Last week, comic book fans lost their damn minds. It isn’t the first time that it has happened, and it won’t be the last time that it has happened, but it happened nonetheless. Last Wednesday, DC Comics and Marvel Comics both made waves with major plot twists, which elicited awe from some and anger from others. Guess which ones were the loudest.
Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for DC Universe Rebirth #1, Captain America: Steve Rogers #1, as well as many more older comics discussed in the video.
In DC Universe Rebirth #1, Geoff Johns penned a love letter to the DC Universe, bringing back fan favorite Flash Wally West to throw some major shade at the New 52 and call for some much-needed hope and optimism. It also revealed that the villain who stole a decade from the DCU timestream, effectively causing the New 52 and retconning decades of storytelling, was none other than Doctor Manhattan from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen. It was a bold move, especially considering Watchmen‘s relative sacred cow status among many comics fans, and it polarized many readers.
Even more divisive, though, was what happened in the pages of Captain America: Steve Rogers #1. In the final pages of the book, it was revealed that Captain America has secretly been an agent of Hydra for the entirety of his existence. It was, by all accounts, a shocking revelation, and one that sent many fans into a rage spiral. People took to the Internet to voice their displeasure at the twist, telling writer Nick Spencer how he had ruined the character, and even making death threats against Spencer and Marvel editor Tom Brevoort. Now, when you’re writing a comic, especially one with a huge reveal like this, you obviously want to elicit a response, but not that kind of response.
Both The AV Club and Birth.Movies.Death have published excellent essays on the modern culture of fan entitlement, in which fans feel such a deep, personal connection to what they love that they feel the creators are responsible to them personally. However, as anyone who has read comic books for longer than one minute can tell you, nothing in comics is permanent. Plot twists come and go with the ebb and flow of the tides, as major reveals and reversals are washed away or replaced by newer, crazier ones in the name of both storytelling and sales. Kyle Hill and I addressed the backlash to Marvel’s shocking Captain America moment on Nerdist News, as well as why you shouldn’t freak out just yet, but on today’s episode of The Dan Cave, I wanted to illustrate that what happened here and in DC Universe Rebirth #1 is not a new trend; rather, they’re the latest entries in a long-standing tradition of comic book creators pulling the rug out from under us to elicit a reaction — namely, one of “whoa, what the hell just happened?!”
Now obviously this is but a small swath of comic book history, so let me know what your favorite WTF-worthy comic book moments and storylines are in the comments below. And remember, while it’s more than okay to have a visceral reaction to the stories you read and to dislike certain plotlines, you don’t have to resort to empty threats to do so. You’re better than that. We’re better than that. Fandom can and must be better than that.
Don’t miss a single episode of The Dan Cave! Subscribe to this playlist.
Tired of getting kicked out of restaurants for being topless? Buy a The Dan Cave t-shirt!