Serpent Squad

anonymous asked:

Hayley Doesn't equal Peggy Carter! Not the same person; not the same opinion. Comic Peggy is incredibly supportive of Steve and Sharon because it's important so…

First of all, I absolutely know that Hayley and Peggy aren’t the same person. But Hayley *does* care a LOT about the character. Much more than a lot of actors do about the characters they play. If there is an actor that “gets” their character, it’s Hayley Atwell. At least in my opinion. 

Second of all, I’m going to need you to cite your sources for your second claim that Peggy is “incredibly supportive of Steve and Sharon.” I’ve never read or seen where she’s supportive. RESIGNED, yes, but not supportive. See, I’ve read all of Peggy’s appearances in the Marvelverse. At least I’m pretty sure I have. When your Ask came in, I went and pulled my books, just to check. I own an original Tales of Suspense featuring Iron Man and Captain America #77 (1966)–which is Peggy Carter’s first “on screen” appearance in the Marvel Comics (sorry to brag, but I’m kind of absurdly proud of owning that). 

Okay, in Issue 77, Steve is sitting in his apartment and looking sadly at a picture of Peggy. He’s reminiscing about the war and says losing her was the first great tragedy of his life. It flashes back to their time in the way and the last time they saw each other. Now, keep in mind, that in the original Cap timeline, he’s only TWENTY years out of time. That’s important to know. Steve is assuming that Sharon is probably dead because if she were alive, she would have contacted him by now–because everyone knows who Captain America is now (in the war, Peggy didn’t know his true identity-no one did). However, what he doesn’t know is that Peggy has lost her memory and has had amnesia for the past 20 years (caused by a head injury she suffered). What’s obvious is that Steve is STILL in love with Peggy. 

In Captain America and Falcon # 179, Peggy finds out that Steve is still alive. He goes to her. Peggy is *thrilled* and wants to pick up where they left off. Keep in mind, again, the original timeline. Peggy is about in her early 40s at this point. Steve is in his twenties. So there isn’t a huge age gap between them yet (again the moving timeline). Steve, however, is already with Sharon. Sharon, in the original timeline, is Peggy’s SISTER. And Sharon looks very much like a younger Peggy. Anyway, Steve very callously CRUSHES Peggy’s hopes of them working together again (she wants to also pair up to fight crime) or getting together again. Peggy is CRUSHED. 

In Captain America and Falcon #184, Steve and Peggy run into each other on a SHIELD mission for the first time since he told her that it was over between them. Peggy is PISSED and HURT, still. Steve takes Peggy aside and apologizes for his behavior, which he *knows* was dickish. Now, this is the issue where the comics start the Peggy/Gabe Jones relationship, which I do ship and hope to see in Agent Carter. Anyway, this exchange happens between Peggy and Steve (the bolded is what’s bolded in the book): 

Steve: Mademoiselle, I want to tell you how sorry I am for the way I talked to you outside of Sharon’s apartment that night. I shouldn’t have done it the way that I did. Maybe I shouldn’t have done it at all. 

Peggy: No, you were right, Cap. What we had was thirty years ago. That was a different world, then. I’m like you, I think. I’ve had to learn today isn’t yesterday…and I think it’s a good thing.

Now, the thing about this is, yes, Peggy says that she now agrees with Steve. BUT just two panels before, we SAW that she was still upset and angry. However, what choice does she have here? Peggy has her pride and she’s not going to beg Steve. But Steve was totally still pretty recently in love with her and mourning her. But then he finds out that she’s alive, yay, but…well, she not as young and as pretty as she used be. So he’s with her much younger SISTER who looks JUST like her. Also, Steve and Sharon initially HIDE their relationship from Peggy because they KNOW she’s going to be upset. Not “supportive.” 

At the very end of Captain America: Peggy Carter, Agent of SHIELD, the collected book of Peggy’s canon adventures Marvel released in anticipation of the Agent Carter show, there’s a detailed bio of Peggy in the very back. It’s a synopsis of her entire canon story. It’s very interesting. Let me quote directly from the book, the CANON STORY, in regards to what is says about the Peggy/Steve/Sharon relationship (in bold): 

Taking the codename Agent 13 in Peggy’s honor, Sharon teamed with Cap on several SHIELD missions and they fell in love, partly because of Sharon’s remarkable resemblance to the younger Peggy, though Cap was unaware the two women were related. 

Okay, that? ^^^^ Is very sketchy to me. Remember that Sharon knows who STEVE is because Peggy has told her all about him. In Brubaker’s Winter Soldier story, Steve says to Sharon, AT PEGGY’S FUNERAL, that he thought she WAS Peggy when he first saw her–because they look THAT much alike in the comic books. 

Feeling disloyal to Peggy because of this Sharon repeatedly refused Cap’s marriage proposals and eventually tried to end the romance. Meanwhile, Peggy had sunk into another period of depression and amnesia.

I’m skipping a bit about Dr. Faustus pretending to treat Peggy in order to get insight about Steve’s “psyche.” 

Cap and Peggy  were reunited, and Cap finally learned how Sharon and Peggy were related. Cap also resumed his romance with Sharon, but they initially concealed this from Peggy, not wanting to set back her mental recovery.

This is pretty strong evidence that Peggy is not “supportive” of a Sharon/Steve relationship. 

Her memories of the decades since World War II hazy at first, Peggy had difficulty accepting how much she had aged, assuming her romance with Cap could simply pick up where it left off. After aiding Cap, Falcon and pacifist Dave Cox against the criminal Serpent Squad, Peggy offered to become Cap’s partner in crime-fighting, and was crushed when he rejected her. Still remarkably fit despite her advanced age, Peggy joined SHIELD so she could refresh her old wartime skills AND BE CLOSER TO CAP (caps are my doing).

The bio goes on to tell us about Peggy’s romance with Gabe and Peggy’s further adventures with Steve and SHIELD–which are really cool BTW–and her later work as Communications Officer and Crew Support for the Avengers. 

Here’s the last bit in Peggy’s official bio. It’s regarding her later years in Larkmoore Clinic where she’s institutionalized: 

On her good days, a mentally sharp Peggy entertains the facility’s staff and residents with her stories, the rest of the time, she thinks the war is still on, and that she and Cap are still young and in love.

That’s it. That’s the end. At least until we see her funeral in The Winter Soldier. It’s clear, at least to me, that Peggy never got over Steve. Yes, she “moved on” with Gabe, but….well. I have nothing against Sharon as a character, let me be clear, but her relationship with Steve is problematic on several levels. And always has been. From the very beginning. But maybe I’m wrong and Peggy DID somewhere give her sincere and non-bitter approval of Sharon/Steve. Please feel free to send me the issue numbers or images. But as of right now, my Notp-ing of Staron comes directly from the comics. Yes, I know that Peggy’s story is somewhat different now in the MCU, but the thing is, her MCU story makes me even LESS likely to ship Staron. Why? Peggy has been given a much, much larger role in the Marvel universe. She’s been given a much more influential role in Steve’s story. MCU Steve and Peggy are very much set up as soulmates and parallels in each other’s story. MCU Steve isn’t going to get over Peggy and hook up with her niece. MCU Steve would have never done that if he was his comic book counterpart. Dude, if Steve woke up and Peggy was alive and ONLY in her 40s? He would be comic book Peggy and want to pick up where they left off. 

I think the Marvel TPTB *know* how carefully they have to tread if they are going to do Staron, because it’s so “…..” in the comics. I think the casting reflects this. Emily VanCamp looks remarkably like Sharon Carter from the Brubaker run. It’s really really good casting. However, Hayley Atwell looks nothing like canon Peggy (who’s blonde and blue-eyed). But they could have cast someone who resembles Hayley to play Sharon. But they didn’t. Because that aspect of the history of the Peggy/Steve/Sharon triangle is incredibly damning. So now they look very different and their relationship is another generation away, but… the fans remember (just like the North remembers). 

As I wrote about last time, it was getting a pair of Marvel comics that put me off of the brand for several years. One was an issue of THOR, and the other was this issue of CAPTAIN AMERICA. I should mention, for context, that this is the final part of Steve Englehart’s long Watergate/Secret Empire/Nomad sequence, an absolute classic in the character’s history. But with that said, I hated this comic book, and didn’t quite understand it–and I don’t think it’s too difficult to see why.

For one thing, the artwork in the issue was done by the idiosyncratic Frank Robbins. He was a master illustrator, but modern super heroes were not his greatest forte. His figures tended to lurch awkwardly across the page, contorted into weird poses, and his style had a scratchy almost dirty look to it–his faces weren’t especially attractive. Robbins was a student of the Milton Caniff school of comics, and that simply wasn’t what I was looking for at the time.

For another thing, the set-up of the series at this point wasn’t incredibly well articulated, so I was terribly lost from the get-go. To make this worse, during this era I routinely skipped over reading the caption boxes–I found them dry and boring, and often like doing work. So I didn’t really get the idea that this Nomad guy was actually the real Captain America, and the guy we would see in a few pages was an untrained substitute. 

So the story opens up with Nomad (who as I mentioned earlier, is actually Steve Rogers, the former Captain America) in battle with one of the most ludicrous Marvel villains ever conceived, Gamecock. This guy makes Captain Boomerang and the Top look like serious players. Nomad is on the hunt for the Falcon, who is missing, but he’s outmatched by Gamecock and his men, and it’s only the appearance of a bazooka-wielding mystery man that ends the skirmish, with Gamecock and his buys escaping over the rooftops.

The Falcon’s tough-talking girlfriend Leila doesn’t have any info to share with Nomad, so it’s back over the rooftops–where Nomad comes across protesters who have gathered in support of the recently-incarcerated Serpent Squad. Nomad drops down and tries to give them the true facts of how the Squad weren’t heroes at all, but the crowd isn’t biting, and it’s a full-on riot before you know it. Nice going, Cap!

Things get worse from there. Peggy Carter and Gabe Jones haven’t got a clue to give Nomad, and neither does Harlem crime boss Morgan (though he does admit to sending Gamecock out to kill the Falcon.) Nomad tries to find Luke Cage on the chance that the Hero for Hire will know something, but not only does he not locate Luke, but Nomad also spends several panels casting aspersions on the fact that he’s a hero for hire, rather than 100% altruistic. Additionally, there are bank runs taking place all across the city. When Nomad intercedes, he has a conversation with a citizen who has bought into the big lie that Captain America was corrupt. Poor, sad Nomad continues on his mission.

Nomad tries calling Professor X for help, but the Beast is similarly of no assistance. Finally, though, just as hop is beginning to look lost, Redwing, the Falcon’s pet bird, swoops down, and leads Nomad across the city, to where the dead body of Captain America is hung from a smokestack.

Now remember, when I was first reading this, I didn’t understand the characters and their relationships. So, for me, I thought that this was the actual Captain America who had been killed and humiliated. This despite what the pathetically trussed up Falcon reveals to Nomad–that the Red Skull, incensed that the person he was battling was merely a stand-in, slayed the substitute Cap Roscoe and hung him up as a warning.

From there, Nomad monologues for two pages about everything that he’s been through, that he doesn’t want to be Captain America any more, that he was a naive fool. It’s a pretty heady climax to this whole situation for Steve and Englehart–but to a seven year old kid with no real understanding of the issues involved, it was boring as hell. 

Coming to the inevitably conclusion, Nomad doesn’t even bother to cut Roscoe down or see to his bodily remains. Instead, he dashes off across the city again, doffs his tattered Nomad costume and resumes his identity as Captain America. And I, as a young reader, was thoroughly dissatisfied. Despite all of the running around, nothing had happened, the story was continued into another issue again (which was vexing in those days) and the artwork was strange and unattractive. From this point on, I was very loud, especially to my parents, about the fact that “Marvel Comics suck”, trying to make certain that they would never again accidentally buy me the wrong brand of comic book. I was so obnoxious about it for so long, in fact, that when I did start reading the Marvel books again several years later, my Dad gave me regular crap for it. I can only imagine how he’d have reacted to the fact that I’ve now worked for Marvel for 27 years…