SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for “Captain America: Steve Rogers” #4, which is in stores now.
After setting up the new status quo in the first three issues of “Captain America: Steve Rogers,” the fourth issue in Nick Spencer’s HYDRA Cap story advances a number of storylines significantly and drops major clues about what’s coming up for the ongoing once the dust settles on “Civil War II.” We know that Red Skull and Kobik, a Cosmic Cube given form as a young girl, have altered Steve Rogers’ reality by rebooting memories of his childhood and life in HYDRA’s image. This issue, which features art from Javier Pina and Miguel Sepulveda, also reveals more of exactly what’s happened to Steve Rogers’ memories and explores his… unique… relationship with the Red Skull.
Considering just how many reveals happened in this giant-sized 30-page issue, we’re going to run through some of the chapter’s biggest reveals bullet-point-style.
- Bye Red Ghost – When it comes to Marvel villains, it doesn’t get more delightfully campy than the Red Ghost and his Super-Apes. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1963, this Russian scientist possesses the power of intangibility and commands a group of trained primates and possess. It’s been years since the Red Ghost last appeared in a comic and, because of this issue’s events, it looks like he’ll remain out of the spotlight for the foreseeable future. Captain America breaks into the Red Ghost’s lab and viciously murders the Super-Apes and, presumably, Red Ghost himself in order to hand over the villain’s lab to Dr. Erik Selvig.
- Hello Everett Ross – Following his big screen debut in “Captain America: Civil War” where he was played by Martin Freeman, “Black Panther” supporting character Everett Ross returns to comics after a seven year absence. This government agent will now be in charge of prosecuting Maria Hill at her upcoming tribunal following her shady actions in the “Standoff” event.
- Kobik’s Meddling – The issue features a brief interlude with Steve Rogers’ former partner Bucky, who now commands the Thunderbolts in defending the Earth from extraterrestrial threats. Rogers knows that Kobik, the living Cosmic Cube, has joined the T’bolts, but all of his attempts to contact Bucky have been thwarted. We see Kobik lurking in the shadows, preventing Cap’s transmissions from coming through to the Winter Soldier. Why does Kobik want to keep Cap from communicating with Bucky?
- Impending Invasion – Another interlude picks up with another thread from “Standoff,” namely ex-Quasar Wendell Vaughn’s training of current Quasar Avril Kincaid. Avril’s cosmic Quantum Bands alert the new Quasar to an alien threat, although the vision passes before Avril can identify or even remember the horror she saw. Could this be the book’s post-“Civil War II” threat?
- “Civil War II” Synch Up – While “Civil War II” has been going on for the past few months, “Captain America: Steve Rogers” #4 shows this series’ timeline synching up with the early chapters of the massive Marvel event. We see the flashes of the event’s earliest moments: Ulysses on the run, the superheroes gathered post-battle and Thanos’ attempt to steal the Cosmic Cube. With the timeline of “Steve Rogers” now caught up to “Civil War II,” the next issue will guest star Iron Man and most likely see Cap dive into the crossover’s events.
- The New Death of Sarah Rogers – The series’ flashbacks continue to unfold, showing how Kobik under the Red Skull’s influence reshaped Captain America’s memories to turn him into a HYDRA agent. In this issue, we see how Steve Rogers remembers the death of his mother. After joining HYDRA, Sarah tries to escape once she suspects that the organization murdered her abusive husband. But Sarah’s attempt to run away from HYDRA with Steve is foiled when the Kobik-created Elisa Sinclair shows up with a pair of HYDRA heavies. Sarah Rogers is killed by these agents when she protests, leaving young Steve in Elisa’s care. While it’s been clear so far that Kobik rewrote Steve’s memories, this is the clearest example to date of that; this “memory” completely contradicts Sarah Rogers’ actual nonviolent death from an illness, which was seen in 2013’s “Captain America” #11.
- Mission: Kill Red Skull – This issue also establishes HYDRA Cap’s big mission: kill the Red Skull. Rogers reveals his plan to his partner in revolution Erik Selvig, stating that in order to build HYDRA up to greatness once again, the organization must no longer be about solely one man. That means cutting off the head of the organization’s unquestioned ruler, the Red Skull. This development also further establishes that Steve Rogers has not been brainwashed by the villain. “Brainwashing” implies that Steve Rogers has no free will and does the bidding of his master, the Red Skull. No, the Red Skull and Kobik didn’t brainwash Steve Rogers and change his nature; they reshaped his memories and nurtured a HYDRA agent from a highly impressionable young age. This Steve Rogers still has his free will and autonomy, which is why his main goal right now is to kill the very villain responsible for his HYDRA rebirth — a development that’s most assuredly not part of the Red Skull’s plan.
“Captain America: Steve Rogers” #5 arrives in stores on September 28.
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