Sunday, June 26, 2016

What the 'Hail the Hydra' is going on with Captain America?

I'm calling B.S. on the "Hail Hydra" moment on the last page of CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS No. 1.

Having just read this issue a second time, it's obvious writer Nick Spencer is leading us to believe Rogers has been under the spell of Hydra since he was a kid.

But it's all a bit too intentional. Not to mention convenient.

In the pages leading up to the big reveal, Spencer uses an age-old storytelling technique -- most commonly used in films -- of showing us the proverbial banana many times before delivering the payoff of someone slipping on the banana. In this case, it's the bombshell of Captain America saying "Hail Hydra" after defeating Baron Zemo to rescue a kidnapped Erik Selvig. (What's more shocking for this lifelong Caphead is Cap pushing Jack Flag out of the aircraft just before his two-word statement.)

Except I don't think that's the ultimate payoff.

Is the "Hail Hydra" moment shocking? Sure. Does it mean Cap is a part of Hydra and possibly has been for decades? Unlikely.

You see, Spencer has included so many hints beforehand that Rogers has been brainwashed by Hydra since childhood that upon second reading, it's a bit easier to see through the ruse.

Readers are supposed to see a vague parallel between Rogers and Hydra suicide bomber Robbie Dean Tomlin.

By including the flashback sequences, Spencer wants readers to believe that Good Samaratin Elisa Sinclair was successful in indoctrinating Sarah Rogers and her son into Hydra, "a sort of civic league" before World War II.

But while the writer may certainly delivers the shocker of Steve's mother being a victim of domestic violence, the inference is also there that she's susceptible to Sinclair's seemingly good nature and in turn, Hydra propaganda.

After all, with Sarah Rogers being a victim of domestic violence and her husband being an alcoholic, the logical jump we're supposed to make is that she may feel the need to be part of something greater. Aside from having the inner strength of telling off her drunk husband, she does come off as gullible.

But I argue the impact of the Hydra community meeting will have the opposite effect on young Steve Rogers.

The community meeting to which Sinclair invites Sarah and Steve Rogers actually opens the young boy's eyes to the fact that people can be used and manipulated. I like to think the future Captain America then knows there's no place for such evil in the world -- and he lives that out during World War II after being injected with the Super Soldier Serum. (All this could be revealed in future issues; again, I'm just guessing. And hoping!)

Because after all, Cap is the same character in this issue we know, love and admire: He's a one-man fighting machine; Cap still strives to be a hero; he's concerned about the fate of the suicide bomber, offering Tomlin a way out and a helping hand toward mental health and redemption; Cap's working for S.H.I.E.L.D.; and Sharon Carter remains the love of his life.

In the scene in which Cap struggles with Jack Flag, the color palette goes red -- the same color of Sinclair's feather boa, the stripe in her hat in the black-and-white flashback sequences and of course, the Red Skull's face.

A bit too obvious, wouldn't you say?

My guess is Spencer wants us to believe Captain America has been a sleeper Hydra agent.

I just can't see that being the case. Spencer has proven he's too adept at handling Steve Rogers' world to write such a heavy-handed and cheap gimmick.

The truth is there's a bigger reveal to come and this is a bombshell to get us to find out.

Grade: B

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