Written By: Nick Spencer
Art By: Jesus Saiz
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: July 27, 2016
*Non-Spoiler and Score At The Bottom*
Well the last issue definitely opened a few eyes, didn't it? Last issue, we learned why Steve Rogers was now a HYDRA agent and why he had to kill Jack Flag in the first issue. Kobik, the sentient cosmic cube, was manipulated by Red Skull to change Steve's reality so he would now work for HYDRA under him. While it wasn't very shocking, it does make me wonder how he's going to be fixed. That will have to wait however as he and the rest of his "team" are now in the middle of their mission, and they just lost one of their teammates. Will people find out that Steve Rogers is a traitor? Let's dive in and find out…
We actually open up in the past where we see Sarah Rogers, Steve's mother, at an all women's meeting for HYDRA. After the meeting is concluded, Elisa, the Woman who saved Sarah from her abusive husband, pulls her aside to talk about Steve. She asks if Steve could join the "Student program", but Sarah is clearly concerned about it, especially with her job at home. Then it takes a strange turn where Elisa actually begins hitting on Sarah... and Sarah considers it for a moment. I'm fine with Elisa being a lesbian, but it's still the weird that all of this is fabricated by Kobik. I don't think we needed weird sexual tension between Elisa and Sarah in the grand scheme of things, and I don't think this is something Kobik would have added.
Cut back to the present, and we find Steve contacting the Red Skull to report on what happened during the mission. Shortly after pushing out Jack Flag, he talks with Dr. Selvig, but also reveals that he can no longer live. Captain America then jumps out of the jet as it crashes into a building, killing both Baron Zemo and Dr. Selvig. This pleases the Red Skull, but he wanted to know more about what happened after the jet crashed.
Free spirit and other SHIELD agents quickly find Jack unconscious on the ground, not breathing. Sharon Carter, the commanding officer for this mission, wants to quickly pick him up. There's just one problem: they are in a Bagalia. Bagalia is a city with very little laws… The perfect stomping ground for tons of super villains. Despite agents disagreeing, Sharon demands that their Quinjet is to be lowered so they can get Jack. A few villains already begin hassling Spirit, but the moment Sharon appears with other agents, #%*% hits the fan as the 'sheriff' of Bagalia arrives to give them more trouble. The Sheriff? Taskmaster. This entire sequence was very tense for me. I knew they were going to get out but when you put them in a position that, in the words of Rick Jones, is like Blackhawk Down, you get that sense not everyone is making it out.
Taskmaster and the other villains attack, but Cap joins the fray as Taskmaster pins Sharon down. Taskmaster quips about the new shield, claiming that it really isn't aerodynamic for his iconic shield throw. Cap's Response: The bottom of the shield fires off at Taskmaster and Steve begins beating him... BAD. On the one hand, Sharon could see this as Steve being overly protective after he lost her the first time when she got left behind in Dimension Z... On the other hand, I don't think anyone would think that it's perfectly normal to see Steve Rogers brutally beat a villain to the point blood splatters on his face. Maybe an agent or Sharon will note this in the coming issues, but right now that should start keying them in that he might be something a little bit more sinister.
The villains continue to attack, and while SHIELD is able to hold them back, Rick Jones clearly sees that they are going to lose this fight. It's time to show what Rick Jones is actually good for! He hacks into the five casinos of Bagalia and calls out to the villains and says that he will dump all of the casino's funds, meaning that all the villains will lose their money if they don't leave now. Clearly, this means more to them than fighting old Captain America, so they rush off. With the mission being a "success", SHIELD brings in Jack Flag, learning he has a pulse after the fall.
Back in the present, Red Skull learns of this and is very disappointed, telling Steve that he should've let him die with Zemo and Selvig. Steve claimed that he believed Jack deserved a proper funeral… That's when Red Skull asks about the boy on the train. In the opening of the first issue, Steve Rogers tried to convince a young HYDRA suicide bomber not to go through with blowing up the train they're on. While he wasn't able to do it, Red Skull still berates him for trying to help... And that he's soft... Readers, I think it's clear that Steve Rogers might not be as HYDRA as we think.
We end the issue with a flashback of Elise ordering the death of Steve's father, and in the present-day Captain goes into his secret chamber to reveal that Dr. Selvig is alive and well, asking if he's ready to do what has to be done.
Bits and Pieces:
While not a perfect issue, as there are some plot issues I have, I still found myself to enjoy this chapter of our HYDRA Captain. The tension was high, the action was cool, the quips felt natural, and the art of Jesus Saiz continues to make the series look great. While I can't wait to see where the story goes, we now enter the Civil War II tie-ins... I hope they'll be good as this issue.