One of the many, many, many things that geeks have a problem with is coming to terms with the fact that, save for unlikely possibility of becoming a writer on something you love or becoming one of your favorite franchises corporate heads, we have little to no control over what happens to characters that we love. Pitch a bitch all you like, but at the end of the day, YOU do not have as much control as you think you do. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but swallow you must, and no amount of internet whining, protests or death threats are gonna change any of that.
Which is why I find the whole “Cap’s been an agent of Hydra all this time!” controversy to be both enormously hilarious an incredibly sad.
For the record, no, I haven’t read Steve Rogers: Captain America #1. I’m protesting it not on the grounds of the twist but because I will be damned if I spend five bucks to read a single issue of a comic book. Seriously, you wanna talk bad ideas in comics? Screw the definition of the all-American good guy becoming part of a supervillain organization; let’s talk about the ballooning of prices over the last couple of years. I mean, really, if it’s gonna cost me more to buy all the issues of something than it would to get the trade, why the hell shouldn’t I wait for the trade? Times are tough, man, and I’m not made of money.
No, Jordan, no. Stay focused. Get back to the point at hand.
Okay, first of all, why are all so pissed? I may have a lack of knowledge of the details, but this all looks like a Gotcha moment waiting to happen. I mean, we all know Steve isn’t really an agent of Hydra, right? It’s going to be revealed that is a clone or mind control or something like that, because that’s just how these things go (or it will, given the world class s#!*storm that coming down on Nick Spencer now). At best it’ll all be revealed to be a deep cover ploy or something. Stuff like this has been part of the superhero comics playbook since there’ve been superhero comics! What the f#%& is with all the anger?
But no, this isn’t about just the twist at the end, is it? It never is with these situations. It wasn’t that way when Mass Effect 3 was bitched at for its ending by whiner sets of internet fandom, either. It’s not about what happened; it’s about the attachment that so many people have to a franchise.
Given that, I’m going to give out this gem of advice:
LEARN TO DETACH
We geeks have a tendency to really get attached to franchises and stories we love. Sometimes our attachment can reach unholy and psychotic territories. Doing that also puts us in dangerous situations like using bullying and scare tactics to get what we want. This isn’t healthy, to say the least. So we all must just breathe, detach and get a little more rational on the situation.
Alright, let me explain something: when I say detach, I’m not talkin’ about giving up on Cap, Marvel Comics or anything like that. I’m definitely not talking about giving up on comics completely or becoming that guy who hates the Big Two and only buys indies because that’s how you feel cool. Instead, I’m talking about stepping back and repeating the MST3K mantra: It’s just an X, I should really just relax. I’ll give you a personal example. Oh, also, SPOILER WARNING.
In the same week all this has gone down, DC Comics releases DC Universe Rebirth #1 onto the stands. It’s a starting point for a sort of pseudo-reboot for the now five year old New 52 continuity. On the last page of that, we see Batman head down to investigate a gleam in the Batcave only to discover the gleam was from the Comedian’s smiley face badge. The issue ends on lines taken directly from Watchmen itself, heavily implying that Dr. Manhattan has been tampering with the DC universe for quite some time.
When I read that particular section of the book, I was filled with various emotions. Feelings like shocked disbelief, dread, and anger. Plus a mild laughing fit at the whole Meta text of the DC universe darker and more depressing ever since Watchmen ended it run in the mid 80’s.
Now, I love Watchmen. Who doesn’t love Watchmen? It’s called the Citizen Kane of comics for a reason, people. It’s possibly the most well written and well constructed story ever in the medium of comics, the characters are incredibly memorable and well developed, its twists and turns are all great, and it came to a satisfying conclusion. I’ve loved the book ever since I discovered it in my high school library and I’ve been a lifelong Alan Moore fan ever since. Hell, I ignored the whole Before Watchmen thing simply because I knew it wasn’t going to be as good, because nothing can.
So when I saw that full page spread of Batman holding the Comedian’s badge, I felt like I was staring into the abyss. Were they really doing this? What were they going to do? Would whatever big event that goes on ruin one the best comics of all time?!
Then I remembered to calm down. There was nothing that Geoff Johns (who I do like as a writer, don’t get me wrong) or anybody else could dampen that feeling I had for a book that was the best friggin’ thing ever when I discovered it in 2005 and still holds up to this day. My paperback copy of Watchmen was always gonna be there, and nothing is ever gonna replace it. Besides, as far as terrible thing with the Watchmen brand on it, it’s at least not the toaster.
Listen, my friends, and listen carefully: it is not healthy to get this pissed off with such a frequency. You got to learn to properly deal with this stuff. Put a little distance between you and the franchises you love. You can follow it when it’s good and ignore it when it’s bad. There’s no need for all this vitriol of a plot point you don’t like. Especially when it’s a plot point that you know is going to get revealed as a something else.