SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for “Captain America: Steve Rogers” #1, on sale now.
So CBR once again turns to Marvel veteran editor and Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort to step in and anchor the weekly AXEL-IN-CHARGE Q&A column. As anyone who follows his Tumblr knows, Brevoort is no strange to A’ing Qs, and he once hosted his own regular Friday afternoon chat on CBR, TALK TO THE HAT. He’s been with the company since starting as an intern in 1989, and as Executive Editor oversees some of Marvel’s biggest books and its major event series — including the upcoming “Civil War II.”
RELATED: “Captain America: Steve Rogers” Reveals Cap’s Shocking [Spoiler]â€¨
And when it comes to major Marvel topics this week, one definitely overshadowed the rest — the unexpected ending of “Captain America: Steve Rogers” #1 by Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz, which revealed that Steve Rogers — the beloved, patriotic superhero icon — is secretly an agent of Hydra. And according to a flashback sequence in the issue, that might have always been the case.
It was a legitimately shocking moment — Marvel wasn’t even teasing a surprise reveal in the issue — and one that sparked a great deal of discussion encompassing a wide range of reactions, including fans who were genuinely upset that the publisher would put the character in such a position, even if it’s only a temporary plot twist. Brevoort, the editor of the “Captain America: Steve Rogers” series, discussed the reaction and ensuing controversy in detail, and explains his veteran perspective when it comes to approaching high-concept left turns like this — comparing it to Bucky returning in the “Winter Soldier” story arc and “Superior Spider-Man,” which placed Doctor Octopus’ brain in Peter Parker’s body for an extended period. Check back with CBR on Monday for part two of our interview with Brevoort, which includes his thoughts on the soon-to-debut “Civil War II” #1, the upcoming new Marvel NOW! publishing initiative and DC Comics’ “DC Universe: Rebirth” one-shot.
Albert Ching: Tom, the surprise ending of “Captain America: Steve Rogers” #1 definitely dominated online comics talk this week — on the same week when another rather big comic book came out from another company. You and Nick Spencer have done a ton of mainstream press about it, from Time to Entertainment Weekly. Were you surprised by how much interest and reaction there’s been to the big twist?
Tom Brevoort: I think we knew that there would be a reaction, I don’t know that anybody anticipated that there’d be this much of a reaction. It really is, to me, analogous to 10 years ago, when at the end of “Civil War,” we killed Captain America. I’m now getting the kind of mail — in some cases, almost verbatim the same letters — that I got 10 years ago, it’s just that people have effectively crossed out “killed” and written in “Hydra” over it. But it’s very much the same sort of thing. A lot of the mail that we’re getting is coming from people who are not reading our comics, but who are fans of the character from the films, or animation, or just seeing him on toy shelves and so forth. They’re tending to have a skewed vision of what’s happening in the book, based on either the reporting, or just the headline of the reporting, or just what they’ve been told about what the story is. It’s unfortunate that it’s made so many people so upset, but I think the actual story that we’re telling is something that we can stand behind.
There’s been a spectrum of reaction, from those just genuinely surprised, to those a bit more jaded about it, and also people who are legitimately let down by the development. I’ve seen the interpretation of those making a connection between Hydra and Nazis — likely at least in part because of the connection between the two in Marvel Studios films — who are concerned that Captain America now in some way represents anti-Semitism. Have you seen that reaction, and if so, do you have a response?
Brevoort: We’ve certainly seen that reaction. There’s plenty of email that’s coming in, a lot of which, quite honestly, is form letters — somebody has written a basic form letter that people can add their name to, almost like a petition. The feelings behind those form letters are genuine, though. The whole situation is very representative of the way information is reported and consumed these days. The actual contents of that comic book, and the revelation that Captain America says “Hail Hydra” at the end and is a Hydra guy, gets turned into, “He’s a Nazi,” and then that gets turned into anti-Semitism. Obviously, there is a very strong feeling about anti-Semitism. That’s a genuine, real-world issue, and that’s not what we’re doing in our story. I can also see how people, particularly if you’re just reading the news accounts or hearing about the accounts, or reading somebody summarize the news accounts, how it can play into the game of telephone; to go from what’s actually in the comic to Captain America the anti-Semite Nazi. But it’s not actually that at all.
This is very, similar, in a sense, to the kerfuffle a couple of years ago around one of Rick Remender’s “Captain America” issues, where there was a lot of outcry stirred up by people who insisted Sam Wilson had sex with an underaged character, despite the fact that the character’s age was given in the comic. That was a case where somebody was very upset with what they thought it was, or had an agenda and put that view out there and was loud enough about it, about an issue that is very close to a lot of people, and struck a nerve and they responded in kind, without actually having all of the information of what the story was about. When you actually went and looked at the story in question, it wasn’t at all the thing that was being talked about.
I get this response. I totally understand it. I can’t say I was specifically ready for it — I don’t think it particularly crossed our minds that people would say that this issue of “Captain America” contains anti-Semitic undertones. But again, I can see how people get to that conclusion, and I can totally understand how people would be upset about it. That said, these charges are based on huge intuitive leaps concerning the material. Marvel would, under no circumstances, condone anti-Semitism.Â If people want to conclude that this is what we’re doing, that’s their prerogative, but there’s a story to be told that will challenge that assumption.
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