Nick Spencer Surprised “Captain America’s” Hydra Twist Is Controversial

Appearing at Comic-Con International in San Diego, CBR had the opportunity to speak with “Captain America: Sam Wilson” and “Captain America: Steve Rogers” writer Nick Spencer about the reaction of his controversial run on the titles — where Steve Rogers was recently revealed as a secret Hydra operative due to a Cosmic Cube-induced twist — and what’s in store for his “Civil War II” tie-ins and beyond.

Speaking with CBR’s Kiel Phegley, Spencer discussed the surprisingly kind response he got from fans at the convention — after receiving death threats and online hate for the Steve Rogers reveal — noting that, without fail, people are always nicer in person than they are on the internet.

“It never fails, and I was genuinely curious this time. 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.”

Spencer touched on the difference between both titles, and how he never expected the HYDRA twist to be such a big deal. “Both books are very much their own thing and the approaches to both are completely different really. 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.”

Captain America 7
Captain America 7

As for the theme of “Sam Wilson,” Spencer noted, “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.”

The writer also addressed his inadvertent commentary on the current political climate with his titles, saying he thought of the stories before the American presidential election really heated up. “What people forget is, I pitched the story well over a year ago, so the country’s in a very different place now than when we were first working out the details of this,” Spencer said. “So it’s funny when people look at the story and say ‘this is obviously a commentary on X,’ or ‘this is him injecting an opinion one Y,’ and I’m like, ‘this thing didn’t event exist when I came up with this.’ It’s interesting to me though how, in some ways, the story has become quite present.”

Spencer added, “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? 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.” By Anthony Couto