SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for "Captain America: Steve Rogers" #11 and Deadpool #27, both of which are in stores now.
Since the start of the "Captain America: Steve Rogers" series back in May 2016, the title character has had a massive secret. The final page of that first issue revealed that Steve Rogers was, in fact, a Hydra agent. The following issues disclosed how that massive reveal came to be, but Rogers has been able to keep his affiliation with the evil organization a secret for the last nine months' worth of stories.
All that changes with "Captain America: Steve Rogers" #11 and Deadpool #27.
The former issue's big turning point, wherein a dangerous person discovers Steve Rogers' secret, actually harkens back all the way to the very first issue of "Captain America: Steve Rogers." That debut issue saw Steve Rogers mount a mission aboard a rogue air cruiser to seemingly take out Baron Zemo and Hydra scientist Erik Selvig. Instead of capture Zemo and Selvig for the good guys, Rogers showed his hand by dropping a "Hail Hydra" to Selvig and whisking both bad guys away to his own secret base. There, Rogers has been colluding with Selvig and trying to find a way to undermine and overthrow the Red Skull and take command of Hydra.
Cap's secret mission to abduct Selvig and Zemo took place on an air cruiser buzzing through the skyline of the crime-filled country Bagalia. Just because Bagalia's a safe haven for criminals, though, doesn't mean it doesn't have laws -- albeit loose ones. "Captain America: Steve Rogers" #3 revealed that classic Cap villain Taskmaster is operating as the sheriff of Bagalia. An issue later in "Steve Rogers" #4, we see that Taskmaster isn't going to just let an air crusher crash into one of Bagalia's skyscrapers go uninvestigated.
While searching through the wreckage, Taskmaster discovers what appear to be the corpses of Selvig and Zemo (we know, of course, that those are well executed fakes). Taskmaster notes that the outside security footage caught Rogers leaping from the cruiser just before it hit the building, but Taskmaster knows something isn't right. This subplot drops with Taskmaster discovering the wreckage of the cruiser.
Plenty of other things have happened in the months since, like Cap fighting off an alien invasion, Maria Hill standing trial. Six months after Taskmaster uncovered the wreckage of that cruiser, "Captain America: Steve Rogers" #11 -- written by Nick Spencer with art by Jesus Saiz -- finds the sheriff making a major discovery.
The issue finds Taskmaster reviewing the wrecked cruiser's security hard drive. Taskmaster notes that, as he suspected, the main security hard drive was removed from the wreckage at some point. But, because those hard drives get swiped all the time, a lot of air cruisers contain a backup hard drive -- and the cruiser's backup was still intact. That backup security hard drive contained Steve Rogers' big secret, which he said aloud on the cruiser before making off with Selvig and Zemo.
Taskmaster notes that he's watched the video "a hundred times" (that's probably what he's been up to in the long time in-between when we last saw him and now) and he can't figure out what it means. Of course Taskmaster's acquaintance Black Ant (a villainous Life Model Decoy of the amoral ex-Ant-Man/Avenger Eric O'Grady) has an idea: make money. O'Grady suggests that they get rich off of this major secret, indicating that we might see either Taskmaster and Black Ant try to blackmail Steve Rogers, or we might see them try to auction off the secret to the highest bidder. They might try to do something else entirely, but "Steve Rogers" readers also know that this isn't something that Captain America will take lightly.
We just saw in the previous issue the lengths this version of Captain America will go to to keep his identity a secret until he's good and ready to reveal it. In "Captain America: Steve Rogers" #10, we saw that Steve Rogers was willing to murder another person that knew his secret, Jack Flag. Flag was present on the air cruiser with Cap on the rescue mission. Cap kicked Flag out of the cruiser, sending him plummeting to the ground, so that he wouldn't be witness to Cap's secret plan. But Jack Flag didn't die; instead, he laid in a coma for the following issues. Issue #10 saw Rogers finally decide to take action and attempt to kill the hospitalized Flag. When Rogers arrived at the hospital, he learned that the plug was going to be pulled on the comatose hero anyway. Still, Cap was willing to kill one of his former proteges in order to keep his secret. Who knows what he will do to villains when he finds out they're onto him.
Meanwhile, over in "Deadpool" #27 Rogers' secret is not quite out of the bag, but it's about to be. Following a request by Cap to help him defeat some time-traveling villains, Deadpool helps dispatch two of them, then fires upon the last of the ostensible bad guys in response to Steve's declaration that he has a gun. As a result, the time-displaced "villain" lies dead, unable to reveal to Deadpool and Coulson what he and Cap had discussed on the previous page; namely, that Cap's dark secret is known in the future, and the trio of characters had come back in time in an attempt to prevent the Secret Empire from taking root.
All seems under control, until Coulson catches Captain America planting a gun on the dead man's body, forcing the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent to put on his poker face in an attempt to save his own skin, as much as it is to get back to his headquarters in order to update a personal project. As we see on the last page, it appears that Coulson has known for some time that something wasn't right, though it wasn't until Cap's actions in the field earlier that night that he truly understood the enormity of the situation. Captain America, is would appear, is not at all what he seemed.
These developments come ahead of this summer's "Secret Empire" crossover. That series will see the culmination of Steve Rogers' work as he's placed in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D. and uses the opportunity to take Hydra to a new level. We also know that the event will reveal Rogers' secret to the rest of the Marvel Universe.
"Steve has been kind of lining his dominoes up around the Marvel Universe to be able to make his move and bring about a Hydra revolution, a takeover," said Marvel Senior VP Tom Brevoort in the announcement. "At the point of 'Secret Empire,' they are ready to go. That's the moment we hit as we go in... His plans and Hydra's plans will have begun to unfurl. We are done with the covert portion, the buildup portion of the program, 'Secret Empire' is the pyrotechnics, the big Michael Bay blockbuster, huge colossal struggles and battles across the Marvel Universe, with all of our key characters and players taking on a big role."
Will Taskmaster's discovery play a role in revealing Hydra Cap to the world? OR is it Agent Coulson's investigation that will break the news wide open? We'll most likely know pretty soon. "Captain America: Steve Rogers" #12 arrives in stores on February 22.