ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
I've been thinking about Marvel's latest issue of fail. Clearly somebody ought to do something about this. Well, I'm Somebody.  If you want to do something about this nonsense too, I have a list of suggestions.

EDIT 5/31/16:  [personal profile] shiori_makiba has written two lovely poems that follow my story "Rotten Fruit." "A Good Man" shows Phil's musing about what makes a villain and what makes a hero, while waiting for rescue. "It Ain't So" features Tony helping to clean up the aftermath, in which he and Steve explain about bullies.

EDIT 6-1-16: I have added a scene about Hulk reciting social stories, and a new reference to kibbutzim.

This story fills the "caught in the act" square in my 5-1-16 card for the Solo Celebration Bingo fest.

This story belongs to the series Love Is For Children which includes "Love Is for Children," "Hairpins," "Blended," "Am I Not," "Eggshells," "Dolls and Guys,""Saudades," "Querencia," "Turnabout Is Fair Play," "Touching Moments," "Splash," "Coming Around," "Birthday Girl," "No Winter Lasts Forever," "Hide and Seek," "Kernel Error," "Happy Hour," "Green Eggs and Hulk,""kintsukuroi," "Little and Broken, but Still Good," "Up the Water Spout," "The Life of the Dead," "If They Could Just Stay Little," "Anahata," "When the Wheels Come Off," "Against His Own Shield," "Coming in from the Cold: Saturday: Building Towers," "Coming in from the Cold: Sunday: Shaking Foundations," "Coming in from the Cold: Monday: Memorial Day," and "What Little Boys Are Made Of."

Fandom: The Avengers
Characters: Steve Rogers, Phil Coulson, Hulk, HYDRA!Nick Spencer, Nick Fury, Clint Barton, Tony Stark, JARVIS
Medium: Fiction
Warnings: Defamation. Betrayal. Anger management issues. Rebellion. Ethical dilemmas. RPF. #sayitaintso. #nickspencerishydra.
Summary: A more plausible explanation for that issue of Captain America in which Steve is portrayed as a HYDRA agent.
Notes: Heroism. Team as family. Competence. Friendship.

A note on feedback: While it's not necessary to comment on every post I make, remember that I don't know who reads/likes things if nobody says anything. Particularly on long stories, I've discovered that I get antsy if there's nothing but crickets chirping for several posts. So it helps to give me feedback at least once, even if it's just "I like this" or "This one doesn't grab me." First and last episodes are ideal if you rarely feel inspired to comment in the middle.

I also have a list of favorite photogenic scenes from the whole series for fanartists to consider, partly compiled from audience requests.


"Rotten Fruit"


Metal screeched and tore as Steve Rogers continued to dismantle the dimensional portal. He had long since dropped the shield and resorted to pulling it apart with his bare hands. It reminded Agent Coulson that Steve Rogers had been a very determined pint-sized hero before Captain America even existed. Periodically Steve would glare over his shoulder, flex his hands a few times, and then go back to pummeling the device with his fists.

In the opposite corner of the room, Hulk carefully folded another office chair into the makeshift cage he was using to hold Nick Spencer, a HYDRA sleeper agent. They had caught wind of him going from one dimension to another, methodically destroying the reputation of Captain America and the Avengers, then finally tracked him down in Earth-1218. Hulk grunted satisfaction with the containment, then began reciting social stories -- from memory -- about bullies and the importance of stopping them.

"Mean people are bullies," said Hulk. "Bullies say mean words. Bullies hurt people."

"Tell that to him!"  Nick said, pointing at Steve.

Hulk snorted. "Know how to handle bully. Tell bully stop," he said. Then he leaned forward, close enough to breathe on Nick. "STOP. Say feelings. BAD. Tell grownup about bully." Hulk turned to look at Agent Coulson. "Bully picking on Steve."

"Thank you, Hulk," said Agent Coulson. "I'll make sure that Nick stops trying to get Steve in trouble." He was really looking forward to that part of the debriefing. Memories of surviving his own bullies in childhood made it very gratifying to deal with the ones he found in his current line of work. It was also encouraging to see how much was getting through to Hulk, from Game Night and other team activities, enough to give him more nuanced options than just smashing everything in sight.

Some of that must have gotten through to Steve, because he quit trying to tear the stub of a cable from the floor and turned around. "Thanks, big guy," he said. "I guess I still need a hand dealing with the bullies sometimes."

"What friends for," Hulk said, then went back to his story.

Nick Spencer did not seem to be enjoying the performance. His whole face twisted as if he tasted something sour.

Agent Coulson really did not look forward to telling Nick Fury that his cousin was compromised. The kid had been named after him, had grown up on stories of the Howling Commandos, joined SHIELD straight out of boot camp ... and now this? It was another punch in the trust issues that the Director did not need.

"What should we do with this ... garbage?" Hawkeye asked. One foot gave a pallet of comic books a disparaging kick. "I feel like I bit into an apple and found half a worm."

Agent Coulson looked away from the disturbing cover of Captain America holding a desperately wrong, triangular shield. His stomach lurched. He swallowed hard. "I don't know."

"Burn 'em," Tony said. He had taken off the Iron Man helmet and sweat slicked his dark hair against his skin.

"We can't burn books, Tony, that's a HYDRA tactic!" Steve protested. His voice hitched.

"Okay, okay, we'll think of something else," Tony said, waving his hands.

"If I may be of assistance?" JARVIS said, pitching his own voice through the Iron Man speakers.

"Yes, please," said Steve. He wiped a hand over his face.

"I recommend that you dispatch the offending materials to high school and college classes on literary analysis," said JARVIS. "You might like to target schools whose struggling budgets limit their access to suitable materials. Perhaps include copies of references such as the Aarne-Thompson Index and The Hero with a Thousand Faces to assist students in identifying heroic and unheroic motifs in literature. It is a useful life skill which also carries over into identifying trustworthy and untrustworthy individuals in politics or personal life."

"Thanks, JARVIS, that sounds fantastic," Steve said.

"It is a sound strategy to evade an enemy's attack and strike back directly at his core purpose," JARVIS said.

"Yeah. Hey, can we send some to the kibbutzim on my charity list? They're always scrounging for more supplies. Besides, I need them to know that ... if things go wrong, I want people to do something about it, not just stand and watch. Even if I'm the one having a bad idea that day," Steve said.

"Compiling now," JARVIS said. "Additional parameters, sir?"

"How many of those rags are in the pallet, and how many schools could we cover with that?" Tony asked.

"There are 40 long white boxes on the pallet, each of which can contain up to 300 comic books, for a total of 12,000. At 20 comic books per class, that would be 600 schools," JARVIS said.

"Okay, have the PR department bundle them that way, add the two reference books you suggested, and find somebody to draft a teacher's guide. Then peel off $6 million from my educational philanthropy fund and divide that among the schools to cover any incidental expenses. I'll leave it to you to figure out which schools would benefit the most from this project," Tony said. Then he looked at Agent Coulson. "Or do you need this crap for evidence?"

Agent Coulson hesitated. On the one hand, it would be useful, but they already had a roomful of evidence even if most of it now lay in pieces smaller than Steve could grip easily. On the other hand, they technically were not supposed to let alternate-dimension materials into the hands of the public. Then again, JARVIS had been explaining to him about "loss leaders," and Agent Coulson thought if they let people have something that was only a little dangerous, like a defamatory comic book, that might discourage them from trying to take extremely dangerous things like alien technology. At the same time, it would start teaching citizens how to think about and cope with complicated issues such as dimensional travel and HYDRA plots.

"Make it happen," Agent Coulson decided. He could bury the disposition of anti-Captain America comics in his report about Nick Spencer, and the Director would be too busy fuming over the personal issues to notice much else.

"What are we going to tell Director Fury?" asked Hawkeye.

Phil knew all about awful cousins. His mother had one drunken loser who never failed to insult their "broken home" and consequently was not welcome there. "I will tell him," said Agent Coulson, "that every family tree has some rotten fruit."

* * *

Notes:

Recently Marvel portrayed Steve Rogers as a HYDRA sleeper agent in this issue, which has caused considerable upset on political and personal grounds, with fans responding about how it has hurt them or their friends/families. Among the helpful tags in response to this outrage are #nickspencerishydra and #sayitaintso.

Earth-1218 is the Marvelverse code for our world.

Bullying involves many people in a circle of violence. It involves all kinds of personal attacks from the physical to verbal and identity abuse. Here is a slideshow about bullying. There are many resources to stop bullying and be an upstander. Finding usable references to stop someone from bullying you is difficult, as much of the advice is bad (ignoring the bully amounts to doing nothing which has a statistically insignificant 3% success rate) and the most effective response -- filing a lawsuit against the bully -- has a dismal 16% success rate.

Social stories are intended to provide explicit instructions for people with learning or social disabilities. Some of them are excellent. Others are terrible because they say things which are true of the neurotypical writers but NOT true of the intended audience of neurovariant readers. Social stories can also help English learners and others who find reading difficult, because they are customarily illustrated with vocabulary icons such as used on a speechboard. I figured they would be useful for Hulk in that regard. Social stories can introduce the concept of bullying, and explain how to stop a bully or stop being a bully. This one is more elaborate. Here is a video along the same lines. One of the interesting things about Hulk is that he is an emotional genius, not a linguistic genius, while Bruce is the opposite. Over the course of this series, Hulk is increasingly prone to give excellent emotional advice. In this case, he has decided that someone needs to hear it in ... very small words.

Book burning is a major red flag for tyranny, and the Nazis employed it, so logically HYDRA would too. Burning copies of Captain America because you don't like the portrayal of Cap as a HYDRA agent simply plays into enemy hands. Instead, fight back with good storytelling and literary analysis, because they hate that stuff. Hence this story.

The Aarne-Thompson Index includes volumes on plot and on motifs used in folktales and other literature. The Hero with a Thousand Faces is a famous analysis of different archetypes within the heroic character class. These are excellent references for anyone who wishes to pop the hood and study the mechanics of literature.

Comic books are often stored in long white boxes. One box holds 250-300 comics, depending on page count and whether or not they're bagged. This dealer mentioned stacking 40 boxes per pallet. So that's 12,000 comics per pallet. At 20 per class, one pallet would cover 600 schools. Plus Tony's ridiculously generous idea of funding to cover "incidentals."

Teacher's guides and lesson plans make a resource more valuable and easier to use. You can find these for the Holocaust and other controversial issues. Learn about character development, heroic traits, villainous traits, and how to create effective characters.

A loss leader is something cheap meant to benefit the company by influencing customer behavior. Most often, it is something sold below production cost to entice people into buying other things. But it can also refer to cheap junk set within easy reach so that people will steal it instead of taking more expensive items that are harder to reach, as many jewelry stores do.

The kibbutz movement is a type of intentional community in Jewish culture. Traditionally the children were raised and educated communally, and many o them enjoyed that camaraderie. This provides some insight on the value of equalizing educational investments. It seemed like something that would appeal to Steve Rogers, who grew up in an orphanage and had a Jewish mentor who helped him become a superhero.

EDIT 6/1/16: Knightinbrightfeathers has provided an additional perspective on kibbutzim. My exposure to them has been through the intentional community movement, which tends to feature those which are still focused on communal living are are doing well at that, and I figured that Steve would have tracked down those. Many others have changed from their origins and/or had further problems. So I am including this for a more complete picture:
"I just wanted to point out that kibbutzim have stopped communal education and housing. Most kibbutzim are private now, because of economical factors but also because the system was very flawed and given to corruption. Nowadays children who live in a kibbutz will go to a regional school, funded by the government and with the same syllabus and budget as any other public school. The unique educational system of the kibbutzim is now largely extinct. As a child to two parents who were both raised in a kibbutz, I can tell you that the amount of xenophobia and subtle class systems in them would be something Steve would hate. My dad came out of the communal living with a bunch of abandonment issues. He endured a lot of bullying, and nobody much welcomed the inclusion of an immigrant family. My mother has told me of the lax supervision children experienced, and the dangers this brought on, including cases of sexual assault. This is not to say that kibbutzim were without their good points. My mother has fond memories of her childhood. A lot of people chose to stay in the kibbutzim, which even now have a sense of community and provide a place for children to be more independent and experience something other than city life. Most kibbutzim are now privatized communities, aspects of which might still appeal to Steve, but nothing like the original kibbutzim built when Israel was new, with their spirit of pioneering, patriotism and love of the land. If Steve wants to donate to a Jewish organization, there are plenty of those, and plenty of universities that would happily teach a course on Erasure of Jewish Values from Popular Media or whatever strikes your fancy. I apologize for the essay. I don't like seeing Israel misrepresented, even if it is a positive misrepresentation."

Writing is powerful, both on a personal and a political level. Therefore writers and other intellectuals have a responsibility to use that power wisely, due to their influence on individuals and the wider culture. While people often think of power in terms of force, psychological and zoological studies indicate that more genteel methods are more effective. Here is a lesson plan about responsibility.

Now let's step over to another superhero famous for ethical considerations. Spiderman is known for the principle, "With great power comes great responsibility." Uncle Ben seems to mean the responsibility not to hurt people with it, especially if you are so massively overskilled that your opponent stands no chance; i.e. don't be a bully. Peter tends to interpret this as an obligation to go into crimefighting. Contrast this with supervillain standards. They don't care what other people need or want; they only care about what they want. The same applies to entertainers who don't care if they hurt people, just want to get their jollies, and if challenged will say "Who cares?" or "Just kidding," both markers for emotional abuse. The morality of superpowers raises questions because they threaten the status quo. But they also make us question whether the end justifies the means and how to handle the legal implications. Ordinary abilities raise similar issues when they operate on a larger scale, as with distribution of printed materials by a major publisher.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-05-31 04:28 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
incredible. perfect. wonderful. the cap as hydra thing is so fantastically upsetting, and the idea in this and in general, especially being used to explain to kids hurt by it, of nick spencer as hydra is... probably poetic irony, actually. love is for children is a Wonderful series and this is a Wonderful installment.

Re: Thank you!

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Thank You

Date: 2016-05-31 04:58 am (UTC)
shiori_makiba: Makiba Shiori in Kanji and Roman Letters (Default)
From: [personal profile] shiori_makiba
I needed this.

Re: Thank You

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Didn't grab me

Date: 2016-05-31 05:04 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Well, this one didn't really grab me, but I can tell it's something you wanted to get off your chest. I could have used more Hulk, though. When you wrote in the notes that he was using very small words to give someone excellent emotional advice, I had to go back and re-read where you glossed over his lecture and simply had him say three words to Steve. I would have liked to have seen a little direct speech from him as he recited at least part of one of the social stories.

Speaking of the Hulk, though, one day I'd like to see a story where the Avengers are having game night and they start rough-housing a bit too roughly, and Bruce gets a knock on the head that's just painful enough for the Hulk to come out. Then Coulson invites him to stay for game night and they all end up playing quietly together. I could imagine a simple board game like Snail's Pace Race, or maybe some fingerpainting. Well, just dreaming here. I know you have other priorities.

Zelofheda

Re: Didn't grab me

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This morning

Date: 2016-05-31 05:28 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Hubby read a story from a Reddit page to me -with the exact explanation (Nick Spencer is a Hydra agent determined to destroy Cap's reputation). The redditor used the idea to reassure his five-year-old nephew, who was in unstoppable tears, that the boy's hero was NOT a Hydra agent, NOT a bad man, NOT a villain.

The... person... who... dragged... that... dross.. into... print... (not to be confused with ANY definition of the word 'writer') should have KNOWN that fans of Captain America range from toddler age up to senior citizens. I honestly wonder whether the originator /enjoys/ traumatizing the defenseless, because otherwise there's no reason to portray Steve Rogers as a true-believer Hydra agent. Note that I have argued elsewhere that the differences between Hydra's and Shield's tactics are the stuff of theoretical hair-splitting; for all practical purposes, the /behavior/ is the same. The ideology, /especially/ in 1930's USA is very, very different. Flaws in our own history were events to be /ashamed of/, not taken as permission to REPEAT the behavior!

Re: This morning

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(no subject)

Date: 2016-05-31 06:52 am (UTC)
dru_evilista: A purple swirl (Purple Swirl)
From: [personal profile] dru_evilista
Love this. I can totally see Nick Spencer as a Hydra agent.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-05-31 07:00 am (UTC)
lilly_c: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lilly_c
I needed this.

I'm still mad at the way the writers of the new comic are saying "so what" to the criticism and over all furore. Rambling a bit then.

Maybe I can get own take on Cap is Hydra fic posted soon.

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Re: Thank you!

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(no subject)

Date: 2016-05-31 02:37 pm (UTC)
helgatwb: Drawing of Helga, holding her sword, looking upset. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helgatwb
Love this. It makes so much sense.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-05-31 02:41 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Picture shows a red-winged angel staring at a distant blue star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
Thanks.

I'm pretty het up about this one. May see if I can pull some fic out of it. I see your hopefully-soon-to-be-canonical tags and like them both; don't know much about comic!Steve but this is worth kicking back about.

Seconding that I'd like to see Hulk's take on the social stories.
Edited (confused future tense with present tense) Date: 2016-05-31 02:42 pm (UTC)

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Re: Thoughts

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Rereading this

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(no subject)

Date: 2016-05-31 05:05 pm (UTC)
applewoman: (Default)
From: [personal profile] applewoman
Thank you for writing this!

I love Captain America, and I've been carrying a wound around with me since I heard about the new comic. Your story helps with that.

I like your idea of fighting back with "good storytelling and literary analysis, because they hate that stuff."

(no subject)

Date: 2016-05-31 06:03 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I'm so happy to have another episode of this to read.

I haven't seen the Captain-America-as-Hydra comic, but it sounds almost like a fanfic au made canon. I do like your take on it, though.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-05-31 07:35 pm (UTC)
snippy: Lego me holding book (Default)
From: [personal profile] snippy
Fandom responds to wrong-canon with fix-its and boy am I ever grateful for this phenomenon. Thank you for a wonderful story that fixes the hurt caused by Marvel's decision.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-05-31 09:13 pm (UTC)
kyleri: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyleri
YASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS this is good (& was ENTIRELY needed)

YES

Date: 2016-05-31 11:02 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
YES. YES. YES.

I like the Avengers co-opting Spencer's piece of propaganda as a tool to educate. (Although it still frustrates me that the HYDRA sleeper agent known in this universe as Nick Spencer will profit from flat ~lying~ about Captain America for the sake of shock value.)

Love this piece. Thank you for sharing it.

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(no subject)

Date: 2016-06-02 02:02 am (UTC)
pinkrangerv: White Hispanic female, with brown hair, light skin, and green eyes, against a background of blue arcane symbols (Default)
From: [personal profile] pinkrangerv
THANK YOU. This is GREAT, and I hope you expand on this story.

Re: You're welcome!

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(no subject)

Date: 2016-06-02 07:20 am (UTC)
gehayi: (tears (gehayi))
From: [personal profile] gehayi
Thank you, Ysabetwordsmith. I needed this so badly.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-06-02 11:51 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I really love Hulk and the social story. It was absolutely wonderful, and it's nice to see. This is a lovely addition to the story, and much needed! Thank you!

~A

(no subject)

Date: 2016-06-04 06:29 am (UTC)
thnidu: colorful Hebrew calligraphy: JUSTICE, JUSTICE SHALL YOU PURSUE (Deut. 16:20). © Michael Noyes tinyurl.com/8nxrcwf (justice)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Thank you for this. For myself, thanks especially for the valuable debunking of the idealized, simplified view of the original kibbutzim in the halcyon days of the halutzim.

And "$6 million". That didn't hit me till the second reading.

The icon is pretty blurred because of the degree of reduction. It's from Deuteronomy 16:20: Justice, justice you shall pursue. (by & © Michael Noyes, http://www.michaelnoyes.com/images/products/product_45_copyright.png; used by permission)

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(no subject)

Date: 2016-06-04 04:31 pm (UTC)
technoshaman: (happydance)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
Such a way to wake up. Poke a Hydra in the eye, a good tag line, lo it has become canon, and something for my shopping list. <3 <3 <3 And a comments section every bit as good as Scalzi... nay, better, because every one of you lot is not just smart but deliciously crazy, each in your own inimitable way. "The best ones are always 'round the bend." -- Alice

(no subject)

Date: 2016-06-04 05:57 pm (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
\o/ The good kind of crazy. In comments.

You people are what I am talking about when I explain to people that, no, online conversations can be positive and non-scary. You just need reasonable, inclusive social norms and exploration of differences and common interests and people actually moderating things and well-written technological support for those things ... you know, all the work people want everyone ELSE to put into their social spaces. Oh, and not demonizing useful things because a distorted snapshot of one aspect of them has escaped into the mentality of the general public (e.g. content warnings). People can actually care about talking to each other and telling good stories. Wow. Newsflash, straight from the prehistoric campfire, now on your glowy hypnotic screen of choice.
Edited (misspelling) Date: 2016-06-04 05:58 pm (UTC)

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(no subject)

Date: 2016-06-11 02:13 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I'm not such a fan that this incident really hurt me, but this does illustrate once again why I'll take your Avengers stuff over Marvel's, any day of the week. ^_^

~Anony-Mouse

(no subject)

Date: 2016-07-18 02:44 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
i just wanted to thank you cause if it wasn't for you I would have never heard of the term asexual. I've been reading your work for about a year now and the "Love is for Children" series is my favorite to reread and this addition is just as great as the rest
(sorry that im not good at helpful reviews)
wishing you the best
-the acefangirl (aka mutt)

(no subject)

Date: 2016-07-18 02:46 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
also would like to apologize for how random sounding that was
-the acefangirl

Nick Spencer update

Date: 2017-01-06 05:10 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Have you seen Nick Spencer's latest rubbish?
When I saw it, I thought about this fic and how annoyed you would be.

https://fsmedia.imgix.net/76/75/99/03/c690/4658/94ed/1e08b7fc7021/trigger-warnings.jpeg?dpr=2&auto=format,compress&q=75

https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwicgOnsgK7RAhXF0xoKHRhlBwMQjBwIBA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fheatst.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2017%2F01%2Fmarvel-captain-america-social-justice-comic.png&bvm=bv.142059868,d.d2s&psig=AFQjCNGp9uModMvxvghqbgfxT7OXfxb8jQ&ust=1483808805038731

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