Thursday, June 30, 2016

Nick Spencer is Hydra and why you should care


Plenty of Spoilers. If you are interested in reading Marvel's Captain America, Steve Rogers issues 1 and 2, I would urge you to not bother. But if you do want to, and wish to do so spoiler free, stop reading this and come back later.  For full disclosure, I have not read this series, and will not for reasons outlined here.  My knowledge of this story comes from online posts that either support or deride the story.  However, I have been a Marvel fan and have read comics passionately since the early 70's.

In the newest story line about Captain America, Steve Rogers has been revealed as a long time sleeper agent for Hydra. In issue 2, we find that the Cosmic Cube, a reality warping device, has change reality so that Steve was recruited into Hydra as a young child.  If you are having problems with the reality changing concept, think about it as someone went back in time and changed young Steve's life so he became a Hydra agent.  That's happens all the time in Star Trek.  As an aside, we always hated it when our Game Master used the reality changing plot device when we played Space Opera.

For those that fear this is a permanent change, fear not. When the storyline is done, and some time has passed to prove they are not just caving, reality will be changed again. Or it will be ignored and treated as if it never happened.

This does not excuse the betrayal of the writer and editor. I dislike betrayal more than any other plot device.  I dislike it even more in real life.  I believe this is wrong on many levels, more than I'm going to cover, but I'll break it down into the levels that are important to me right now.

It's a bad comic book story. #DontReadBadComics

I see an abundance of defenders of this story saying that, it's probably not people who go buy the comics that are complaining about this. They say that true readers of this comic know that this is a temporary change.

Ok, let's take a look at that. Are they saying that they are writing off anyone that does not read the story right now?  Obviously these fans are interested in the character, or they wouldn't be so angry.  So would it not be a better idea to write stories that will draw them in, instead of insulting them with both the story and the response to their outrage?

Next they are admitting it's a temporary change. How is that a valid argument? "Read my world changing story where I change the direction of this favorite character, that we are going to undo in a year."  That is just insane.

They admit that this story does not grow the character.  Worse, the story they are trying to tell goes against the nature of the story of this character. What do you think of when you think of Captain America? I would say integrity is in that mix in a big way. Patriotism is also high on that list. A story of betrayal is a misuse of this character.

I have also seen many references to how "fans" have been angry at Thor being a woman, and other changes they have made over the years.  These may be connected, but not in the way they think.  In most cases, especially Thor being written as a women, the anger was at bad writing.  There are ways that could have pulled that off that I believe would have been very interesting.  Instead, it came across as forced. They were determined to make Thor a woman, and that was the focus.  There was no attempt to tell a good story around it.

It's bad writing. #DontAcceptBadWriting

Godzilla is really a frog! Ha! did I shock you?  Read my story about how Godzilla is really a frog.  You're probably saying no to both those sentences.  If you were to read my Frogzilla story, it's going to be because you want to know how I could pull that off as a writer, not because Frogzilla is interesting to you.  I, the writer, become the focus and the story is secondary, if that much.  This is not writing. This is cult of personality.  This is egotism in the fullest.

A good story teller, or writer, pulls you into the story.  If they write about characters like I try to, they make you love or hate the character, but you are invested in that character.  If they write about situations or worlds, they take you there and make you live it.

I actually saw the Marvel editor responsible for Captain America say something to the effect of, "we think people will read this to see how we get out of it."  Not how Steve get's of it, but how the writers and staff of Marvel pulls off this betrayal and keeps their readers.  They have become the focus of the story, not Steve, Red Skull, or even Sam Wilson.

By the way, I do not have a story about Frogzilla, nor any intention of ever writing one.

It's bad mythology.  #HeroesAreImportant

I read someplace that Superhero stories are our myth and legends.  Who doesn't look to myths such as King Arthur, Robin Hood, and many more for inspiration?  I read a story many years ago that made Robin Hood out to be a woman.  Well, Robin Hood was still Robin Hood, but he was an average archer, and not much of a hero.  All the epic things attributed to Robin were actually done by Maid Marian.

It was an interesting story, and obviously has stayed with me a long time.  But it's one of the few books by this author I only read once.  That's fine for fiction, but when I need inspiration that can be satisfied by a hero that stands up to an overbearing government the people suffer under, I don't even think of that story, but of the legend of Robin Hood.

Steve Rogers is an Epic Hero.  A true Paladin in every sense of the word, except the ones about being a knight of Charlemagne's or a D&D character.  But I think this is the point Marvel is trying to destroy.  They want to tell a story that says, "no one can be that good.  No one is worth being looked up to."

One of my favorite quotes comes from C.S. Lewis "Since it is so likely that they will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter but darker. "  Marvel has set out to make this and the next generation's destiny darker.   There are no heroes; there are no brave knights to fight, or save, the dragons; heroic courage is for chumps.  I think of people who have done something heroic saying they simply thought about what would someone like Sturm would do.  

I choose that hero because I heard a story from the Dragonlance authors, who gave them his medal and told them when he was in the situation that earned that medal, his thoughts were, "What would Sturm do."  It left them speechless.  Me as well.

Marvel's mindset destroys that world.  This doesn't just make me sad.  This makes me angry, furious, incensed, enraged, and infuriated.

It's a political hit job. #PromoteGoodIdeas

You probably scoffed a little at the subheading.  "Rik, why bring politics into this."

I didn't.  The editor responsible for this travesty has said at least a couple of times that Nick was chosen for this project because of all his political knowledge.  Unless they have removed it by now, wikipedia says that Nick Spencer was a politician, a Democrat, before he became a full time writer for Marvel.  There are tweets posted by Nick about how evil Republicans are.  You cannot get a more bias political hack than Nick Spencer.

The story comes out in a presidential election year.  If you don't believe politics have influenced this story, and that this story is not meant to influence politics, you are not paying attention.

There is a segment of the population who does not like the people and institutions I believe are good.  Patriotism is considered bad form, unless you can redefine patriotism to agree with your bias.  The founding fathers are all evil white men who should be ignored as much as possible, unless their words can be twisted to your bias.  The constitution is a moldy irrelevant document, unless it can be made to support your bias. Captain America is a backstabbing turncoat, unless he can be corrupted towards your bias.

I'm tired of the attacks.  I intend on fighting back in the only way I know how.  I will write about good things.  I will, with respect, call out those I see degrade good institutions.  I will promote those concepts that I find good and worthy.

I will not be Hydra.