How Secret Empire Revealed The Darkest Secret Of The Comic Book Industry

We have a problem but it isn’t what you think

At this point everyone and their mother interested in superhero comics must have stumbled upon one article or another railing against writer Nick Spencer and his “sacrilegious” treatment of Captain America aka Captain Hydra for his fans, for Nazi Steve for his friends.

Never mind the fact that a lot of the complaints coming from people who consider “making Captain America a Nazi because Trump” highlights everything that is wrong with the modern identity politics phenomenon, it also highlights a fact within the comic book industry:

The fact that no one seems to actually be reading these books.

Now, this is not a big shocker for anyone. If half the people complaining about certain changes to comic book characters, two thirds of these books wouldn’t be selling as little copies as they are, always teetering at the brink of cancellation.

This leads me to my second point: if I’m wrong and people are actually reading these books before complaining about them, then the education systems all around the world must be worse than they are reported to be, because it implies that everyone failed basic reading comprehension. 

I will not pretend that I have read the book. I’m currently back in that phase where I hate all comics for the third time this year. But I do know people who have read the book and have shared certain panels from the book. Based on just anecdotal knowledge and a couple of frames here and there, I know that the Captain Hydra story line is about making a point. That point is not that being a Nazi is awesome. It is about slaughtering a sacred cow, the sacred cow that is Steve Rogers: perfect human being.

In many ways this was Marvel’s downfall right there when they let Nick Spencer do this book. Marvel Comics has spend decades pushing Captain America as the perfect human being that is always morally correct by having him always be on the “right side” of every single argument and making him a perfect moral person in every movie and adaptation. Once you have done this and turned him into a Nazi, you shouldn’t be surprised that at least half of your audience will think that you are sincere.

This isn’t Marvel’s problem alone though, far from it. There persists this notion among students of literary studies and similar fields that every writer immediately agrees with everything all of his characters say because “they put something of themselves in there”.

And lastly… this is just perpetuating the problem, if you think about it. I haven’t read the book either and here I am making arguments for why people arguing from a position of ignorance are dumb. Maybe I just have a thing right now for self-demonstrating pieces, but if we really want to be taken seriously in our discourse about anything than we have to be intellectually honest enough to actually try to know what the hell we are talking about.


Author: Alex

Full time student, part time "writer" of things.

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