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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

So Yeah, I'm Pissed Off About This Too:

David Brothers and Ragnell have already made great, intelligent posts on the subject of Secret Avengers #21. I'd actually recommend reading them before you continue reading this, because they've said everything so much better than I can.

That said, I'm going to add my own angry reaction to this too.

Okay, so here's the page in question:

Okay, this is completely unacceptable for all the reasons that David and Ragnell cover in their posts. Steve Rogers may not be calling himself "Captain America" in this scene, but he is Captain America. The idea of Captain America saying this, even in bluff (and David confirms that it is no bluff, as the next page involves considerable violence), is completely abhorrent.

But you know what bothers me the most about this scene: that Steve Rogers would ever say, as he does in the last panel: "I don't believe in torture. It's ugly, dishonorable and unreliable. So I'm going to let my colleagues do it."

Emphasis mine.


Look, I admit, I'm a very hard sell in the idea that Steve Rogers would condone torture at all. It would have to be a VERY compelling, well-written, and carefully structured story (or set of stories) to allow me to believe character development that would lead Steve Rogers to a position where he found torture an acceptable route. I think that it's possible for someone to tell this story and have me believe it. This is not that story.

But more importantly, even IF Steve Rogers was ever in a position where he condoned torture, he wouldn't do it like this.

There are some character who, while moral, can take the "plausible deniability" stance. For example, when Cyclops established X-Force, he allowed Wolverine to keep him out of the day-to-day running of the team. I had no problem with this decision, because I think that it fit both with how both characters perceive the role of the leader of the X-Men. I think it's fair to say that Cyclops has developed over the years into a character who will uphold the letter of the law, but violate the spirit, in order to serve what he sees as the greater good.

Steve Rogers isn't that kind of person. Steve Rogers isn't that kind of leader. Steve Rogers, whether he goes by "Captain America", "Nomad", "Commander Rogers" or any other name, is a man of utmost integrity and courage. If Steve Rogers is going to violate a law, he will violate a law and he will not hide behind loopholes or plausible deniablity.

This "I'm going to turn my back and let my friends violate my principles for me, so I can keep my hands clean" thing? Out of the fucking question. If Steve Rogers is going to condone torture, he's going to condone torture. He's going to say something like: "I don't believe in torture. I think it's ugly, dishonorable, and unreliable. But right here and now, I think it's our only option."

He will own the violation of his principles.

Also, there is no way in HELL, he would turn his back and leave the room. Steve Rogers is no coward and he doesn't shirk his responsibility. If Steve Rogers made the call to condone torture, he would be in that fucking room. This doesn't mean I think he'd inflict the torture himself, of course. I honestly don't believe he has the capacity to do that. But he would be there to see it. As a matter of responsibility, he needs to see the consequences of his decisions through to the end.

I generally like Warren Ellis's work. I think he has a very distinct style and tone that suits certain heroes and teams better than others. I loved his Astonishing X-Men for example, and I think the above scene would not, necessarily, be out of character for Cyclops. But Cyclops is not Captain America. And Captain America would not make this call.

I am very disappointed in this issue. This is not my Captain America.


  • At January 12, 2012 4:23 PM, Blogger SallyP said…

    Good grief. Are the Skrulls still around? That's the only explanation for this.

    You're right. Steve Rogers doesn't take the weaselly way out.

  • At January 13, 2012 2:17 AM, Blogger Sleestak said…

    A bluff? Anyone would break if they thought Captain America was turning their back,on them.

  • At January 13, 2012 8:12 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Sadly, it's not a bluff. David has additional details here.

    I could live with a bluff, even if I don't really think it's his style.

  • At January 13, 2012 2:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This is not Steve Rogers. As far as I can tell, Warren Ellis can't even suspend his disbelief in genuinely good and heroic people. I continue to be boggled that anyone buys his crap.

    -- Jack of Spades

  • At January 14, 2012 3:29 PM, Blogger notintheface said…

    This is complete bullshit. I will also be adding my angry reaction, "Public Announcements" style, shortly.

  • At January 15, 2012 3:43 AM, Anonymous djack said…

    This *is* bullshit, but I have the vague sense that it's bullshit consistent with Bendis-era Avengers Steve.

    Here, God help us, is the Tony-Steve exchange from NA 6, when Wolverine signed up with the team...

    STEVE: Tony, he's a murderer.

    TONY: We're going to need someone who can go to that place that we can't. And you know exactly what I mean.

    STEVE: I wish that wasn't true.

    So, yeah, the whole reason that Logan is on the Avengers is that Tony and Steve decided they needed a hit squad but were too squeamish to do it themselves.

    I hate it. I mean, I grew up with Gruenwald-era Steve, who would've shut Tony down with a stony look and an honorable no, and... gah! I hate it, I hate it, I hate it - but you can't say it's not applicable precedent for an Avengers series in the Bendis era.

    Which is why I don't buy a lot of Avengers these days, frankly.

  • At January 15, 2012 3:58 AM, Anonymous djack said…

    Um... none of which is to excuse Ellis, I should stress. That was just a primal groan that has been waiting to be released for years.

  • At January 16, 2012 12:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This nation was founded on one principle above all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world — "No, you move."

    This is Steve Rogers.

    -- Jack of Spades

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