect to make that much money anyhow -- and a greater need to produce good comics. Comics that get positive media attention and generate stories for your next crop of blockbusters. Marvel still operates like it's trying to dominate comics shops. Who cares about comics shops when you have movies that make a billion dollars? Eventually Disney will take on a more hands-on role.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:28 PM on April 27 [1 favorite]


Comics that get positive media attention

The only comics I can think of that got mainstream media attention were
  • Death of Superman
  • Death of Captain America
  • Hispanic Spiderman
Like, I’m assuming we’re talking about positive coverage in the trades here, yeah?
posted by Going To Maine at 7:33 PM on April 27


I mean, is this a question, or...

Just, no offense, but what even is this comment
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:57 PM on April 28


Just, no offense, but what even is this comment

Maybe I wasn’t thinking clearly? Speaking as a casual NPR listener and sometime nightly news-watcher, those are the only three times I can think of comics getting any sort of broad press - I guess the Coates run on Black Panther as well. Comic characters in movies certainly get plenty of press, but that’s because they’re movies.

So by “trades” here I was really thinking of dedicated comics websites and those run by sci-fi and fantasy fans - e.g. The Mary Sue. And I was trying to clear up the notion of a run of comics getting “positive media coverage” in that context - that comics will get positive coverage in those forums but not the general press before getting adapted.

Yep, so that was it.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:52 AM on April 29


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