WARNING: This article contains spoilers for the FCBD 2018 issue of Avengers and Captain America, in stores now.
After being transformed into a sleeper agent for Hydra by a sentient Cosmic Cube, Captain America has once again reclaimed the mantle of the United States of America's most hopeful and inspiring hero. Now, as Marvel heads into a fresh relaunch of its titles, bringing the focus back on the heroism of the core characters that are loved the world over, famed Black Panther author and MacArthur Genius Grant recipient Ta-Nehisi Coates and acclaimed artist Leinil Francis Yu have been tasked with shepherding Steve Rogers into this bold new era.
Coates and Yu's series will fittingly launch with a new issue #1 on July 4, offering everyone -- from the longtime Captain America fans to those who have never picked up a comic book before -- the opportunity to start fresh with the character.
But Marvel's Free Comic Book Day 2018 issue of Avengers/Captain America features a short story that effectively serves as the real beginning of Coates' run on the character. The 10-page story is a prelude of sorts, giving readers a taste of the things to come -- a first look at the dangers that lie ahead. And it just so happens that the first danger has taken the cloned form of a long-established comic book villain: Nuke. Or, in this case, Nukes.
No, Coates doesn't pull any punches for the start of his Captain America run. Instantly, he shows us that this title will be just as politically-charged as his work on Black Panther, and to help convey the themes of what America was, is, and will always be, the writer has chosen perhaps the most perfect villain: Nuke, a symbol of the powerful and angry side of America.
But this isn't just the plain old Nuke fans know and love. This time, Nuke has been weaponized in an entirely different way.
A mysterious woman (who for now remains unnamed) is behind an organization or movement that is responsible for cloning Nuke in order to make an entire army out of him -- an army with one mind, and one focused goal. We first see these Nukes being unleashed to disrupt a protest held by Hydra enthusiasts, who were themselves met with counter-protesters. The situation quickly escalates, devolving into a riot, and the Nukes arrive on the scene, ready to bring order back to a divided and conflicted America.
We don't yet know if the real Nuke is a part of this army or not. Last we saw the character was in writer Greg Pak and artist Yildiray Cinar's Weapon X comic series. There, Nuke had been taken prisoner, and his superpower-inducing pills were mass-produced to create an entire Nuke Platoon. These soldiers were defeated by Wolverine and the rest of the Weapon X team, but the original Nuke remained at large.
This time, another army of super-soldiers has just become an important threat. But they aren't separate individuals. They are all Nukes, and they are all used to make a statement about the current state of America -- or rather, what these new villains think America should be. We will surely discover more about the people behind these clones very soon, when Coates begins his run alongside artist Leinil Francis Yu.