SPOILER WARNING: contains major spoilers for Secret Empire #2, on sale now
Secret Empire #2, like virtually every issue leading up the event, ended with a game-changing twist, this time with the reveal of a second Captain America. Yes, folks, there’s now two different Captain Americas — and this one looks to be a “good” one. But who the heck is he?
After a small narration about hope, playing out over a scene of a woman being chased by the Serpent Society, this (new?) Cap steps out of the shadows, with a shaved hair and a beard, his clothes in tatters, and saves her, declaring, “My name is Steve Rogers. I’m just trying to get home.”
Of course, this begs the question of, what’s home to him, not to mention, who is he? Hopefully we’ll find out more soon, but until we do, let’s run through the possibilities, of where there are a surprising number despite only having seen him in a single panel thus far.
While most everyone’s first response would understandably be, “Well, he’s obviously the real Captain America,” he can’t be. Well, obviously, he could be, but both Marvel Comics and Secret Empire writer Nick Spencer have stated — multiple times — that the villain of the event isn’t a Skrull, an LMD, or any other sort of trick. The Cap who took over the country is the real Captain America, bottom line. So unless Marvel and Spencer are lying (which, sure, that’s a possibility) then the “real” Cap is the one leading Hydra.
So, again we ask, who is this other Steve Rogers?
Well, given that there’s an entire multiverse out there, we’ve got a ton of choices. There’s as many Captain Americas out there as there are stars in the sky, but some of them are more likely than others. So let’s see if we can’t figure out who this new Captain America really is.
One of the more fun and potentially weirder choices would be Captain America from Dimension Z. When Rick Remender was writing Captain America, Steve stumbled into another dimension and found himself stuck there for years, eventually adopting a child and toppling Armin Zola’s reign. If this new Cap is from Dimension Z, it would be a bit weird and involve some serious time travel shenanigans, but we are talking about the company behind Heroes Reborn so let’s not put anything past them. If this theory pans out, this Cap would be from before Kobik “revealed” his true self. As a result, this Cap would likely fight back against the “real” Cap, arguing that it doesn’t matter what’s real or not — only what’s right. This theory, while a bit tenuous, is supported by his beard. A bit thin, perhaps, but this is fiction, and visual cues like facial hair are often important clues.
An interesting choice would be to bring back the Captain America from Marvel: 1602. The ending of that comic has Captain America revealing himself to his allies, telling everyone he became stranded in time, and then beginning a journey back to his own era… which could be the world of Secret Empire. This would actually make quite a bit of sense, given that new Cap’s first words are about him trying to find his way home, the exact thing 1602 Cap was obsessed with doing. Again, it’s a bit of a longshot, but hey, this is comics — everything’s possible.
Then, of course, there’s the possibility that this is the Captain America from the Ultimate Universe. This is the one that will most likely get the most play among fans, and for good reason. It makes the most sense, arguably, given that Ultimate Thor’s hammer, Ultimate Wolverine’s son, and Ultimate Spider-Man have all ended up in the main Marvel Universe, so why not Ultimate Cap?
Two of the reasons I’d argue against this is that, A) it’s boring; and B) it’s everyone’s first thought. While Secret Empire has been highly divisive among fans, the one thing no one can say it’s skimping on is surprises. From the first “Hail Hydra!” to Cap picking up Thor’s hammer, to this new Cap showing up, Secret Empire has had twist after twist. It would almost be a let down if this was merely Ultimate Cap.
Of course, there’s another, much, much weirder option. If you check out the clothes new Cap is wearing and compare them to the clothes worn by General Rogers in the Secret Wars: Civil War comic, you’ll see a bunch of similarities. While it may seem a bit odd to have a Secret Wars character spill over into the mainstream Marvel Universe, it wouldn’t be the first time. After all, Old Man Logan is busy running around all over the place, having escaped from his dark, alternate future, and most of the Ultimate Universe characters in the Marvel U right now were involved in the Secret Wars story on one level or another. What if the ending of Secret Wars: Civil War didn’t kill General Rogers, but actually threw him through the multiverse, only to have him end up in the 616 reality right when it needed him most?
The truth is, no one knows exactly what the fallout of Secret Wars means for the Marvel U, or Secret Empire, just yet. For all we know, the Ultimate Universe might exist again. (With the developments happening in The Ultimates and X-Men Blue it sure seems like it.) Heck, with the Cosmic Cube in play, and the line-wide impact the story is having, we could come to find out that the world we’ve been reading about for months is actually the new Ultimate Universe. Who knows?
While there’s a bunch of Cap’s to chose from — literally dozens from across Marvel’s multiple dimensions — we’re going with Secret Wars: Civil War Cap if for no other reason than it would be both the most surprising, and most perfect choice. After all, who better to fight against a world leader than someone who had been doing that for years?