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Captain America Brings Back a Secret Empire Villain ... With a Twist

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Captain America #11 by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Adam Kubert, Matt Milla and Joe Caramagna, in stores now.

Steve Rogers' journey in the wake of Secret Empire has been quite bumpy. Even though many understood he wasn't the HydraCap who helped take over the Marvel Universe, he still found it hard to win unanimous support back as his face is still that of a ruthless dictator.

With the Power Elite subsequently replacing Hydra as a world power, and the death of Thaddeus Ross pushing Steve (the prime suspect) to turn himself in, the star-spangled Avenger decided it was best resign himself to Myrmidon prison. Cap resigned himself to paying for HydraCap's sins, whether or not he deserves such a cruel fate. Captain America #11, however, sees Sharon Carter and the Daughters of Liberty attempting to break Steve out to fight the rising influence of the Power Elite, only to realize their enemies have another trump card up their sleeve via a twist on a certain legion we saw in the Secret Empire takeover.

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With the Myrmidon run by the vindictive Wolfgang von Strucker, Sharon incites a prison break. Using the Daughters of Liberty, which includes Misty Knight, Sue Storm and a soldier called Dryad, they breach the facility to help Steve escape. However, Strucker doesn't go down without a fight, activating the Americops.

The concept of Americop itself was appropriated from Bartholomew Gallows, the Houston cop who donned the mask and overall moniker in the Marvel '90s. He was reprimanded by Cap back then for being an overly violent vigilante, and eventually died after injuries inflicted by Norman Osborn's Thunderbolts. His story concluded as a poetic tragedy as he saw his vision of protecting innocents by any means necessary perverted and turn turned into a means of discrimination.

The Americops were co-opted by HydraCap to help run America and keep its citizens in check. Keane Industries funded the initiative and placed them in at-risk areas. As seen in Nick Spencer's Captain America: Sam Wilson run, they engaged in many instances of police brutality. Spencer easily ingrained that statement on real-world police brutality perpetrated against minorities and people of color into the fascist doctrines of Hydra.

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This time, they're not just soldiers with special costumes on. Instead, they're robots controlled by a hive mind -- an artificial intelligence Strucker commanded to execute his oppressive vision. What's interesting is these bots are way more aggressive and deadly than in Secret Empire and take down villains like the Wrecker with ease. Strucker reconfigures them so they're sporting metal arms, clearly designed after the Winter Soldier. It's him rubbing salt in Cap's wounds and reminding the world how they inflicted fear during Secret Empire. It also confirms Strucker is aiding the Power Elite, just like he did Hydra.

It feels like Strucker cranks them up a few notches here as a symbol of hate he can reproduce en masse. There's no human essence at all, which means they can be programmed for genocide instantly rather than having to be conditioned over time. They're also less vulnerable as Steve finds out, with their metal arms almost as dangerous as the one Hydra gave Bucky Barnes.

Luckily, the Daughters are able to incapacitate the first wave of these robots, rescuing Steve and kidnapping Strucker in the process. But with more ghosts from the past popping up, Steve knows it won't be easy taking the shield back and becoming a beacon of hope again. As folks like Strucker won't let his demons die, Cap can't help but be apprehensive of what other secrets the Power Elite has to throw his way.

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Captain America #12 goes on sale July 17.

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