SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for “Captain America: Steve Rogers” #9, which is in stores now.
Things have not been easy for Maria Hill lately. Not that that’s really stopped the longtime S.H.I.E.L.D. director from being active and getting things done on her own terms. Not even a tribunal with the World Security Council over her involvement with the events that unfolded during last year’s “Standoff” event can slow her down — and it hasn’t. “Captain America: Steve Rogers” #9 features Maria Hill’s trial, which has been a long time coming ever since it was discovered that she used Cosmic Cube technology to alter the minds and personalities of supervillains before placing them in a fake prison/community called Pleasant Hill.
Before the trial even gets underway, though, writer Nick Spencer and artists Javier Pina and Andres Guinaldo show Hill doing what she does best: plotting.
Hill checks in with two S.H.I.E.L.D. scientists, who she’s tasked with accomplishing a seemingly impossible goal. Faced with expert witnesses (including Captain America himself) testifying against her ethics and judgement — ranging in events all the way from the human rights violations of “Standoff” all the way back to her acts of blackmail during the first superhero “Civil War” — Maria Hill has pulled out all the stops. And it’s a few pages later, during the closing statements of her trial, that we find out exactly what Hill is proposing.
Maria Hill begins by stating that she’s only concerned with the future — specifically the future of Earth. Forget all the questionable things she’s done with in the past, she knows that Earth needs a stronger line of defense if it’s going to survive what’s coming — because alien invasions just keep coming. She proposes… a shield.
Yep, the S.H.I.E.L.D. Director proposes a completely different kind of shield, one that would envelope the entire planet and keep every single alien, invasion armies and all, off-world. Hill even explains that the shield’s potential has been tested in simulations against the capabilities of Invisible Woman, Magneto and Graviton, and it’s bested every single one of them when it comes to protective power. The shield’s strength actually comes from what’s used against it; any attempt to attack the shield and it absorbs the energy and adds it to its power.
This move would most likely render the current Alpha Flight space station redundant. Starting last year, Captain Marvel, ex-S.W.O.R.D. Agent Abigail Brand, the remaining members of the Canadian superhero team Alpha Flight and their support crew were placed just outside of Earth’s atmosphere in a space station designed to protect Earth from extraterrestrial threats. Prior to that, the Winter Soldier and Nick Fury served as The Man on the Wall, a rotating one-man defense between the Earth and everything in the cosmos (although the job is presumably unfilled considering Winter Soldier is back on Earth with the Thunderbolts). And prior to that, S.H.I.E.L.D. had their own extraterrestrial defense division in S.W.O.R.D. Hill’s suggestion, though, doesn’t involve putting superheroes in-between Earth and alien threats. Instead, it’d be an actual shield, one that would be monitored by S.H.I.E.L.D.
The shield also has consequences for citizens of Earth too; since the shield also prevents teleportation from one side of the forcefield to another, it would also shut down all in-atmosphere teleportation as well. “A lotta people are gonna be booking economy seats from now on instead,” Hill jokes, referencing all the teleporting super-characters.
After presenting the World Security Council with this new sales pitch, Hill says they all have two options: try to teach her a lesson through punishment (one she promises she will never learn), or buy into her pitch and let her move forward with her plan to really turn S.H.I.E.L.D. into a global shield. And now that Hill has pitched this idea to the WSC, she knows that if they turn her down and an alien army invades (which, by the way, one is on the way), the public will blame them for not going with Hill’s idea. As the prosecution team led by Everett K. Ross notes, Hill’s closing statement was a sales pitch, a bribe and blackmail all in one.
With Hill’s future within the Marvel Universe up in the air, the vote has suddenly become very close. The issue ends just before the reveal of the council’s vote, meaning you’ll have to check out the next chapter for Hill’s fate. “Captain America: Steve Rogers” #10 arrives in stores on January 25.
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