I remember back in 2011 when I first started reading comic books, it was all DC. The New 52 which was their reboot of the comic universe made it extremely easy to get familiar with the characters and the stories. Fast forward many years and I guess I wanted to start reading Marvel’s novels too. The only problem was it was difficult to find where to start. So I looked at the last reboot Marvel did which was the ‘All-New, All-Different Marvel’ series. There I found that Sam Wilson had taken up the mantle of Captain America, however, through some mysterious process, Steve Rogers found himself rejuvenated as a young man again, and sharing the title with Sam.
‘Hail Hydra’ sees Steve working in tandem with S.H.I.E.L.D. as he was before he was de-aged. His romantic partner Sharon leads it, and they’re all happy to have Captain America back in the field. However, Marvel decided with this reintroduction of Steve Rogers as Captain America to throw in what must have been one of the greatest plot-twists of all time. Kobik, the mystical embodiment of the cosmic cube had been working with Red Skull the entire time, and in ‘Standoff’, when Steve Rogers is de-aged he is also turned to a Hydra henchman, working for his arch-nemesis, the Red Skull. Steve now working for Hydra is attempting to bring Hydra to the forefront of the world, whilst maintaining his disguise as an Avenger. At the same time, we get flashbacks to Steve’s childhood in which his mother is unwittingly recruited by Hydra in the US during WW2. The woman who recruits Steve’s mother, however, is only interested in one thing; obtaining Steve for Hydra’s super-soldier programme. Will Steve’s cover be uncovered or can he destroy the Avengers from the inside? And will he stay loyal to the Red Skull?
Having read two of the Sam Wilson Captain America novels I was pleasantly surprised that Marvel decided to have both Captain Americas operating at the same time in the same continuity. That being said, apart from the quite drastic plot-twist, the novel itself is complicated and at times the issues shift so rapidly that it takes a bit of time to orientate yourself to where the story is. There is a lot of involvement from other Marvel characters which is always enjoyable to see. I do feel that the entire premise of Steve becoming Captain America in this continuity was slightly pointless. At least that’s what the novel felt like. I do wonder where the story can progress from here so that both Captain Americas have differing roles.
In terms of the artwork, I thought that some of the panels were good, but there was nothing that really stood out to me. The covers were fairly the same. I have found that Marvel artwork tends to be largely average compared to DC where I’m a fan of many of their in-house artists. Overall, this wasn’t the worst novel in the world, but I do think in the larger scope of things, it was fairly useless. It may change going forward, but that’s where I stand as of now.
There were quite a few good panels in this novel, but this one stood out. It was nice to see these two on the same side for once!
Despite the massive bombshell that this series starts with, it’s Captain America. Even as a psuedovillain he’s so charismatic!
Story Arc: ★★★
Character Development: ★★★½