It ends the same way it started, with two simple words: “Hail Hydra,” mouthed by a guard in the Shadow Pillar, a black-site prison facility that houses a single inmate: Steve Rogers, aka Hydra Cap. And with these words, spoken mere seconds after the “real” Steve Rogers exits, Secret Empire's prime mover is freed to become a full-time villain in the Marvel Universe.
Secret Empire: Omega #1 echoes the Oath stories that served as codas to Marvel’s Civil War events. The bulk of the issue -- illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino -- is a conversation between the two versions of Steve. The main narrative is intercut with three stories -- drawn by Joe Bennett and Joe Pimentel, along with Scott Hanna and Rachelle Rosenberg -- that explore the aftermath of the Hydra takeover for various players in this saga, but for now, we're focusing in on Captain America and the fate of his broken mirror image.
There are now two Steve Rogers in the Marvel Universe. One has committed unspeakable atrocities and is beyond redemption; the other is an ideal, in the truest sense of the word.
Hydra Cap may inhabit the body of the original Steve Rogers, but he is a twisted version of that man. Although he knows that he’s been altered by the sentient Cosmic Cube known as Kobik, he clings to the past she created for him, and continues to revel in the monstrous ideology of Hydra. The “real” Steve Rogers, on the other hand, is purely a construction of Kobik, an unaltered version of the man who lived entirely in her head, but who was made real to combat the evil version of himself.
If this all seems a little complicated, that's fine. All you really need to know is that old school Rogers is the good guy, and Hydra Cap is not.
Rogers breaks into Shadow Pillar to confront his doppelgänger. He has questions for the man who is exactly like him but entirely different. He’s also looking for a proper confrontation. The punch-up that concluded Secret Empire didn’t leave much room for banter, and both Rogers want to get their digs in. The verbal sparring match that ensues is personal, political, and philosophical.
It also explores a question that has been troubling readers: How will Secret Empire affect the legacy of Captain America? Will the character be forever sullied by his fascist turn?