(photo credit: YOUTUBE SCREENSHOT)
When fans ran out to grab Marvel Comics’ “Captain America: Steve Rogers #1” on its release Wednesday, they were not expecting this. Captain America discloses in the issue that he is in fact a secret operative of the evil, formerly Nazi organization, Hydra.
The dramatic twist happens right on the last page, as Captain America prepares to throw his supposed ally, Jack Flag, off an airplane, presumably to his death, and exclaims, “Hail Hydra!”
Even Chris Evans, who plays Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, most recently in “Captain America: Civil Wars,” was shocked.
Writer Nick Spencer assured readers that this isn’t a gimmick or a trick: Captain America, whose alter ego is Steve Rogers, is going to remain a secret Hydra operative, and the next issue will explore how he came to be a double-agent for the sinister organization.
In recent years, Captain America aged out of top fighting form, making way for a new generation or superheroes, like the Falcon. The new series launched by the latest issue magically restores his youthful looks and abilities.
Some interpreted the twist as a slight to the character’s Jewish creators, Joe Simon (born Hymie Simon) and Jack Kirby (born Jacob Kurtzberg).
Captain America was conceived in 1940, while World War II was raging in Europe and the United States was still staying out of it. For Simon, creating Captain America was consciously political. He was disgusted by the actions of the Nazis in Europe and wanted the U.S. to intervene.
The first issue of Captain America showed Captain America punching Adolf Hilter. It sold nearly a million copies.
Some suggested the outrage over Captain America’s Nazi reveal is exaggerated. After all, this isn’t the first time Captain America has worked for Hydra, according to The Beat editor Heidi McDonald, and Kirby himself once drew the beloved superhero saluting Hitler (even though it was all due to mind control).
Still, Jessica Plummer, a writer for the comics media outlet “Panels,” was among those upset by the development, saying it was in poor taste in a world where anti-Semitism is not a thing of the past, and is in fact, very much felt during this election cycle, especially from the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, who she writes “spouts fascist ideology that echoes Hitler’s rise to power.”
“I am angry, because Steve Rogers’s Jewish creators literally fought in a war against the organization Marvel has made him a part of to grab headlines,” she wrote.
Many of Marvel’s iconic superheroes were created by Jews. Spider-Man, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Thor and the X-Men were all created by Stan Lee, who like Simon and Kirby, is the son of Jewish immigrants. Kirby co-created the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and the Hulk.
Yet very few Jews have actually been represented in the comics’ pages. Simon and Kirby may have modeled Steve Rogers childhood after theirs. Like Rogers, Kirby grew up in the 1930s in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, as did Lee. But the character is the son of Irish immigrants.
Joe Simon sued Marvel twice for the copyright for Captain America. He settled both cases out of court. The prolific comics writer died in 2011.