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Marvel’s Ego Leads to ‘Secret Empire’ Controversy

It’s no secret comic book fans are quick to judge. We read one issue of an entire storyline and decide whether it’s good or not.

In the old days, this wasn’t a big deal. However, nowadays social media has turned those complaints into a vicious pit of insults and death threats.

The most recent target of this hatred has been Marvel’s Secret Empire.

The crux of the disgust is aimed at the story that the Cosmic Cube was used to change Steve Rogers’ history and make him into a Hydra agent. That means that Captain America is working for Nazis.

Yes, current Hydra are not Nazis, but the fact that they started out that way can’t be ignored. The whole reason Steve agreed to the super soldier program was to join the war effort and defeat Hitler.

In response to the negative backlash, Marvel released a statement to ABC News urging fans to be patient, because patience and understanding is totally what comic book nerds are known for.

“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 to ABC News reads. “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.”

The deep anger over this storyline can be traced to the intense investment comic book fans make in these characters. We become intimately involved in their lives. We share their wins and feel their struggles.

Captain America is on the Mount Rushmore of Marvel and has been around for over 75 years, meaning his adventures have been passed down through several generations. He’s more about truth, justice and the American way than Superman.

“The passion of fans is what keeps the company moving forward and that 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.”

Marvel can’t spend decades building the tenements of a character then act surprised when fans are mad at you for changing everything.

Secret Empire 1 cover

Source: Syfy Wire

No one begrudges them the right to take their characters in whatever direction they see fit. Fans want new, creative stories. No one wants to read the same thing over and over. However, more thought should have went into this decision.

Another aspect to this that the company may not have considered is its connection to the films. Yes, it’s true the comics and the movies don’t happen in the same universe, however, whether Marvel likes it or not they are connected in fans’ minds.

When fans read a Captain America comic, they are picturing Chris Evans and for kids they can’t relate the hero they see on the big screen with the man currently hailing Hydra in the books.

Marvel has enjoyed unparalleled success in the last decade and the arrogance of this storyline feels like the company let its ego call the shots.

If we’re being completely honest, we all know that in the end there will be a twist, that’s how comic books work. Whether it’s an evil clone, time travel or just a complete retcon, the writers will find a way for Cap to come out of this and somehow still be America’s hero.

However, if that’s the case, then why put fans through this emotional manipulation just for the sake of publicity and sales, neither of which has been what the company wanted.

There’s an assumption that nerds will go along with and accept anything because we’re loyal.

We’re loyal not stupid.

It’s a lesson for all comic book publishers big and small, that loyalty should not be taken for granted.

As for Secret Empire, like many other longtime Marvel readers, I’ll check back in when this is all resolved and the next big event starts.

Source: ABC News

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