It’s no secret that the revelation that Captain America is a Hydra agent and has been quietly working toward remaking the Marvel Universe in his image has proven to be a controversial move from Marvel Comics. For months, writer Nick Spencer has been laying out the groundwork for the publisher’s current Secret Empire event, first with the reveal that Steve Roger’s history has literally been re-written so that he’s been a Hydra agent since he was a child, then by methodically taking players off the board, be they at Cap’s own hands or, as with the case of longtime sidekick and ally Rick Jones, through Hydra’s foot soldiers.
Through it all, Spencer and Marvel have made one thing clear: Captain America is the villain of this story, not the hero. This stance, of course, made the final page of Marvel’s big Free Comic Book Day Secret Empire story (illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino) all the more shocking for readers. How in the world could an evil Captain America be worthy enough to lift Thor’s enchanted hammer, Mjolnir? It has to be a trick… right?
“Oh, he’s really lifting it,” Spencer told IGN of the big moment. “People have their theories. There will be a lot of people who refuse to believe it, but sure does look like he really did lift the hammer.”
The story of how Cap is able to wield the legendary weapon is one that not only looms over the Secret Empire landscape, but dovetails nicely into what Thor writer Jason Aaron has been exploring for the past several years. Namely, the concept of “worthiness” and what it means in the Marvel Universe. As such, Spencer revealed that he and Aaron worked to gather to make sure their plans worked towards similar ends. “We’re going to talk a little about what the meaning of ‘worthiness’ is,” Spencer said, explaining that he and Aaron have figured out “other ways in which Thor and Asgard will connect” to the core Secret Empire story.
“Whoever can lift that hammer immediately receives a certain level of reverence and deference within the Marvel Universe,” Spencer said, acknowledging the fact that by picking up Mjolnir, Cap will likely pick up a few super-powered allies as well. “We know that picking up the hammer is a big, big deal, and very, very few people can do it… The message that it sends out to everyone across the world is a huge one. It’s sort of a credibility building moment for him. He’ll always be able to claim whenever people call him evil, or whenever people criticize the things that he’s done, he’ll be able to say ‘I lifted Mjolnir.’ So that’s another card in his deck now.”
Secret Empire #1 and #0 are in stores now; Issue #2, by Nick Spencer and Andrea Sorrentino, arrives May 17.