SPOILER WARNING: This interview contains major spoilers for "Captain America: Steve Rogers" #2, on sale now.
In the aftermath of the recent "Avengers: Standoff" crossover, a rejuvenated Steve Rogers picked up a new shield and resumed his career as Captain America alongside his friend and former partner Sam Wilson (AKA the other Captain America). It was a moment many Marvel fans had been waiting for. It was also a perfect illustration of the adage about being careful what you wish for, because no one predicted what happened next.
In the debut issue of "Captain America: Steve Rogers," writer Nick Spencer and artist Jesus Saiz delivered a shocking twist when they revealed the original Captain America was secretly in league with the terrorist group Hydra. Rogers threw fellow hero Jack Flag out of an air transport and uttered the fearsome, familiar oath: "Hail Hydra."
While the controversial twist excited some readers, it also incensed others. Now that "Captain America: Steve Rogers" #2 is on sale, readers have the opportunity to see how Spencer and Saiz set up the how and why behind the shocking turn. The living Cosmic Cube fragment known as Kobik was, in fact, an ally of the Red Skull and when she restored Rogers' youth during "Standoff" she also altered reality to replaced his memories and transform him into a Hydra agent. CBR News spoke with Spencer prior to the issue's release about the twist, his inspiration for it and fandom's reaction to the initial Hydra reveal. The writer also discusses what Kobik's action means for the series, as well as other Marvel titles including "Captain America: Sam Wilson," "Thunderbolts" and "Civil War II" going forward.
CBR News: Were you surprised by how big the reaction to your first issue and its cliffhanger became?
Nick Spencer: For me the the worst thing would have been it not generating a massive fury. It's perfectly natural and normal for people to be upset about it. That was our intention, again we asked for it. I maybe didn't quite grasp the magnitude of it and how far it would reach outside of monthly comic readers. That's something that I maybe didn't give enough thought to, but it's great.
â€¨There was one guy who said he managed to avoid all the spoilers online, and rushed to his shop and grabbed the book. He then got back out to the car and had it ruined on the radio. So it's horrible, but then you think, "People are talking about this on the radio."
You don't get that many opportunities in this job to have something break that broadly. We were trending on Facebook, we were the top trending topic on Twitter for a while too. There are literally millions of social media posts about this. Chris Evans alone got like 85,000 retweets, which is awesome. Again, people being upset and shocked is a perfectly understandable response.
Given the uproar, how does it feel to finally have this issue almost in the hands of readers? How do you think they'll react to the explanation for what happened to Steve?
It's going to be really interesting to see the response. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't very eager to see how people will react to this.
We asked for the reaction to issue #1. We were the ones that decided to put the cliffhanger point where we did. So it's perfectly understandable for people to have been fired up and upset for that month. I might argue with how far it went or the intensity of some of it, [Laughs] but we certainly knew the shock and outrage was coming.
"Steve Rogers" #2 is full of big flashback reveals. Let's start off with the first one that showed a battle between Cap and the Red Skull wielding the Cosmic Cube that will create the Kobik fragment. Is this a specific Red Skull Cosmic Cube story you're referencing, because it looks to be from the Mark Waid-Ron Garney run on "Captain America"?
It is. That is one of my favorite Cap stories from the Waid-Garney run, which was a fantastic one. I'm kind of eternally grateful that they left a little mess on the floor.
So we got to do a nice bit of callback to a classic Cap story, and it was really funny because the whole time that we were setting up Kobik and going through "Avengers: Standoff" I paid a lot of attention to discussion around the books, and I really did not ever see anyone ask where the Cube fragments came from. That was something I was always waiting to hear, and it never came. So it was nice that the audience reflected the same blind spot as the heroes.
Given Kobik's ties to the Red Skull, it definitely feels like this is your take on a nature vs. nurture story with a classic sci-fi twist.
Definitely. What we're essentially saying in this issue is that interaction with the Skull was sort of a nascent experience. It was very much a formative moment for her. And who the Cube interacts with plays a fundamental role in how the Cube is shaped.
A big part of Cosmic Cube history is they evolve and become sentient. So I thought a nice twist on that would be is that like any birth it's greatly impacted by the parents. So I thought who was wielding that cube when it started its evolutionary process would be a pretty important thing for it.
What was it like writing the Red Skull as a doting father figure to Kobik? At one point we even see him read her a bedtime story!
That was fun. The Skull is a smart guy, and he recognized pretty quickly that he was not in a position to be authoritarian with Kobik. He understood the necessity of getting her on his side, and that required him to do some things that he's never had to do before and don't necessarily come easy to him like reading bedtime stories.
My favorite thing in that scene is Kobik's room and some of the Easter Eggs in it. I love the Hydra bed spread and the Hive stuffed animal that she's got. I thought that Jesus [Saiz] did a phenomenal job on the Hydra kid's room, which I really hope somebody does in real life. [Laughs]
I really liked what Jesus did with that scene as well. He seems to be really enjoying the action, emotions, and acting that are all key to a story like this.
Jesus is amazing and he's doing a phenomenal job on this book. I think it's his best work to date. I just got pages from him today and they're absolutely gorgeous. Every issue looks better than the last one. So I'm having a lot of fun working with him and I could not be more proud of how the book looks.
Kobik used her power to transform Steve into an agent of Hydra. That has me wondering -- what does Hydra mean to her?