Comic books, especially superhero comic books, tend to revolve around big moments. That’s why huge splash panels exist, that’s why the Justice League was formed, and that’s why characters who die almost always get brought back to life. Things tend to go in cycles, too, with big moments escalating and escalating until they erupt into universe-altering events like DC’s Crisis On Infinite Earths or Marvel’s Civil War. After that, things return to the status quo (either quickly or gradually) and the cycle begins again. A few years ago, one of these events ended in Captain America turning into an old man and giving his shield to Sam Wilson, the superhero known as the Falcon, who became the new Captain America. Today, the cycle begins again with the release of the first issue of Captain America: Steve Rogers, a new book that de-ages the old Cap and gives him his superpowers back, returning things to the status quo.
However, the cycle must continue, and there must always be more big moments to build off of, which brings us to the shocking final page of Captain America: Steve Rogers. After a traditionally heroic adventure, Cap tosses D-list crimefighter Jack Flag out of a plane, turns to a kidnapped Dr. Selvig (the guy from the Thor movies), and says:
Captain America says “hail Hydra,” the catchphrase of his most hated foes (who also happen to sort of be Nazis). This comes alongside a series of flashbacks that suggest Cap’s mom got recruited by Hydra when he was a kid, and it all seems to point toward Steve Rogers secretly being a bad guy. Also, to make it even clearer, Captain America: Steve Rogers writer Nick Spencer told Entertainment Weekly that this Hydra Cap “really is Steve Rogers, Captain America himself,” noting that it’s “not a clone, not an impostor, not mind control,” and “not someone else acting through Steve.” Spencer also says that the next issue will explain more about what’s going on, but for now it seems like the real Steve Rogers has chosen to side with Hydra under his own free will—and he might have been working for Hydra this whole time.
Here’s the thing about all of that, though: It’s not as big of a deal as people are making it out to be, considering that Time covered it, there’s a Facebook trending topic about it, and #Nazi was blowing up the charts on Twitter earlier today. Even without blaming it on an impostor or mind control, there are about a million different ways that Marvel could get out of this. Cap could be a double agent, the process that de-aged him could’ve screwed something up, or there could be some big time travel scheme involving Hydra going back in time and corrupting Steve Rogers when he’s a kid.
This may be the real Cap, but there is absolutely no chance that Spencer and artist Jesus Saiz are going to claim that he has been secretly working for the bad guys for 50 years of comics and 90 years or so of in-universe continuity. Steve Rogers punched out Hitler in the ‘40s, he turned down a chance to be the President of the United States in the ‘60s, and he’s made dozens of memorable speeches about what it means to be an American over decades of stories, so why would he do any of that if he were working for Hydra? Plus, there’s the fact that Captain America was created by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, both of whom happened to be Jewish.
So yes, Captain America is apparently a Nazi, but the cycle’s going to loop back around eventually, and—whether it takes another few years or just one more issue—he won’t be a Nazi when that happens. That’s just how comics work.