Non-comic book fans might not have heard of him before.
But US comic book writer Nick Spencer became the most notorious guy in the Marvel Universe more than three months ago, when he essentially turned Marvel superhero Captain America into a villain in the first issue of the comic book Captain America: Steve Rogers, which was published on May 25.
It ended with the revelation that the character is actually an undercover agent for evil fictional terrorist organisation Hydra, with him saying: “Hail Hydra”.
It was a move that shocked many fanboys, who started tweeting hateful comments and sending Spencer death threats on social media.
The 38-year-old is in town as a guest for this weekend’s Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention (STGCC).
At yesterday’s STGCC media preview, he told The New Paper: “It’s been a whirlwind couple of months, (but) it’s really nice when stories have this kind of an impact on the audience.
“I think I’m generally able to take (the hate) with a grain of salt and recognise that people say things on the Internet that they wouldn’t necessarily say in person.
“When it comes to social media, people let their passion get the best out of them.”
But the threats died down after the second issue of the comic book was released in June, and people started to see the bigger picture and understand that it was part of a story that Spencer and his team had been building for a while, which was that Captain America’s memories have been tampered with by Kobik – the sentient Cosmic Cube that assumed the shape of a four-year-old girl – who is under the control of the superhero’s enemy Red Skull.
Spencer said: “For the most part, I’m able to enjoy (my time of being infamous). It’s just a reflection of how passionate these people are about the characters (that they love), and people want to see the characters do well. So when someone does something bad to one of the characters, people get protective and defensive, and that’s okay, that’s a good thing.”
He added: “There was a whole month before people could get any answers, but it’s my job to keep readers on the edge of their seats and excited for the next issue, so we couldn’t just come out and say what people wanted to hear, which is that everything’s going to be okay.”
Spotted at STGCC 2016: 1/12th scale collectible of the Captain America statue recently unveiled in NYC’s Brooklyn borough.
Spencer, who has been with Marvel since 2011 and is a New York Times best-selling writer, is also currently writing for other Marvel comic books such as The Astonishing Ant-Man and Captain America: Sam Wilson.
And nothing would make him “happier” than to see his work adapted for the big screen as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, although it’s something writers like him “don’t have any say over”.
He cited how his peer Ed Brubaker revived the character of Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier in the Captain America (vol. 5) story arc taken from Out Of Time #6, which was published in 2005, and it “very quickly got turned into” the 2014 superhero blockbuster Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
“What we try to do is just tell the best story that we can, and if (Marvel) decide that’s something they can use, that would be amazing… fingers crossed,” he said.
Spencer is naturally a big fan of the Marvel movies and the latest offering, this year’s Captain America: Civil War, is probably his favourite.
For him, the Marvel Cinematic Universe definitely trumps the DC Extended Universe.
“I’ve not been a big fan of the DC movies so far. Out of the three (Man Of Steel, Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice and Suicide Squad), I felt that Suicide Squad was the best, but I’m not saying that I liked it,” he said with a laugh.
“I like the DC TV shows (such as The Flash) though – those are really well done.”
By Tracy Low, a version of this article originally ran on TNP.sg
Images: Tracy Low