Since Captain America is the theme of the blog this week, and I just reviewed the Free Comic Book Day special yesterday, I thought I would look at the new Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 that came out this week.
Before we go any further:
Since I liked the FCBD special so much I decided to pick up the first issue of the series that launched yesterday by Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz.
The story here is a newly revitalized Steve Rogers back in the field taking on Hydra that has placed a bomb on a train. We are shown flashbacks of Steve Rogers as a child and a stranger who helped his mother from his abusive father. There are also flashbacks of Robbie Tomlin, a man who ends up joining Hydra. Poor choices and mistakes lead to him being swayed by a charismatic Red Skull into dedicating his life to Hydra.
Eventually we learn that the bomb on the train Cap is trying to get to, is strapped to Robbie. S.H.I.E.L.D. manages to get control of the train, but Cap is determined to save Robbie, even as his new boss, Sharon Carter tells him not to. Unfortunately, Steve is not able to sway Robbie and he detonates the explosive, killing himself. This goes a long way to show how caring a hero Cap is when other, modern heroes have no problem with killing, let alone would not go to these lengths to save a villain. It also shows just how sinister Hydra is and plays off real world indoctrination of youth into terrorist organizations.
During the train sequence, Jack Flag and Free Spirit are reintroduced. These are two heroes who worked with Captain America in the past in a not so great point in his history. After the mission, Rick Jones, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s new resident hacker, and the duo are reminiscing and swapping old tales about not so glorious days. It is really endearing and makes you care about these previously silly characters. On one page it turns around the reader’s opinion of them and establishes what will hopefully be a new dynamic for this series.
Later, Maria Hill tells Cap that S.H.I.E.L.D. has learned the whereabouts of Baron Zemo. Apparently, Zemo is a loose end from the old-man Cap story that took place previous to this book. Zemo is attempting to re-form the Masters of Evil with some D-list supervillains, when Cap and Jack Flag and Free Spirit show up to stop them. Zemo escapes to a plane with a kidnapped Dr. Erik Selvig (who I know only from the Thor movies). Cap jumps onto the plane and Jack Flag follows him in an attempt to save the hero he looks up to.
Another flashback to Steve’s childhood is shown where it is revealed that his mother’s benefactor in the past was a member of Hydra. Back in the present, Captain America is surprised to see Jack on the plane as he had ordered him to help Free Spirit. Cap apologizes to him and throw hims off the aircraft, seemingly to his death. On the last page we get the following:
Ok. So I know the internet is losing it’s mind about this right now. I saw a spoiler for this the night before last and that’s what clinched it for me to pick this up and write this. With the release of DC’s Rebirth issue out too (more on that next week), the timing couldn’t be better for Marvel to steal some of DC’s thunder.
With the flashbacks to Steve Rogers’ youth, the implication from this story is that he may have been a Hydra agent all along. If that’s the case, for 75 years, Captain America has been the worst Hydra agent of all time. There are only so many times he can foil Hydra plots to retain his cover before it really becomes a problem for the organization.
Plus, if he’s been an agent all along, why activate him now? Why not back when, oh I don’t know, WORLD WAR II? ! How would that not have made more sense? What about all the times Hydra had some huge plan in motion that a hero on the inside of S.H.I.E.L.D. could have tipped the outcome in their favor? Were they waiting for him to rise the ranks through S.H.I.E.L.D. more? It seems like Cap’s been about as deep into S.H.I.E.L.D. as he’s going to get for a while now.
More likely to me it seems that this may be some sort of brainwashing scheme. I don’t know the details about Pleasant Hill and Kobik, but it seems like when Cap is being renewed, that may be the time to plant a bug in his head about how great Hydra is.
My choice for outcome to this is a Captain America doppelgänger. Cap doesn’t really have a strong, anti-Captain, Bizarro-like villain. During the events leading up to this new series, Rogers may have been captured and Hydra replaced him with a clone/whatever that can infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D. He does have a different costume* and shield than the classic Captain America so that could be a way to separate them visually if it turns out to be a character that they decide to keep around. This totally seems like something in Hydra’s wheelhouse that they could pull off.
Whatever the twist to this is, hopefully it’s something that has been well thought out. Worst case, this seems like something that the writer was dared to do and figures out how to deal with it later. This is a really interesting start to a new Captain America title that hopefully lives up to the potential shown in this first issue, but it will live or die by what the resolution to this last page is.
*I like the new costume, but why does Captain America never cover up his ears? How have they not gotten shot off yet?