After the events of “Avengers: Standoff!,” Steve Rogers was reverted from his old wrinkly self back into his young, super-soldier form by Kobik, a sentient cosmic cube who had taken on the form of a little girl. But this little girl had been raised by the Red Skull, and she was made to believe that the best version of one’s self was one under Hydra. And so, in a bit of a shot heard around the world, it was revealed that this newly rejuvenated Steve Rogers was secretly an agent of Hydra.
“Captain America: Steve Rogers” writer Nick Spencer and artist Jesus Saiz offered us an intricate and carefully detailed tale of a man whose past was changed down to its most fundamental levels, a tale that, in its entirety, would lead to an event called “Secret Empire.” With that event now in its opening salvo stage, CBR decided to look back at the 16 worst, most heinous things Captain America has done as an agent for Hydra so far.
SPOILER WARNING is in effect for “Captain America: Steve Rogers” and “Secret Empire.”
16. THREW HIS PROTÉGÉ OUT OF A PLANE
Back in “Captain America: Steve Rogers” issue #1, readers had no idea yet that this new version of Steve Rogers was secretly working for Hydra. They picked up the issue and read a rambunctious story of Captain America back in action, trying to stop Hydra from destroying a train full of hostages and capture Baron Zemo. Accompanying him on those missions were his old allies and protégés Jack Flag and Free Spirit. This was all classic Captain America comic book goodness.
However, things took the darkest of turns when Jack Flag disobeyed Steve’s orders and saw what he was really after in the form of missing scientist and fellow Hydra agent Erik Selvig. To keep Selvig a secret, Captain America regrettably had no choice but to kick Jack Flag out of the plane they were on. It was then that Steve then muttered his now infamous “Hail Hydra” line, sending fans everywhere on a frenzy and even going so far as making the 6 o’clock news.
15. BECAME BEST FRIENDS WITH A NAZI
In Steve’s re-written reality and past, he spent the better part of his youth training at a Hydra facility. Functioning as a type of boarding school, Steve was taught Hydra’s values and constantly trained to earn his place as an agent of Hydra. But as scrawny Steve Rogers, he was still weak and under-performing in any and all physical challenges. His academic skills and fearless ambitions were strong as ever however, and that landed him on the wrong side of the school’s bullies. But Steve wouldn’t have to fight this fight alone.
As a fellow student, longtime Captain America villain and Nazi Helmut Zemo came to Steve’s rescue, starting a strong friendship that would last a lifetime. In Hydra school, they stood at each other’s sides and Zemo helped Steve every way he could, even along on his mission to America. Their friendship was so strong, in fact, that Steve managed in the present day to convince Zemo that the reality he knew was the real one, and that Zemo had been tricked into forgetting their status as brothers. With a hug, their friendship resumed once more.
14. PARENTS KILLED BY HYDRA, JOINED ANYWAY
When Steve was a young child, a woman named Elisa Sinclair took a suspicious liking to the young boy. Secretly a witch working for Hydra, she arranged for Steve’s abusive father to meet his end at the bottom of a bridge. Then, when Steve’s mother caught on to that fact and tried to disappear, Elisa found her and though she didn’t want her dead, one of her goons didn’t hold back. Steve was hiding under the bed and saw it all.
He cried for his mother, screamed for her to return, but Elisa calmed him down, and told him she would be fine, that he would see his mother again. Steve listened and stayed at the Hydra facility all his young life, became Captain America at Hydra’s behest and fought in the war until Hydra found itself on the losing side, all the while trying to accept that his mother was dead. It was only then that Elisa sat Steve down and revealed that she hadn’t been lying, and that his mother was in fact alive. He hugged his mother dearly, thinking all his life that she had been killed at the hands of Hydra.
13. TRIED TO STEAL PROF. X’S BRAIN
For quite a few years now, the Red Skull was an even more dangerous opponent thanks to his upgrade in powers. Once he had gotten hold of the deceased Professor Xavier’s brain, he took its powers for himself , using Professor’s telepathic abilities for evil. It took a long time to defeat him, but eventually, the Avengers Unity Squad, a team made up of Avengers, X-Men and Inhumans, managed to defeat the Red Skull and remove Xavier’s brain from his head.
In “Uncanny Avengers” vol.3 #22 by Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz, Beast had barely finished the surgery when Captain America stormed into the hospital with a team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in the hopes of taking the brain from the team and Rogue’s hands. It turns out that this brain that belonged to his old friend and ally was crucial to his plans and he needed to take it away from the X-Men. Thankfully, Rogue managed to get away from him and Steve was forced to find a backup plan to execute his nefarious goals.
12. TRIED TO MURDER A YOUNG MAN
“Civil War II” by Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez erupted out after a young new hero, an Inhuman by the name of Ulysses, developed his powers — the gift of seeing the future. Both Tony Stark and Carol Danvers disagreed on what to do with the knowledge that came from the young Inhuman. One wanted to use his powers, while the other believed that this power couldn’t be trusted. After an attack that led to the tragic death of War Machine, the two heroes started a war over Ulysses and how best to use his powers.
But there was a third party hiding in the pages of “Civil War II” all along. As seen in “Captain America: Steve Rogers” #5, we came to know that Steve was afraid that Ulysses, with his precognitive powers, would come to learn that Steve was a secret agent for Hydra. So, Steve set out on a mission to kill the young hero, only to be stopped, unseen, before he could deliver the fatal blow. As it turned out, Iron Man was also in the room, and he kidnapped Ulysses in a move that was his declaration of war.
11. JOINED THE HYDRA HIGH COUNCIL
When Elisa Sinclair re-surfaced in the present day as the new Madame Hydra, we saw her travel all over the world as she recruited allies to her cause. Starting with the tentacled monster Leviathan, the previous Madame Hydra Viper, the mind-controlling expert Dr. Faustus, the deadly and mighty Gorgon, the evil genius-now-living-in-a-robot-body Arnim Zola, and finally the new keeper of secrets, the mysterious Kraken, the new Hydra High Council was formed.
But there was one seat left, reserved for the Supreme Leader. It came as no surprise then that, when it was time for Hydra to attack, when it was finally time to put their plan into motion, Captain America was introduced to this new council as their Supreme Leader. This was a position Steve had fought all of his long, Kobik-revised past to reach. Believing in the fundamentals of Hydra, believing them and their values to be the real answer, Steve finally took his rightful place at their table.
10. INFILTRATED S.H.I.E.L.D.
Before Steve Rogers was named Supreme Leader of Hydra, he also reached another leading position on the other side of the spectrum. After the Pleasant Hill debacle, Maria Hill was forced to pay for her past mistakes and questionable judgment as the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. by a tribunal. Forced to step down from her position, Steve pushed strongly for his longtime love and fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Sharon Carter to obtain the top spot. But surprisingly, Sharon turned the job down and nominated Steve instead.
This turnaround might not have been part of Steve’s original plan, but it was one that he chose to embrace. Living a life of constant surprises, he had worked very hard to make sure he was always ready for any and all eventualities. With this new position, Steve knew there would be more scrutiny, but he also saw opportunity. As director of S.H.I.E.L.D., he had more access, and even more influence than before. He had all that he needed and more to put his plan into motion.
9. MANIPULATED IRON MAN TO FAIL
When both sides of the conflict came to blows at the halfway point of “Civil War II,” the battle was interrupted when Ulysses’ evolving powers showed every fighting hero a new vision of the future, one where Captain America was dead at the hands of Miles Morales. This played heavily into everyone’s thought about the conflict. Everyone, that is, except Steve Rogers, who accepted his fate if it was meant to be. But Iron Man and Captain Marvel were still fighting over Ulysses.
And so, the day before the final fight, Captain America had a heart-to-heart with Iron Man. Tony spoke of how surprised he was at them both being on the same side of a dispute for once, but also of how glad he was for it, seeing as if he was on the same side as Captain America, that that could only mean that he was on the absolute right side. What Tony didn’t know however, was that Steve needed Tony to lose this war. And so, Steve played Tony’s mind and his feelings. He made him question and doubt himself, something that led to him losing the war, and his seeming death.
8. READY TO KILL HIS “FATHER”
Before he became Captain America, when he was still but puny Steve Rogers devoted to the Hydra cause, Steve took on a mission from his superiors to travel back to America and take out Doctor Abraham Erskine, the man responsible for Operation: Rebirth, the man who could turn the tide of the war in the Allies’ favor, the man who would make him Captain America. Steve accepted his mission without thought or concern and worked at a diner Erskine frequently visited for reconnaissance.
Steve still managed to impress the warm and loving Erskine with his strong heart and became the ideal choice for the doctor’s experiment. But, the day before Steve’s transformation, he was invited to Erskine’s home. There, Steve took out his gun. The good doctor pleaded with him, tried to convince him that this was not the person he was, that he could still be good. Steve hesitated and was all but ready to pull the trigger, only for his best friend and handler Zemo to do it for him.
7. MANIPULATED THE AVENGERS
Ever since we have known that Steve was an agent of Hydra, we have seen him kneel to the Red Skull, but always at a distance. The Red Skull always appeared to him in the form of a hologram. This was due to the fact that the Red Skull, armed with Charles Xavier’s telepathic brain, could have easily seen inside Steve’s mind had they been close to one another. He would have seen that Steve was not under his control, as he so arrogantly believed.
Secretly plotting to take the Red Skull down, Steve couldn’t dare approach him for fear of discovery, so he manipulated the Avengers Unity Squad – the Uncanny Avengers – to do it for him. Comprised of Deadpool, Rogue, Brother Voodoo, Cable, Quicksilver and Synapse, the team was disbanded by Captain America himself in his genius-but-nefarious plan to trick them into thinking that fighting the Red Skull was their idea. Something that they accomplished admirably.
6. ORCHESTRATED AN ALIEN INVASION
Steve’s plan to control the world and establish a Hydra rule is largely dependant on an alien attack. As he has said multiple times, he strongly believes a theory established by a man named Ivan Kragoff, aka the Red Ghost, a theory that stipulated that allowing an alien attack on the world would effectively dwindle its over-saturated population. That would cause an upheaval, one that would open the door for worldwide change: a means to an end, an opportunity.
The Red Ghost had already established that such an alien attack could be carried by the Chitauri race. Similar to insects in some regards, the Chitauri oblige by a Queen, and when they do not have one, they will search for one and let nothing stand in their way. As it turns out, Steve has a man in his employ out in Montana, a farmer harvesting some very peculiar eggs. Chitauri Queen eggs. In their search for it, the Chitauri attack Earth in waves of millions, and there is only a Planetary Defense Shield in their way…
5. SENT SUICIDE BOMBER TO DESTROY PLANETARY SHIELD
In a bid to bribe/threaten the tribunal that was to decide her fate as the Director of SHIELD, Maria Hill introduced a Planetary Defense Shield, a literal shield that would cover the entire planet and protect it from any form of alien invasion. While Maria would still be taken down as the Director, Carol Danvers took it upon herself to oversee construction of the shield to help in her fight to protect planet Earth from all threats that emerge from space.
With the Chitauri attacking in an army that stretched back to the ends of our solar system, the Planetary Defense Shield was Earth’s best defense. But then, Steve Rogers dispatched a Hydra suicide bomber at the shield’s base station. The detonation took the shield out, leaving the planet vulnerable and Carol Danvers and Alpha Flight as the only line of defense to keep the Chitauri out. But as it turned out, Steve had the shield’s codes. He didn’t even need the suicide bomber. It was all a ruse to make them think the shield was damaged.
4. ALLOWED ZEMO TO KILL BUCKY
In Steve Rogers’ new version of his World War II past, Bucky Barnes was responsible for the death of Zemo’s father, Heinrich Zemo. Heinrich was a man that Steve had met in his young days at Hydra school and he was one he looked up to. And so, back in the present day, Zemo managed to capture Bucky Barnes and tied him to a missile that would rocket him to his death, just like what had happened to Zemo’s father.
But before Zemo would fire the missile, he played him a message, a message left by Captain America. In that message, Steve not only told his partner goodbye, he also said that Zemo, as his friend, deserved his revenge. This message was torture to Bucky, who knew of Steve’s turn thanks to Kobik’s manipulations. He begged Zemo to turn the message off, and he was sent to his death. We saw the missile explode and have no idea what happened to Bucky. But as far as we are concerned, Captain America signed off on his partner’s death.
3. LOCKED CAPTAIN MARVEL OUT OF EARTH TO DIE
With the Planetary Defense Shield down, Carol Danvers and her Alpha Flight team, comprised of some members of the Guardians of the Galaxy, were the only ones in space to fight off the thousands of Chitauri aliens attacking the Earth. Everything seemed to be looking up when they managed to eliminate the wave and the Defense Shield was repaired and activated once more. Captain Marvel only needed a portal open to let her team and wounded inside, back in the shield’s protection.
But the shield wouldn’t respond, so Carol hailed Steve and asked him for help. This was when Steve finally let his true colors shine. With the shield’s codes, he locked Captain Marvel, Alpha Flight and the Guardians out, and left at the mercy of the next wave of Chitauri that were fast approaching. For his plan to work, Steve needed the world’s strongest and most powerful heroes out of his way, heroes that represented the biggest threat to his success. And, thanks to his shield, he got what he wanted.
2. PLUNGED NYC INTO DARKNESS
While Steve needed all of the Earth’s heroes out of his way, not all of them were out in space fighting the Chitauri. To that effect, he arranged a large supervillain attack on New York City, an attack perpetrated by all of the villains who had been prisoner in Pleasant Hill at the time. Out for revenge, they took their fight to Luke Cage and his Defenders, Doctor Strange and the Uncanny Avengers. The battle was all but won for our heroes, until everything turned dark.
Just outside the city, Baron Zemo was accompanied by Blackout, who has the power to control the Darkforce, a dangerous form of negative, extra-dimensional energy. Blackout plunged the city into darkness as the next part of Steve’s plan — an all encompassing darkness from the Darkforce Dimension. We don’t yet know what will become of the heroes trapped in the dark, but as it stands, it looks like Captain America’s evil goals have all gone exactly as planned.
1. HE KILLED THE RED SKULL
Once the Red Skull had been defeated by the Uncanny Avengers and Charles Xavier’s telepathic brain removed from his head, the Skull was left weak and vulnerable. Steve’s lifelong mission to take him down was in his grasp, and he didn’t hesitate to find him. With the support of both Crossbones (a longtime ally of the Skull) and Sin (the Skull’s daughter), Steve threw his nemesis/Supreme Leader out of a window, a fall that led to his death.
Steve may have killed the world’s greatest Nazi, but he did it not to protect mankind as a hero would. He did it because the Skull was a threat to Hydra and what it was supposed to be. He killed him so he could take the Skull’s position as the new Supreme Leader. While the Skull always somehow managed to keep the world out of his own grasp, Steve took him out completely and was now ready to let Hydra loose.
What is the most heinous thing Hydra Cap has done in your opinion? Let us know in the comments!