Marvel Comics fans were stunned to witness Steve Rogers utter the words "Hail Hydra" on the final page of "Captain America: Steve Rogers" #1. Cap's restoration to his youthful state during the events of "Avengers: Standoff!" involved the sentient Cosmic Cube, Kobik, drastically rewriting his past under the instructions of the Red Skull. Since then, Captain America has plotted in the background to set himself and Hydra in a position where they can conquer America in Marvel's upcoming event "Secret Empire."
Readers understandably will be pulling for Cap to fight his Hydra programming and join his friends against the evil organization, but writer Nick Spencer and Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso warn that the one-time Sentinel of Liberty truly is the villain of the story.
"This isn’t a heroes vs. heroes conflict, it is very much Steve is a villain. Because of what happened with the Cosmic Cube, he is very much on the side of evil in this story," Spencer told Entertainment Weekly. "It’s not an honest disagreement between heroes who want to do something differently. Steve has very bad intentions, he is 100 percent Hydra thanks to what the Cube has done. Within the universe, Steve Rogers is the most trusted and most looked up to and admired figure in the universe. Especially with where our heroes are at this point in this story, they’re divided, they’re fragmented, they’re at each others’ throats in the fallout of what’s come before. Rather than try to come together and work through these things, they’ve been giving Steve more and more power. They’ve decided to just cede it to him, to let him handle these things, and that obviously puts them in a dangerous predicament."
"This is a rallying point for the Marvel Universe," Alonso said. "This is Hydra taking over, this is bad guys taking over, and this is the Marvel Universe facing this and looking at hero they trust most and saying, how could he have done this? One of the things we want readers asking is not just how are they gonna defeat this evil, but what’s the Cap story in this? How is it possible for there to be a redemptive arc for Cap? Is that Marvel’s intention? That’s what we’re looking at for the next months."
One has to wonder if Captain America can really be redeemed once "Secret Empire" comes to a close. Will it take an intervention from Kobik to bring Steve Rogers back to his senses? And does Marvel even plan for Cap to go back to his heroic ways? We do know that Marvel's "Generations" will team a classic Steve Rogers Cap alongside Sam Wilson for a story by Spencer. Of "Generations," Alonso said, "We are looking to honor the legacy of the entire universe, so we are taking the iconic legacy heroes and pairing them with the new class."
“Secret Empire” #1 arrives May 3.