12:43pm PT by Graeme McMillan
Marvel Reveals Why Captain America Broke Bad
[Warning: This story spoils plot elements from Captain America: Steve Rogers No. 2. For those waiting to read the issue for themselves, click away now.]
A month after Marvel Entertainment's Captain America comic book relaunch revealed an unexpected secret about the star-spangled superhero, the second issue of Captain America: Steve Rogers has explained just why the most patriotic Avenger of them all has switched sides.
Although the second issue, created again by Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz, doesn't advance the story from the cliffhanger of the series' debut — which saw Cap apparently murder a superhero before pledging his allegiance to Hydra, the terrorist organization at the heart of Marvel's cinematic universe —it reveals the backstory that led up to that climax, in the process confirming that, yes, that really was the "real" Steve Rogers. Kind of.
The issue, narrated by the villainous Red Skull, reveals that he has used Kobik — a self-aware Cosmic Cube, essentially an omnipotent being, who sees itself as a pre-teen girl who mistakenly believes that the Red Skull is the good guy — has given Steve Rogers all-new memories in which he has been serving Hydra all along, which means that he really is working for a terrorist organization that is currently being presented as a racist hate group these days.
This revelation comes with multiple wrinkles that leave room for plot developments down the road. Not only is the exact nature of Cap's new memories left purposefully vague — are they fake memories, or has Kobik literally changed Steve's history altogether? — but it's heavily implied that the memories are based on Kobik's manipulated misunderstanding of what Hydra is, which is definitively laid out as a child's idea of a positive force in the world … which might mean that the revised Cap might still be revealed to have a strong moral code despite now being a "bad guy."
Given Kobik's ability to change reality, there's also the chance that nothing seen in the first two issues of the series is "real" inside the context of Marvel's comic book mythology, but instead a fantasy conjured by Kobik to please the Red Skull. After all, if false memories could be so easily conjured, why should the reader trust a villain's version of events — especially one as gleefully untrustworthy as the Red Skull?
The revelation that Cap was a Hydra agent enraged readers and fans when it was published last month; whether those same fans will find the idea more palatable now that it's been made clear that this isn't the "real" Steve Rogers, but a version altered by a former Nazi with the help of an omnipotent quasi-child remains to be seen. After all, for many, it's not necessarily how Cap broke bad that's the problem, as much as the fact that it's happened at all.
Captain America: Steve Rogers No. 2 is available in comic book stores and digitally now.