We've discussed before about a big spoiler element of what comes in Secret Empire, the upcoming event from Marvel seeing the now revealed as a Hydra double agent Captain America take over the United States and place Hydra in power, previously when discussing the zero issue. We've also done a non-spoiler review of the issue in question too.
Here this is not that. Here I'll be discussing that particular element of the issue and series to come. So beware, spoilers follow.
In our previous article, we told how it is revealed that Captain America, Steve Rogers, was always Hydra…because originally Hydra (and thus, the Nazis) won World War II. The Allies, in a last ditch attempt, use a Cosmic Cube to alter reality so that Hydra and the Nazis lose, and that is the Marvel Universe we know. A world that was artificially fabricated by the Allies, including a truly Allies-loyal Cap (possibly because the Allies never learned of his deception?). And thus, when Kobik turned Cap to Hydra, she was actually awakening his true self from the original timeline before the Allies changed everything, and thus allowing Rogers to restore Hydra to its 'rightful' position.
Rich points out interestingly how it mimics the idea of What Ifs, making the entire Marvel Universe a What If story. And one could argue that it means the entire Marvel Universe is a constant battle against the dark, always trying to reassert itself over the world, and that for the most part the heroes are winning.
However, that is not the reading I took from it, and frankly, I find myself quite uncomfortable with this new turn of events.
Maybe we should have seen it coming? After all, Tom Brevoort and Nick Spencer had both said back after that first issue of Steve Rogers: Captain America that it was more than simple mind-control. We all thought the fact it involved Cosmic Cube reality manipulation that was all they meant, but perhaps now it seems that what they meant is that Steve Rogers was always meant to be Hydra.
This is problematic in itself. Much has been made of making a character created by Jewish creators to punch Nazis a member of Hydra (who are now next to indistinguishable from Nazis in the Marvel Universe, and hell, if you're apparently cool with what Nazis do just to get your own way as an organisation then maybe you're as good as Nazis anyway). To now retcon the character as always a member of Hydra, and that was changed by the Allies reality manipulations – yeah, that's probably going to blow up again.
But then there's the other level. That the only way the Allies won World War II was through the same kind of fascist actions that Hydra would happily enact – via they're group imposing their will and their desired reality on the whole world, changing personalities and histories wholesale to fit their narrative. It may not be a fascist action, but it's certainly a totalitarian one. The heroes of the Marvel Universe may not have been the ones to have perpetrated this, but certainly it shines a troubling light on the morality of the Allies in the Marvel Universe.
There are no heroes, perhaps, merely people wanting to do the right thing. But at any cost.
It's a debate not alien to the Marvel Universe. Professor Charles Xavier is an omega-level telepath, with a machine that amplifies his abilities. He could change the minds of the whole world to make them accept mutants. He doesn't because that would be wrong. Forcing your way of life and points of view on another, rather than hoping your arguments and actions may cause them to change their own mind, would be a major violation of individual freewill.
Secret Empire posits that that is exactly what the Allies did.
That doesn't sit well with me. I'm sure there'll be many of others who feel the same.
Then, Marvel have insisted that for those who think they know the story have no idea, in a comment seemingly pointed at Bleeding Cool. Perhaps there is more to this, and that that opening scene in Secret Empire #0 is simply a false memory, or this is comics which love being wildly convoluted, maybe there was a true reality BEFORE the reality where Hydra won, where the Allies did win through non Cosmic Cube means.
Who knows. We all will after Secret Empire ends, I'm sure. But for now, this particular new wrinkle – it don't feel so good to me.