Captain America: Steve Rogers and Political Commentary

Davis McCondichie Davis McCondichie
Contributor
July 23rd, 2017

I am a student at the University of Missouri, who is studying documentary film. In my free time, I enjoy watching movies of all kinds and reading the latest comics.

Captain America: Steve Rogers and Political Commentary
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Captain America's 'Hail Hydra' reveal left many fans reeling. ComiConverse Contributor, Davis McCondichie explores the layers of socio-political commentary in Nick Spencer's Captain America: Steve Rogers.

Captain America: Steve Rogers and Political Commentary

*Disclaimer: The political commentary discussed in this piece does not necessarily represent my views or the views of ComiConverse; it is a description and analysis of the issues found in Captain America: Steve Rogers. Thank You.

For decades, comic book writers have utilized their platform to speak on social issues. This modern era is no different. Perhaps the most compelling work of commentary lately has originated in Nick Spencer's Captain America: Steve Rogers. Spencer works through the most compelling of concepts to come out of Marvel recently: What if Steve Rogers had been an undercover Hydra agent all along?

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Steve Rogers

Credit: Marvel Comics

As Captain America attempts to save a train from a suicide bomber, the readers get to learn the bomber's backstory. The audience learns that Hydra is evolving slightly. They now recruit white nationalist and the alt-right supporters. The terrorist on the train is a victim of the opioid epidemic and through circumstance has tumbled into white nationalist beliefs. Red Skull empowers his friends and makes the would-be-bomber believe in himself. However, even in the end, he seems reluctant to go through with his duty.

Spencer explores many current fears and concerns just within this first scene. The audience sees many of the sources of real world fear: concern over terrorist attacks on public transport, the opioid epidemic blighting rural populations, the ripple effects of the 2008 market crash, and the rising violent threat of white hate groups. Spencer mixes all of those fears into one man's backstory showing their potential end point in his bombing attempt. But this is just the beginning, Spencer's run on Captain America continues to press on hot button topics from issue to issue.

As Captain America's story has developed, it has become an archetype for what an actual fascist regime would look like in America. After all, that is a fear on some people's mind, whether it's plausible or not. For example, issue 17 highlights Captain America, now leader of Hydra and ruler of the United States, and his interactions with the press. Rogers gives an interview with Sally Floyd, one of his staunchest critics. He utilizes it as a mouthpiece to show all the great things Hydra has done. As the conversation continues Floyd breaks their previous agreement and is jailed. This suppression of the press is another real world fear among.

Spencer is working through the fears people have about America's future. It is one of the most subtle political commentaries to date that still has an impact. However, one moment describes this more perfectly than any other. That moment is Captain America's turn to Hydra.

Steve Rogers

Credit: Marvel Comics

Readers of this series will find out that Steve Rogers has had his reality warped by the cosmic cube and Red Skull. That plot point should be the most obvious point of them all. Captain America is the symbol of truth and justice for all. He is the one incorruptible hero in the universe. He is the best of men; one who would never turn bad. Captain America is also, often, a stand in for the United States of America. In this story run, Red Skull and Hydra have meddled with his reality so that he will, instead, be on their side. In their bent reality, every value we hold has been turned on its head. Captain America: Steve Rogers is working through the issues Americans have with their country today. After all, what do you do when the one hero you hold in the highest regards seems not to be who he was?

Spencer develops this arc based on stories and events in our world. This story is an excellent read because it is fantasy. This is a way to work through issues by seeing them expressed in an artistic medium. Spencer engages in socio-politcal commentary throughout his run on Captain America: Steve Rogers and Secret Empire, but he never forces a good side and bad side on the reader. At the end of the day the audience knows Captain America is good at heart. Still, it is highly recommended that viewers pick up a copy of Spencer's work and make their own conclusions about what he is trying to say with his work. That is the beauty of comic books. They can start conversations we are afraid of having.

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Davis McCondichie is a Contributor for ComiConverse. Find him on Twitter: @McMccondichie

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