Captain America, the sentinel of liberty. The first Avenger, a hero who probably leaves star-spangled deposits in a toilet before he flushes. Marvel’s greatest hero. And also the subject of one of the most heated twists in comic books ever since people realised that Starfox’s entire powerset consisted of him literally mind-raping anyone who got in his way.
It’s been in all the news as well, with just about every hack with a keyboard putting their own spin on the Captain America revelation: Steve Rogers has been a HYDRA agent all along. Marvel was promising the biggest twist in the history of ever, a plot-180 that would have put M Night Shymamalan to shame. And they kind of achieved that, in a “HUH WHANOW” manner.
On the surface, it makes no sense. This retcon that way back in the days of the Great Depression that Roger’s mom was convinced to serve the nefarious terrorist organisation, with Steve joining its ranks not long afterwards and playing a long game as America’s greatest super-soldier. It was as left-field as you could imagine, but at least issue #2 of Steve Rogers: Captain America makes sense of the whole mess. Spoilers ahead.
Prepare for a flashback baby. Told entirely from the point of view of the Red Skull himself, issue deux doesn’t deal with the fallout of Rogers shouting Hail Hydra but more the why as Nick Spencer reveals the latest plan in motion from the former Nazi super-agent. It’s somehwat refreshing to have answers right off the bat, with most fan theories regarding the HYDRA twist turning out to be true: It’s all the doing of Kobik.
Long story short, SHIELD got their hands on Cosmic Cube fragments, which gave birth to a reality-warping being known as Kobik who assumed the form of a young girl. SHIELD wanted a new super-prison, Kobik built it and dozens of villains were sentenced to a life in Pleasant Hill that resulted in them getting new memories and personas to be law-abiding citizens. It’s kinda weird, but Spencer’s script is tight and on point with this recap.
Thing is, Kobik has an attachment to the Red Skull that goes way back to World War II, and the two had formed a father and daughter relationship that the Skull used to his advantage. It’s also somewhat frightening to see how good of a parent the Red Skull can be when he puts his mind to it. Here’s where the twist comes in, as the Red Skull and Kobik have been messing with personalities and inserting memories into people for months now. At the very least, the Red Skull comes off as a far more interesting villain, an agent of hate with the mental powers of a god and the boredom to match it.
Hence why Captain America believes that he has been loyal to HYDRA all this time. There’s no doubt that Captain America’s betrayal was done last month for shock value, but at least now we have a plausible reason behind it, thanks to Spencer’s script and some strong art from Jesús Saiz. Say what you like about the revelation feeling cheap or inspired, but it’s going to be real interesting to see just how far Rogers is willing to go with this new status quo.
Last Updated: June 30, 2016