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[Warning: This story spoils plot elements from Captain America: Steve Rogers No. 1. For those looking to remain unaware of the issue’s climax, look away now.]
The first issue of Marvel Entertainment’s Captain America: Steve Rogers comic book series, released Wednesday, adds a surprising new wrinkle to the origin of the original super-heroic Sentinel of Liberty: He’s an agent of Hydra, and he has been since childhood.
In the final pages of Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz‘ story, scenes of Steve Rogers — returning to action as Captain America after temporary enforced retirement in 2014 — apparently murdering a fellow superhero by throwing him out of an airplane are intercut with a flashback sequence which shows Rogers’ mother being inducted into the terrorist group when he was a child, with the implication that her son followed in her footsteps. The issue closes with Captain America telling a prisoner, “Hail Hydra.”
If only for the simple fact that Marvel is unlikely to permanently turn one of its flagship characters into a member of a terrorist organization, it’s likely that there’s more to this revelation than meets the eye. Particularly confusing is the timeline of the flashback; readers see Rogers’ mother joining the group when the hero was a pre-teen, but Marvel’s comic book mythology traditionally has Hydra being created after World War II by a former Nazi. Either Hydra started earlier than expected, or the confused timing is itself a clue that all is not as it seems.
It’s worth noting that this development mirrors two earlier plot threads in Marvel’s comic book output in recent years: the first issue of 2008’s Secret Warriors suggested that Nick Fury was also an agent of Hydra — indeed, that SHIELD as an organization was actually owned by Hydra — while both Spider-Man and Iron Man have spent time as villains in the 2013 Superior Spider-Man and 2014 Superior Iron Man comic book series. Perhaps this is simply Captain America’s time to follow a new Marvel tradition and break bad.
The first storyline of the Steve Rogers title will reportedly feature a civil war between Hydra factions controlled by different despots; if Rogers remains an agent of the terrorist group, it’s possible that his charisma and skill could put him in charge of the entire organization before too long. Should someone should call Chris Evans’ agent and ask him how Evans feels about playing a surprise neo-Nazi leader in the next Marvel Studios movie?
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Sir Anthony Hopkins