Superhero comics, more than most entertainment products, live and die on their ability to produce cliffhangers. Pop into a comics shop and look at the last page of any given superhero comic and you’re likely to find a big reveal or how-are-they-gonna-get-out-of-this-one incident designed to get you to buy the next issue. Today, the comics world got a big one. In the last page of Captain America: Steve Rogers No. 1 (don’t worry about why it’s a first issue even though the character has been around for 75-odd years), we find out that Cap is, in some capacity, working for sinister world-domination organization Hydra. He pushes a hero out of a plane and, in a full-page panel, intones, “Hail Hydra.”
The installment — written by Nick Spencer and drawn by Jesus Saiz* — has the comics Twittersphere abuzz. Earlier in the issue we see a flashback to Steve’s younger days in 1920s New York, and it appears that his mother was somehow drawn into an early iteration of Hydra. (We also get a pretty rad scene in the present era where Hydra bigwig Red Skull gives a Trump-esque rant to a bunch of recruits about protecting America from invading immigrant hordes.) What could it all mean? Spencer assured Entertainment Weekly readers that “This is not a clone, not an imposter, not mind control, not someone else acting through Steve. This really is Steve Rogers, Captain America himself.” It seems highly unlikely that this is some kind of permanent change wherein one of Marvel’s most bankable stars becomes eeeeevil, but Spencer is a talented writer, and it’ll be interesting to see what he has up his sleeve.
*This article has been updated to reflect that the artist for the issue was Jesus Saiz.