WARNING: This article contains (Marvel approved) SPOILERS for Secret Empire
Marvel Comics have been expecting to see the evil Hydra Captain America defeated once and for all, and now the publisher has revealed the twist - that the real Captain America will be the one to do it. With the final issue of the series, Secret Empire #10 just days away from release, it's more than a little surprising to see the massive twist and final fight revealed by Marvel directly. Fans and onlookers can read into the decision what they like, but now the battle is set: Captain America, the original, heroic version, will return to put the Hydra villain soiling his name in his place.
Of course, the story isn't quite as simple as that makes it sound. After all, Secret Empire only exists because a Cosmic Cube was used to rewrite reality itself into one where Hydra and the Nazis won World War II. With the evil Captain America having killed his Avengers opposition, and finally constructed his unbeatable Hydra armor, the last issue of Empire promised one final battle for the fate of Marvel's Earth. So how can Steve Rogers possibly return? And more importantly, how can he beat such an overpowered villain?
Marvel has revealed those details with preview pages from the final issue, but to fully grasp how Steve Rogers can 'return' a hero, fans should probably know where he went to begin with. In short... into the Cosmic Cube itself.
The 'Real' Captain America is Still Alive... Sort Of
As anyone following the Secret Empire series, its writer Nick Spencer, or the press surrounding the decision to 'make Cap evil' knows, trust and faith have been hard to come by. Not just the decision to turn Captain America into a Nazi ally, but the claims that the story would all work out in the end, and Steve Rogers would remain the hero he had always been. The reveal of exactly what Spencer and Marvel were referring to came when the heroic, bearded Steve Rogers made his return to the story - in an unknown place, realm, or level of existence.
With Secret Empire #9, the otherworldly purgatory was revealed to exist within the Cosmic Cube (the sentience of which has taken the form of a young girl, named Kobik). As Steve stood beside Kobik and surveyed the damaged world he'd missed, and the one which Marvel fans have been reading since he was written out of reality, he understood the truth. He was not himself, not a lost traveler, and not a person at all. He was simply a memory of the person Steve Rogers had been - a memory of Kobik's, to be more specific.
Before Steve can find out whether or not Kobik can even choose to undo what she had done to reality, she fled, claiming that "he" was too scary for her to do anything but hide. Since that line coincided with the Hydra-loyal Steve Rogers donning his Cosmic-Cube-fueled Hydra armor, he seems the obvious choice. But as Marvel has now revealed, the memory of the good Captain America will be getting a chance to fight.
The Return of Captain America?
That's right, Marvel Comics has released the above images to the New York Times, depicting what is clearly the return of the classic, heroic Captain America to the reality rewritten by Cosmic Cube. Not only returning (with some telltale blue glow and smoke), but absolutely shattering HydraCap's green and gold armor with a single blow from Mjolnir, the Hammer of Thor. The images clarify what Marvel was hinting at when previously promising that the values of Captain America would save the day, and as Editor in Chief Axel Alonso explains, this was always the ending the story was building toward:
"We understood the story would challenge readers, but we also know how it ended. We also thought the story had something important to say about democracy, freedom and the core American values that Captain America embodies.”
As we hinted at above, the presence of blue light and smoke indicated Steve Rogers is quite literally cosmically reincarnated. And since the Cosmic Cube in question is now firmly implanted in Hydracap's armor, it makes sense for him to materialize directly in front of him. But keep in mind: this is still just the memory of Steve Rogers being made real. Which means whatever Kobik's motivations, no matter how noble, some controversy among fans is inevitable. Spencer and Marvel directly promised that the story would not end with 'Cosmic Cube undoing the whole thing.' We'll see if a 'Cosmic Cube recreating the good Captain America' is any more palatable.
It's also of particular importance that Steve Rogers is wielding Mjolnir in the second image. Given the aforementioned armor, a weapon of such magical power would probably be needed to tip the scales back towards the hero's side... but it raises more questions. Since Mjolnir can only be raised by people "deemed worthy," Steve's ability to lift it confirms that while he may only exist now as a memory of a reality destroyed by Kobik, he will become a fully-formed human being back in Marvel's Universe. That being said, the evil, Nazi-supporting fascist Captain America could raise Mjolnir, so who knows how firm those requirements really are.
So, what do you make of this reveal, Marvel fans? Are you reserving judgement until you read the issue for yourself? Has Marvel hooked your attention, and will you be picking up the issue you would have otherwise ignored?
Secret Empire #10 is available now.
Source: New York Times