It’s safe to say that Marvel’s decision to turn Captain America into a secret agent of Hydra didn’t go over too well.
While the potential is there for a story about how fascism can rise up in plain sight using trusted institutions and symbols, it’s clear that many fans have found the story lacking in its execution. Writer Nick Spencer has built the storyline in both Captain America: Steve Rogers and Captain America: Sam Wilson, and neither title has been without controversy. Well, this week fans got the first taste of what it has all been building toward with the release of Captain America: Steve Rogers #16 and Secret Empire #0, and let’s just say it doesn’t look good if you were expecting it to get less controversial.
Spoiler-averse among you, turn back now!
It turns out that when the sentient cosmic cube known as Kobik altered Captain America’s reality, it changed far more than anyone realized. It turns out that the whole history of the Marvel Universe was changed. In this universe, the Axis—and Hydra along with them—emerged victorious in the Second World War, and Steve Rogers was one of their agents. However, the Allies got ahold of a Cosmic Cube and used it to change reality so that they won the war, and that Steve Rogers was Captain America.
This means that when Kobik altered Cap, she was apparently changing him back to his original state, so that he could work toward correcting the timeline back to how it was at first, with Nazi forces winning. Or at least, that’s what it seems like at the moment.
I mean, this is Hydra we’re talking about here. They could be full of it, and just found this to be the narrative that Steve’s mind would most easily accept. Kobik could have changed things so that Hydra themselves believed this, despite it not being the truth. At the very least, it’s a kind of interesting, and very literal, way of exploring the “history is written by the victors” conundrum. Do we believe what we’ve always been told? Or do we believe this new telling of history, even though it’s from questionable sources?
And no matter what, this is definitely not going to be the long-term status quo of the Marvel Universe. What happens when it’s all reset? Will this lead to some sort of big fall reboot to a “corrected” timeline, as many have been speculating? There’s a lot of questions, and they’ll hopefully be answered as the Secret Empire storyline continues to roll out over the next few months.
This is sure to be a divisive development, so let us know your thoughts, concerns and hypotheses on the nature of reality in the comments below!