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Secret Empire: Can Marvel Do Enough to Redeem Captain America?

by  in Comic News Comment
Secret Empire: Can Marvel Do Enough to Redeem Captain America?

SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Secret Empire #10 by Nick Spencer, Steve McNiven, and Andrea Sorrentino, on sale now.

It was over a year ago that writer Nick Spencer pulled the trigger on his revelation that Steve Rogers had secretly been a Hydra agent, and the conclusion of Marvel Comics’ latest event serves as the final shot of his controversial story arc. Secret Empire #10, by Spencer and artists Steve McNiven, Jay Leisten and Andrea Sorrentino presents a resurgent assembly of Earth’s mightiest heroes united against the traitorous Captain America, as well as Cap’s showdown with the one true hero who stands to be the most likely individual to defeat him.

RELATED: Secret Empire Reveals the Secret of Bearded Steve Rogers

While the story of Captain Hydra might be over, however, the fallout from Steve Rogers’ heinous, far-reaching actions remains. Once acknowledged at the most heroic figure in the Marvel Universe, Captain America’s redemption is anything but assured.

The End of Bad Cap, and The Return of…

Throughout Secret Empire, a grizzled and seemingly confused version of Steve Rogers has been seen wandering through a realm of sorts that turned out to be a dimension within the highly-prized cosmic cube, or more accurately, the childlike embodiment of the cube known as Kobik. This incarnation of Steve wasn’t the corrupted version that’s firmly been entrenched in the Marvel Universe – this traditional version is the one who eventually extracts himself from the cube, which in turn has been removed from evil Cap’s control by the heroes battling him. Now in physical form, this sets the stage for a showdown that many might not have foreseen: good Cap vs. bad Cap.

With the return of the true Captain America and the cube’s rewriting of Hydra’s impact on history now wiped away, good Cap once again finds himself worthy of lifting Thor’s hammer Mjolnir, enabling him to take down his corrupted counterpart. The battle is transmitted live around the world, but the encounter is undoubtedly one that those bereft of an explanation of Cap’s return will be unable to fully understand. A seemingly heroic version of a cultural icon from a past era returns to defeat the once-heroic incarnation that ultimately betrayed them, but does this necessarily equal unconditional and instantaneous redemption to the countless population who were oppressed, or even suffered under his rule? Good Cap was deemed worthy enough to wield Mjolnir, sure, but then so was evil Cap not long ago – and that’s to say nothing of the confusion generated by simply trying to process the sight of one Cap literally appearing from nowhere to defeat another who turned traitor.

Kobik Made Me Do It

Readers, of course, know that Steve Rogers was but the first victim in the Red Skull’s manipulation of reality via the cosmic cube, although many more were subsequently victimized, directly or otherwise, by Steve Rogers himself. But the average citizen of the Marvel Universe would barely comprehend such a scenario, let alone know of it, so to the average joe, America’s most trusted superhero not only turned traitor, but was himself responsible for countless heinous acts. These acts included unwilful internment, executions and squashing basically every other freedom-loving principal that most everyone once believed he once embodied – acts that, once committed, are beyond redemption for many, regardless of whatever strange scenarios play out before their eyes that might indicate otherwise.

Many readers themselves feel the same way – despite whatever convoluted plot device is put in play to show that Steve Rogers really wasn’t responsible for the atrocities he instigated, if not committed, the image of Captain America as a pseudo-Nazi is one that’s been widely professed as unforgivable. DC Comics faced a similar situation regarding Green Lantern back in the ’90s, when one of their most stoic heroes seemingly broke bad after the destruction of his hometown. Even after Hal Jordan, in his villainous guise, saved the world, sacrificed himself, and eventually returned as another hero, the specter of his dastardly actions, so to speak, hung over his reputation. Ultimately, the yellow impurity known as Parallax was revealed as the party responsible for corrupting Hal, in theory absolving him of any wrongdoing, but the images of him slaying his fellow Green Lanterns lingered in the minds of many fans.

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