Opinion: On Fan Reactions

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Yesterday was quite the eventful day for the comics world as a whole. The amazing The Flash season finale. Minds being blown by DC Rebirth. And of course, the newest craze to hit comics Twitter, Steve Rogers being a Hydra mole all along. But that’s not what I’m here for today. It’s the reactions that made me want to write this.

Now while reactions are obviously part and parcel of comics and being a fan in general, I can’t help but feel the fandom has been overly toxic in reacting to this. The requisite death threats to writer Nick Spencer is there, of course, even some misdirected venom to longtime Captain America writer Ed Brubaker who hasn’t touched a Captain America book in years. And in that, I am disappointed at the fandom as a whole.

It’s okay to react negatively. I was upset when I first found out, too. The All-American hero we’ve been looking up to the past few decades was secretly Hydra scum all along, how could you not? But that’s what a story does. It makes you feel, it makes you react, it makes you either want to hug the creators and treat them for a drink of the story or rip their heads off and piss down their necks. And it’s perfectly fine!

What isn’t, however, is to send overly venomous threats to the persons involved in the story and misaiming vitriol to the people not even involved. Yes, we’re fans. We spend countless years and dollars to experience the latest adventures of our favourite heroes, only for him to turn his back on us like this? While it may be upsetting, there is something important to remember. In comics, Status Quo Is God. Look at the reviled changes in superhero comics history. Superior Spidey, Teen Tony, Heroes Reborn, even the New 52, they all come undone in time and the heroes we know and love eventually come back. And this too, shall pass.

There is also this disturbing trend of combining the canons of the movies and the comics together. One tweet I saw says that if this was true, then Steve was complicit in Bucky’s brainwashing into the Winter Soldier. No. The comic Winter Soldier is a Soviet creation without a Hydra hand in it. At the very least, check your facts before coming into social media whinging about things that are neither here nor there. Don’t be that guy/girl.

Also there’s a long game to consider, a scheme the writers have in mind that will make sense in time. Take a look at what Jonathan Hickman’s built up since his initia run on Fantastic Four, culminating in Secret Wars. Or what Larry Hama has built in his 200+ issues of G.I. Joe. Hell, even Spencer himself, revealing Mockingbird as an AIM sleeper agent in his Secret Avengers arc with Ales Kot, To M.A.I.M. A Mockingbird. These are the stories that might upset you at first, but will end up with you saying ‘you crafty bastard’ when you finish, and walk out with a newfound appreciation of the creators.

While we are fans and we have attachments to the characters that we know and love, just keep in mind that these characters are fictional and sending death threats to the REAL people creating these stories isn’t something Steve Rogers, Hydra or otherwise, would do. The only thing Marvel is at fault here is cheap shock value marketing, the comics equivalent of clickbait to drive up sales. While it’s a somewhat questionable tactic, it’s not worth sending death threats over.

The next time you encounter something like this again, I implore you to take a second, take a breath, and think before you fire off a nasty tweet to the person who came up with it. Things aren’t always what they seem to be at first.

When all else fails…just listen to this song.

(credit to Shaun/@RedRoomWriter for the Secret Avengers bit)

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