Since it was first revealed that Captain America's reality had been re-written in such a way that the patriotic paragon of justice and equality now has been an agent of Hydra since he was a child, fan reaction has been loud and, in large part, negative. For months, Marvel Comics has faced criticism for the storyline, with many readers upset that the hero had been realigned with a villainous group, particularly one that had been long-associated with Nazism. That Steve Rogers was co-created by a pair of Jewish comic book creators, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, is a fact that has made the character change even more galling to many fans.
While Marvel has maintained its stance that the story does not have any anti-Semitic overtones, nor is the modern incarnation of Hydra a direct allegory for the Nazi party, the anger towards the storyline has not subsided. Now, in response to the ongoing fan and retailer criticism, the publisher has released a new statement asking readers to "allow the story to unfold before coming to any conclusion."
The statement, released to ABC News (which, like Marvel, is owned by Disney) reads, "With Marvel Comics’ 'Secret Empire,' the forces of Hydra have taken over and, due to the villainous actions of the Red Skull, have manipulated Marvel’s greatest hero, Captain America, and forced him to adopt their cause," the statement At Marvel, we want to assure all of our fans that we hear your concerns about aligning Captain America with Hydra and we politely ask you to allow the story to unfold before coming to any conclusion."
Citing the "passion" of fans as what keeps the company moving forward, Marvel added, "Captain America, will always be a cornerstone of the Marvel Universe who will stand up for what is right, and 'Secret Empire' will be the biggest challenge Steve has ever faced."
The ABC News story may bring fresh criticism, however, thanks to a paragraph which attempts to downplay the negative aspects of the actions of Hydra Cap and his organization. "For what it's worth, Cap and Hydra believe they are bringing order and strength to society by taking over," ABC's story reads. "As fans will see in the new issue, Hydra isn't completely seen as villains outside of Cap's inner circle either. Civilians and others in the book see their victories and start to believe Hydra may be a blessing instead of a curse."
“Secret Empire” #1 arrives in stores May 3, three days ahead of Free Comic Book Day (May 6). The nine-issue event will conclude in August.