The Fury of a Retcon: Captain America

DSC01613

Gone are the days where I could pick up a comic book and have absolutely no idea that a major event was going to occur. Even if a major magazine or newspaper were reporting about the event, I could simply not read the media source. The interconnectivity of the Internet has changed that for comics, as well as movies, music and television.

It was without warning or any expectation that Facebook greeted me this morning in the “trending” category with the news that in the new Captain America comic book series, Steve Rogers is revealed to be an agent of Hydra.

According to Marvel Comics’ executive editor Tom Brevoort, it’s not that Rogers has turned evil and now has joined up with Hydra. Apparently, Rogers — the physical embodiment in comic books of America — has always been a member of Hydra.

Controversy! I feel the fury that only a retcon can bring coming off you already, reader. Allow me to explain this decision. Brevoort tells us that in the 1920s, Rogers and his mother were recruited by Hydra which, at the time, were going around and recruiting the poor and underrepresented with promises of… well, I suppose something better. It was sheer Hydra luck that young Rogers would end up in the Super Solider program and ultimately become one of the greatest heroes of all time, Captain America. But he was apparently the greatest double-agent of all time as well.

This isn’t a Skrull or some clone or robot or alternate reality Cap. It’s the Steve Rogers we’ve known all our lives. We are encouraged to go back and review all previous years of Captain America comic books. With our new understanding of the character, Brevoort insists, Cap’s motivations over the years become crystal clear.

cap_captain-america-bucky-1940

Hydra recruitment.

 

cap1

Hydra only allows five minutes.

 

And don’t forget:

cap17xzyw6b2e1igjpg

For Hydra.

But the motivations aren’t as clear as Brevoort states. It’s an easy trick of the mind to keep an idea at the forefront of our attention while revisiting old material. Thinking “Steve Rogers of Hydra” while reading old Captain America books will make you see him — possibly — as a villain. By that same token, why not reread every single old issue of Iron Man while thinking “Tony is always drunk”? Now every single action, activity and adventure — not just the “Demon in a Bottle” arc, which took place in 1979, 16 years after his first comics appearance — can be read with a rudimentary belief that Tony is sloshed.

Breevort also said something about the unusual nature of politics and presidential candidates today and how they influence the verbiage of one character in this series. Because comics should be just like real Life and not serve as an escape or a guide to how we can strive to be and achieve our best.

The answer to the question in your minds is, Yes. Yes, this is a gimmick. Just like Rogers’ “death” in 2007. Nobody thought then that Rogers would be left as a corpse. The reasonable bet is that Rogers’ status as a Hydra agent won’t last forever.

It’s fun to note that Marvel is celebrating Captain America’s 75th anniversary this year. What better way than to warp everything we’ve ever known and celebrated about the character than to alter the foundation of it. I can’t wait until I turn 75 so I can be retconned as a Brony.

Ultimately, the furor over this plot twist is misplaced.

These changes may be for the birds and do go against Cap’s backstory and the reasons his creators brought him into existence, but any emotional reaction only fuels Marvel’s continuance of this new version of Cap. They’re looking for anger, looking for you to be upset. That’s attention.

There are two appropriate responses here.

The first is to let your money talk. Don’t buy the issues. Don’t read articles by Marvel about how this version of Captain America interacts with the Marvel Universe. Don’t buy any issues of the Captain America: Steve Rogers series or any crossover books in which HydraCap appears. Pay no mind to baiting advertising for HydraCap. Simply don’t react. Or, react minimally like this guy:

capwhat

Best reaction

If we don’t care, it will go away eventually, retconned once again and replaced with either something entirely worse or — hopefully — a version of Captain America that makes sense.

The second response to this change in character is to remember that the best comics continuity is the one that exists inside your own mind. You’ve read comics and absorbed the characters for however many years; you have read back issues to the extent of your choosing. Captain America — and every other character you’ve read — exists as makes sense in your mind. The stories that work for you are a solid history. The rest are “alternate reality” stories at best.

One prime example for myself is Earth X, originally written to be the “last” Marvel story, but later relegated to being a story from an alternate Earth. I adore every element of Earth X, from its grittiness to its depiction of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes beaten down and tired from years of doing their duty. The explanation of Galactus is the finest I have ever read, which I apply to any story in which he appears, Earth X or otherwise. That’s my choice and works for the continuity in my head. Others who can’t stand Earth X are free to disregard it or not read it in the first place.

All of which is okay, and what makes fandom so intimate and personal and wonderful.

Your Geekdom is yours. Treasure that, in the ways that work best for YOU.

I lost a nickel: WWE Extreme Rules 2016

DSC01600

Extreme Rules, Sunday’s WWE pay-per-view, continued the “New Era” of wrestlers and storylines.

I watched it on its second airing on the WWE Network (for only $9.99). Despite having co-workers who are fans and received real-time results, I ducked and avoided all spoilers.

Days before, I made a bet with a co-worker about the outcome of the AJ Styles – Roman Reigns match. “I would bet that AJ Styles is going to win the belt,” I blurted out.

“I’d take you up on that bet,” my co-worker replied. And the bet was on. Five cents. AJ Styles, the next WWE World Heavyweight Champion.

Dammit, I lost five cents.

Before we get to the main event, let’s talk about the rest of the matches.

The Kickoff Show is, as typical, a whole lot of talk, practically none of which I actually listen to. These pre-shows are akin to that of any sports game. Thankfully, the WWE pre-shows contain matches and in-ring activity.

The Dudley Boys showed up, receiving an “ECW” chant. They talk smack about the “new era” superstars and New Jersey — the location of Extreme Rules — to which Big Cass emerges. This guy work the mic like a pro and gets the crowd behind him. He then dominates the Dudleys in the ring.

The Miz cuts the best promo I’ve ever seen by him. Presented as a heartfelt speech from a movie with inspirational music, he decides to do a second take, this time with more intensity.

Question and Answer with Rusev (and Lana). Rusev is speaking with better English than ever before. Rusev and Lana are a comedy duo. Love it.

A promo for AJ vs Roman Reigns gets me psyched. I am biased toward AJ and “The Club.” I enjoyed the heck out of their time as part of the Bullet Club in New Japan and ROH. My thoughts during this promo are “Please don’t break up The Club tonight.” Everybody knows that it’s going to happen eventually, but it’s too soon and I don’t need the heartbreak.

Dolph Ziggler loses to Baron Corbin. Good. Can Corbin move on to better feuds now? He’s only the winner of this year’s Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Winning said battle royal is supposed to signify a push or elevation.

Hooray! Main show!

Club members Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows face the Usos. I am a mark for the Bullet Club, these dudes in particular. Even when they eventually turn on AJ Styles, I’m still going to mark out for them.

toosweet_patch

This match is Tornado Rules, meaning all four of them are fighting at the same time. The fans are behind Anderson and Gallows. The athleticism is strong from all of the competitors. Anderson and Gallows win, which is a great start for me. What’s next!

As I expected, Rusev defeats Kalisto to win the United States Championship. During his finisher, the Accolade, Rusev bends Kalisto’s back like he was a rag doll. Does this signal the return of a dominant Rusev?

It’s The New Day, and they remain the W…W…E…World…Tag…Team…Champions! Glad I did not bet on this match, because my expectation was the Vaudevillains winning.

Fatal 4-Way for the Intercontinental Championship. Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens and Cesaro are going to be top driving stars for the WWE five years from now. In the meantime, their athleticism and unique personalities serve to solidify their spots in the company. And The Miz may be the best heel in the business. He is the only true heel in the company: the fans wholesale boo him and he plays up to that reaction. Heck, he’s been “The Miz” since his days on The Real World when he walked around with his own championship belt. Professional heel. I love it.

Blown away by this match. Zayn and Owens continue to establish what will undoubtedly be a career-long feud. They’ll go from being blood enemies to brothers and enemies once again. Ten years from now, we will look back and consider theirs to be one of the best feuds in WWE history.

Cesaro will be Intercontinental Champion in due time. For now, The Miz retains. I can’t wait to hear him gloat on RAW about his victory.

How do you top a Fatal 4-Way? Have an Asylum Match between Chris Jericho and Dean Ambrose. This match is in a cage. There are weapons: nunchucks, a kendo stick, a leather strap, a mop, barbed-wire 2×4….and is that the potted plant (“Son of Mitch,” according to JBL)?

There’s a bag of tacks. I cringe as the tacks end up in Jericho’s back. Ambrose then hits Dirty Deeds on Jericho, again onto the tacks, for the pinfall victory. After the match, Jericho continues to sell the pain of having tacks in his back and arm. He’s a pro.

Charlotte, Women’s Champion, faces Natalya. No Ric Flair at ringside. Both women are two of the finest female athletes in the company. Natalya executes a fine Sharpshooter. Just when it looks like Ric Flair is actually coming down to the ring, we find that’s it actually Dana Brook in disguise. This distraction helps Charlotte get the upper hand and lock in the Figure 8 for the victory.

Time for the main event!

AJ! The fans cheer. Roman! The fans still boo the hell out of him. When he loses tonight, he must turn full-fledged heel like he was in NXT.

AJ and Roman trade high-flying maneuvers. They’re fighting in the crowd, all the way to the pre-show set. Phenomenal Forearm!

They’re fighting on the German announce table. AJ springboards from the barricade, but Roman counters with a backdrop through the next table! That spot looked amazing, but fans are chanting, “You still suck” at Roman. He can’t catch a break from the WWE fans.

Roman hits a Razor’s Edge into a Senton Powerbomb on Styles and the fans chant “you still suck” again.

Hurricanrana by Styles!  Roman catches Styles and swings him into the LED board on the ring, then the barricade and powerbombs Styles through the Spanish announce table! It’s a great sequence, but the fans are chanting once again…

Reigns tries to spear Styles through the barricade, but AJ moves out of the way. Breather time for both competitors.

Phenomenal Forearm? Superman Punch! Spear outside of the ring! And now Anderson and Gallows are in the ring! Boot of Doom! Styles can’t get the 3-count. Now the Usos are in the ring. They superkick everyone in The Club. Reigns for the cover, but he can’t get the 3-count.

Styles hits the Styles Clash! Still can’t get the 3-count. Styles Clash onto a steel chair! Usos save Reigns from a pinfall. AJ Styles picks up the steel chair and wallops Reigns with it. He strikes the Usos repeatedly. He hits Reigns multiple times. The fans chant “YES” with each impact.

The Bullet Club mark in me is in heaven.

AJ Styles goes for the Phenomenal Forearm one more time, but is met with a mid-air spear. Pinfall!

Aaaaand I lose five cents.

The winner, and still WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Roman Reigns. Not the outcome I wanted, but this has been an exceptional showing for both men. Styles is a bloody professional. Roman looks great, despite fan reaction.

Wait a minute.

Is that?

DSC01608

SETH ROLLINS! SETH ROLLINS IS BACK! THE FUTURE HAS RETURNED!

He’s made a statement, laying Roman Reigns out with a pedigree. Seth holds the World Championship up high. The undefeated champion makes his message clear: he had to vacate the title last year due to injury; he was never defeated and is here to Reclaim the title that is rightfully his.

After his injury, Rollins created a mantra for himself: Redesign. Rebuild. Reclaim. And here he is, back in action earlier than expected.

What an ending to a highly enjoyable PPV. Overall, I enjoyed this one more than most of WrestleMania. Everybody put in their all for this show. I am hyped for Monday’s RAW.