Warning: This article contains spoilers for Free Comic Book Day's Secret Empire.
This year's Summer Event, "Secret Empire" is the culmination of everything controversial writer Nick Spencer has been working for since last year's Captain America: Steve Rogers #1. It's a deeply political story in which Steve Rogers's history has been rewritten, transforming the Sentinel of Liberty himself into Hydra's greatest leader!
To celebrate this year's Free Comic Book Day (May 6th, for those who don't know), #Marvel is releasing an exclusive Free Comic Book Day one-shot to tie in with the event. Where these issues are usually fairly irrelevant, this time round, the one-shot sounds to be an essential part of the tale.
Nick Spencer's Latest Twist
#Hydra's Captain America has proved to be a ruthless fascist, his heart and soul committed to the cause. He has manipulated his way into a position of absolute political power, and carefully orchestrated a masterplan that's taken most of Earth's greatest heroes off the board. He's lied — and even murdered — for the cause of Hydra.
But he's worthy.
That's right, it seems the final page of Free Comic Book Day Secret Empire shows Steve Rogers, Hydra's greatest agent, wielding Mjolnir. We know this because Marvel figured it would leak, and gave a couple of fans a chance to read the issue at C2E2. As you'd expect, the key image (above) has leaked online.
If you though Hydra Cap was controversial, you ain't seen nothin' yet.
What On Earth Is Going On?
Taking a step back from the shock, it's a fascinating plot twist — and it actually makes sense. Consider this: like all the best villains, #CaptainAmerica doesn't believe he's the bad guy. He truly believes that the world needs to be under Hydra's control. In his warped mind, he's standing as a champion of humanity, destroying the old order in order to bring about a glorious new world.
In fact, Captain America is so committed that he's willing to die for this. Civil War II: The Oath revealed that Steve Rogers has seen a vision of the future in which Hydra triumphs at the cost of his own life, as he dies in battle against Miles Morales's Spider-Man. Significantly, that vision showed him in Washington D.C. — and Secret Empire #0 ended with him heading for the White House. Captain America is committed to his cause, so much so that he's deliberately set into motion a plan that he believes will cost his life.
Meanwhile, over in the pages of The Mighty Thor, we've recently learned why Thor Odinson has become unworthy to carry Mjolnir. He's unworthy precisely because he believes he is. Jason Aaron's run has added a disturbing twist to the legend of Thor's hammer, linking worthiness to the bearer's sense of self-worth.
Put these two plot threads together, and you have Mjolnir being raised by a man who is supremely confident in his own self-worth, who is willing to sacrifice even his own life for what he believes to be the greater good. Apparently that's enough for Mjolnir to consider Hydra Cap to be worthy, and we have no idea what's happened to poor Jane Foster in the meantime.
So, Hydra's Captain America has pretty much taken over the USA. He's locked his greatest threats offworld behind a planetary energy shield, and trapped street-level heroes under a shroud of Darkforce. He's taken full control of S.H.I.E.L.D., the USA's armed forces, and even the emergency services. He's parked his Hydra battlewagon on the White House's lawn. And, to top it all off, he's just raised Mjolnir — and so has the power of Thor himself.
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As Nick Spencer observed, when fans read the issue at C2E2 one of them wound up screaming uncontrollably. This FCBD one-shot is sure to be another controversial chapter in Nick Spencer's career — but, just as Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 was a bestseller, so this issue is likely to drive a lot of business for comic book retailers. I kind of have an image of Nick Spencer sitting back and saying the words of Palpatine:
"Everything is happening as I have foreseen."
Do you think Hydra Captain America is worthy?
(Source: ScreenRant; Poll Image Credit: Marvel Comics)