No, Marvel Didn’t Change The Hydra Cap Story To Appease Fans

A lesson in how comics are made.

This includes spoilers for Captain America: Steve Rogers #2.

Tomorrow Captain America: Steve Rogers #2 comes out, and it reveals the full truth behind the sensational shocker from #1, where it was revealed that Captain America had been a Hydra agent since before WWII. It was a stunner, a cliffhanging jawdropper, an exciting moment and it caused a huge shitstorm of ignorant controversy. It caused, perhaps, one of the most profoundly ignorant backlashes I have ever seen, and I have been on Twitter since like 2007, so that's saying something. 

People sent death threats, people accused Marvel of anti-semitism, people talked about how the events of the comic emotionally harmed them (!), but I suspect a lot of people didn't actually read the book. Because if they had, writer Nick Spencer had made it pretty clear what was happening - a sentient Cosmic Cube was futzing with the histories of Marvel characters. It was technically a mystery, but it was obvious to anyone who had read a Marvel comic before. 

Usually those kinds of mysteries get to play out longer, but issue 2 of the comic explains the whole thing - what happened to make Steve Rogers think he's Hydra, when it happened, and how the Red Skull is involved. The release of the book has been preceded by some interviews with Marvel staff, and they have happily given the game away: Steve has implanted memories placed by Kobik, the Cosmic Cube, which is now controlled by the Red Skull. 

And as soon as that info hit the web I saw people on Twitter saying Marvel was backtracking, that this was a U-turn, that the anger of fans had made this happen. I was stunned that people have so little understanding of how this stuff works, so let me explain it to you:

This comic was already written when the last issue was released. Hell, I bet it was already drawn and inked and well into being colored when that first issue blew up the internet. Nobody made a U-turn; this was always the story. That's how long it takes to produce a comic; the first issue of my comic, The Killer Inside Me, hits in August but my final script for the issue was delivered in early May, and I've already turned in the script for the second issue. I'll probably have issue 4 written by the time issue 1 hits stands. That's how long it takes to make comics. 

The other claim hitting the web today is that Nick Spencer and Axel Alonso, editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics, lied to the public during the press scrum for Captain America: Steve Rogers #1. They said that Cap was not mind controlled, and now people on the internet are calling phooey - he's clearly mind controlled by the Cube!

Except no. Cap has had false memories implanted. He's been reprogrammed to believe certain things about himself and his life, but he's not being controlled. He's in control of himself, it's just that the data he uses to make decisions from moment to moment has changed. He believes he's always been Hydra, and he acts accordingly. The reason this is a big difference is because I am 99% sure how this all ends: Steve is such a decent guy that he is able to break through the implants. It will come down to a big nature versus nurture debate, and the question will be was Steve Rogers raised to be good or is he innately good, and I think his innate goodness will eventually get him past the implants. That is a very different outcome than if he beat his mind control; it's important that no one is controlling Steve because what he's fighting against isn't an outside influence but rather his own altered perceptions.

Anyway, Marvel didn't make a U-turn. This was always how it was going to play out. This is how serialized storytelling works.