Captain America writer Nick Spencer didn’t expect controversy from the Hail Hydra twist

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Hail hydra

“Hail HYDRA”. A fun pair of words to say when you hug a family member, but absolutely the last thing anyone ever expected Captain America to say a few months back when the star-spangled Avenger was revealed to be a deep-cover HYDRA agent. That’s all thanks to his recent rebirth, when a sentient Cosmic Cube named Kobik revitalised the Pensioner of justice and restored him to peak fighting prowess.

Thing is, Kobik happens to be under the thrall of the Red Skull, arch-nemesis of Captain America and who has begun orchestrating a new series of events to turn the first Avenger to his side. Because comic books. But here’s the thing: People went ape over the reveal that Nick Spencer wrote. Death threats and hate mail followed, as comic book fans took umbrage over the idea of a fictional character turning heel like a WWE wrestler in a steel chair factory.

“It never fails, and I was genuinely curious this time,” Spencer said to CBR.

Cap America (8)

I thought, if ever the rule was going to be broken, it would be on this,” Spencer said. “But just like every other time, for all the anger and fury on the internet, for whatever reason, when you’re in person and in the flesh, everyone is super sweet and super nice. The only thing I really heard today is just a bunch of people saying, ‘I’m so sorry that you have to deal with that,’ and I’m like ‘I know you’re probably secretly on Twitter saying you hate me, but I appreciate you being so nice.’

But no, people have been really fantastic here, so it’s really fun to meet actual people and have them say nice things.

The current Captain America book isn’t the only one that Spencer is busy writing, as he also turns in scripts for a partner book that features former sidekick Sam Wilson now wielding the shield as another sentinel of liberty. A book that Spencer was certain would ignite controversy, moreso than the Steve Rogers book at least. “Both books are very much their own thing and the approaches to both are completely different really,” Spencer said.

Cap America (9)

It’s funny, when the Sam book came out, that was supposed to be the controversial one. Now that seems like such a simpler time when it was just a few right wing websites that were mad at me.

With ‘Sam’ we’re well into a story now of what happens when you’re Captain America and you try and get down in the muck a bit — you take positions, you fight unpopular fights. That’s really the core of the ‘Sam’ book. And we wanted to make sure that when the plan involving Steve came into play, we didn’t lose that from Sam’s book. It didn’t just become reacting and responding to Steve’s story. We wanted to make sure that Sam carried on with the same narrative trajectory.

A trajectory that will soon collide with Steve Rogers at this rate. But there’s one idea at the heart of all this controversy: People who feel like they can’t trust those in power. “I think the interesting questions to ask about this story are: What happens when people feel they’ve lost faith in institutions? What happens when people feel their sense of idealism is gone?” Spencer said.

“What happens when they feel like their sense of idealism is gone and the trust in the people that protect them erodes? Who thrives in that kind of environment — who prospers? That’s really the kernel of the story. And I think as it plays out more, the parallels to what’s around us will be very apparent.”

Last Updated: August 17, 2016

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