Nick Spencer wraps up an epic event with SECRET EMPIRE OMEGA.

Each week, we use our super sleuth skills to dig into the histories of the characters fighting on both sides of Secret Empire!

Nick Spencer kickstarted an epic tale starting with CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #1 last year and this week, he wrapped it all up with SECRET EMPIRE: OMEGA #1 along with artists Andrea Sorrentino and Joe Bennett. 

Captain America: Steve Rogers (2016) #1

Captain America: Steve Rogers (2016) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Before getting to the main event, let’s look at a few of the side stories that found their completion in this issue. First, as Clint Barton wept over Black Widow’s casket, Bucky Barnes found himself in Madripoor looking into the upcoming assassination of a general who aligned himself with Hydra. When the guy gets shot, Barnes thinks that the killer had to be Black Widow.

At the same time, Emma Frost and Hank McCoy talked about the dissolution of the mutant nation New Tian. While McCoy said that the efforts to put forth a solid mutant society would mean a lot to younger generations, Frost regretted that they would never know who their actual queen was.

Meanwhile, we also caught up with one of the more surprising members of HydraCap’s crew: The Punisher. Feeling betrayed and used, Frank Castle decided to make it his mission to burn Hydra to the ground. As Punisher continued his crusade, Nick Fury looked on and said to Control, “He’s ready.”

With those mysterious set-ups out of the way, it’s time to talk about the main confrontation in this issue which came between Steve Rogers and his Cosmic Cube-created copy with the octopus tattoo across his chest. To do so, Cap broke into a jail holding just the one captive.

Inside, he faced the man with his face. HydraCap, still convinced that the reality he understood thanks to Red Skull’s essential brainwashing of Kobik, was the correct one and one still worth fighting for. He also brought to Steve’s attention how quickly people seemed to turn on one another and reach for the power he offered them.

Rogers, while concerned with the damage HydraCap did to his image and reputation, still saw some good in the whole situation, hoping that this whole nasty endeavor would stop some people from blindly following anyone, even himself.

Ultimately, though, the true Captain America believes in the goodness of people and the resilience of his homeland. We’ll see him trying to make up for the mistakes a man with his face made over in MARVEL LEGACY #1 and CAPTAIN AMERICA #695.

The Empire Strikes Back

Upon leaving HydraCap’s cell, Steve Rogers warned his double not to leave his cell, letting him know that he’d be able to spot him no matter the face he wore. As the guards rushed in at the very end, though, one of them whispered something in his ear: “Hail Hydra.” So, while the threat of HydraCap seems low at this point, don’t be surprised if we see him again!

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The sentient Cosmic Cube begins to understand her role in Secret Empire.

Each week, we use our super sleuth skills to dig into the histories of the characters fighting on both sides of Secret Empire!

It all started with a Cosmic Cube who believed it was a person. That’s the basic truth behind the events of Secret Empire, though far from the full story.

Kobik’s origins reach back to her first mention in MARVEL NOW! POINT ONE #1, though readers didn’t get a full look at her until AVENGERS STANDOFF: WELCOME TO PLEASANT HILL #1. In that crossover, we learned that Maria Hill put a plan into place that would use parts of a Cosmic Cube to re-write villains’ memories so that they would fit in nice and happy in a small town dubbed Pleasant Hill. 

Avengers Standoff: Welcome to Pleasant Hill (2016) #1

Avengers Standoff: Welcome to Pleasant Hill (2016) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

In AVENGERS STANDOFF ASSAULT ON PLEASANT HILL ALPHA #1, Kobik’s origins were revealed. Initially, S.H.I.E.L.D. intended to use pieces of a smashed Cube to make their jail a reality, but the chunks joined together to create a kid named Kobik. That, of course, didn’t stop Hill and company from using her to achieve their goal anyway.

The Cosmic Cube prison idea started making the rounds in public early on in CAPTAIN AMERICA: SAM WILSON, though it took Rich Jones’ work as the super-hacker Whisperer to get the word out Pleasant Hill. Jones actions lead to heroes like Wilson, Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes and eventually the rest of the Avengers to make a move on the prison as Baron Zemo and other baddies started regaining their memories.

During the conflagration, the then-old Steve Rogers found himself returned to his more youthful status thanks to a run-in with Crossbones that lead to him needing some healing from Kobik.

What no one knew at that time was that Red Skull had been influencing Kobik from the beginning. Upon gaining sentience, she desired to meet someone who loved her and no one loved their old Cosmic Cube like the Skull. Through their interactions, the Hydra leader indoctrinated the young woman in his ways of hate, even teaching her completely false news-laced history.

Even worse, Skull essentially programmed Kobik to not just rejuvenate Steve Rogers, but implant a series of false memories that lead to his “Hail Hydra” shocker in CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #1 and everything that lead up through this week’s SECRET EMPIRE #9

Captain America: Steve Rogers (2016) #1

Captain America: Steve Rogers (2016) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

After Standoff, Kobik spent time with Bucky Barnes in the Thunderbolts as well as some of the former villain pals she made in Pleasant Hill. She even went so far as to attempt to rewrite Bucky’s past to make him a Hydra agent, but he rebuked the very notion. When Bucky attempted to explain the reality of Hydra to Kobik, she flipped her wig and nearly destroyed everything in existence until Fixer blasted her, shattering her into the Cosmic Cube fragments.

The heroes have been looking for these pieces since Secret Empire began, but as we learned this week, Hydra attained all but one which lead to the souped-up version of Rogers seen at the end of the issue.

However, a glimmer of hope exists within Kobik herself. Another reveal in #9 came when Steve Rogers realized that he had been existing in a kind of ghost world inside her mind. Having regained much of himself, he seemed ready to jump back into the battle, assuming he could get his hands on a body, of course!

The Empire Strikes Back

If you’re wondering which of the many Cosmic Cubes used by Red Skull resulted in Kobik’s strange relationship with the madman, look no further than Mark Waid’s run on CAPTAIN AMERICA with Ron Garney which ran from CAPTAIN AMERICA #444448. Though presumed dead thanks to the Super Soldier Serum turning on him, Rogers soon woke up to the sight of the long-thought-dead Sharon Carter and the Red Skull. All three had to team up to save their own skins – reality itself – from a Hitler-infused Cosmic Cube. Upon succeeding in that task, the Skull gained control of the Cube itself and did some of his own historical re-writing, but Rogers broke free and used his shield to shatter the Cosmic Cube, slice off the Skull’s arm and blowing everything up. That seemed the end of that particular Cube until Red Skull revealed the true history in CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #2

Captain America (1968) #444

Captain America (1968) #444

What is Marvel Unlimited?

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They continue fighting for Captain America, but why?

Each week, we use our super sleuth skills to dig into the histories of the characters fighting on both sides of Secret Empire!

It might seem like every hero in the Marvel Universe remains staunchly opposed to Steve Rogers and his new role as the head of Hydra. However, as we’ve seen throughout SECRET EMPIRE, he’s got a group he still calls The Avengers. We can understand why Taskmaster, Superior Octopus, Black Ant and maybe even Deadpool made the jump, but what about stalwart Avengers Odinson, Scarlet Witch and Vision?

The team first debuted in SECRET EMPIRE #1 fighting the huge monster known as Kriggorath. When the beast refuses to deal with Captain America, he calls in his team and they utterly destroy the monster. In #3, Baron Zemo lead the team in an attack on Atlantis to retrieve a Cosmic Cube fragment only to find a decoy.

The group did the same in SECRET EMPIRE #4, when they wound up in Alaska looking for another fragment at the same time that A.I. Iron Man, Sam Wilson and the others appeared to do the same. Thanks to Hank Pym-Ultron’s machinations, the true Avengers members all sat down for a skewed take on a family dinner, but the good guys walked away with the Cube piece.

In that issue, we also got hints as to why these former heroes remain loyal to an apparent traitor. A demon called Chthon possessed the Witch, an A.I. Virus keeps Vision in line and, according to A.I. Stark in #4, Odinson “just wants his hammer back.”

In SECRET EMPIRE #5, we learn a bit more about the former Thor’s role in all this. Captain America wielded the hammer at one time to quell the opposition, but leaves it in Washington, D.C. because he doesn’t feel he needs that kind of additional power all the time.

In the same issue, Odinson wonders about his decision to stand by his longtime comrade and friend Steve Rogers. They claim to be able to help the purgatory-trapped Jane Foster and also reconnect Midgard to Asgard, but he questions how they treat the innocent.

As Thor questions his decisions, both Scarlet Witch and Vision seem to be fighting their own torments. Meanwhile, as we’ve already examined, Deadpool feels an intense devotion to Cap, but also lied to Hydra about the resistance hiding in The Mount in DEADPOOL #32, so we’ll see which way he truly goes.

If you’re wondering how Doctor Octopus went from being, well, dead to running around in a body with Spider-Man’s powers and his own unique appendages, then you should check out the Clone Conspiracy story. The short version: Doc Ock put his consciousness in a clone body. Now he’s working with Hydra to ensure Parker Industry’s utter failure, as established in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #25. And then there’s Taskmaster and Black Ant. Those guys are just bad. Nuff said.

Seeing as how Hydra’s Avengers stand big as life on the cover of SECRET EMPIRE #6, expect them to continue playing an important part in this event.

The Empire Strikes Back

Both Taskmaster and Black Ant – formerly the Irredeemable Ant-Man – go back to their days together in SECRET AVENGERS. They wound up in the super villain-run country of Bagalia where Captain America crashed a ship in CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #1. In CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #11, Taskmaster discovered the important video footage of Cap first saying “Hail Hydra” from that first issue and tried to exploit it. In the following installment, they tried selling ousted S.H.I.E.L.D. leader Maria Hill the information. While waiting to make the transaction, Madame Hydra showed up, zapped them and brought them into the fold.

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Relive the romantic ups and downs of Sharon Carter and Steve Rogers!

Like any on-again off-again couple, Sharon Carter and Steve Rogers have experienced more than their fair share of exhilarating highs and crushing lows. With the Sentinel of Liberty-turned-leader of HYDRA poised to be embraced by the masses in CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #19 on July 26, we turn our focus from that macro to the micro and look at the complicated history between these two lovers currently at odds.

Falling in Love with War Stories

Long before Steve ever met her, Sharon has “met” him through tales of her aunt, Peggy Carter’s thrilling exploits in World War II. Inevitably, the star-spangled hero would co-star from time to time as the elder Carter rallied freedom fighters in France during the war’s darkest days. Sharon found herself utterly taken by the stories, finding an idol in her aunt and perhaps developing a bit of a storybook crush on Steve

The Early Years

By the time Carter had grown up enough to follow in her aunt’s footsteps, joining S.H.I.E.L.D., Rogers had returned to the land of the living from his previous status as human iceberg. By this time, however, Carter had long left her crush in the rearview and their early encounters proved strictly business as they collaborated to take down the likes of A.I.M., Red Skull, and Batroc the Leaper.

Cap Is, Alas, A Man of His Time

Two attractive people, spending lots of time together, in intensely physical and dangerous jobs…perhaps becoming infatuated could not have been avoided. In any case, it did happen but things immediately became rocky because Rogers proved that even the most progressive of WWII vets have some biases that do not die easy. In this case, the problem came from Carter’s career choice: spy. While they never would have met if not for her job and his job being relatively equal if not even worse in danger level, Steve nonetheless wanted Sharon to step away from S.H.I.E.L.D., for her safety.

Death Becomes Her

Before Carter could properly carve into Rogers for gender biases, she seemed to die, on-camera, after being mind-controlled to commit an act of suicide bombing. In fact, it had been staged to put Sharon deep undercover. Unfortunately, that job seemingly went pear-shaped leading to her death so no one at S.H.I.E.L.D. ever bothered telling Steve that the first death, the one he witnessed, had not been real at all.

Not Really Dead!

Good news! Even that second death turned out to not be real! Bad news! Carter had been abandoned behind enemy lines.

Agent 13—Sharon’s codename—does not know the word quit though so she adapted. Turning to the life of a mercenary, she stayed strong, survived, and in time, flourished. Eventually, her skills put her face to face with Red Skull. In one of the most intense examples of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” Carter and Skull team-up to take on a Neo Nazi group obsessed with acquiring the Cosmic Cube. Knowing that Steve Rogers had repeatedly demonstrated no one stopped Nazis better than him, Skull swallowed his pride and gave Rogers a life-saving blood transfusion. The improbable trio then set about stopped the Kubecult and Carter and Rogers dispensed with Skull as well when he inevitably attempted to stab them in the back.

Partners Once More

Sharon being back, however, did not mean love immediately sprang anew. She had been changed by her years away and harbored lots of anger towards her former lover for never having tried to find her.

Instead, the two focused on their professional relationship with her aiding him to clear his name during a brief period of exile from the United States, teaming up to defeat Nightmare when he targeted some of the “most patriotic” Americans, and several other missions.

A Thaw Comes

Ironically, it would take The Winter Soldier to turn the relationship hot after months of cool professionalism. While tracking the man who had been Bucky, the duo finally allowed themselves to admit the strong feelings between them and re-engage in their romance.

My Lover, My Killer

Unfortunately, the relationship took a quick dive into tragedy. In the midst of the chaos of Civil War, an undercover Doctor Faustus got to Sharon and altered her perception of reality. All of this came to a head after Rogers turned himself in for his actions during the event. As he climbed the stairs to the courthouse, Cap caught a bullet in the shoulder from an unseen sniper. As the situation descended into anarchy, he took three more in the stomach, the end result of Carter’s programming by Faustus. Steve seemingly died due to his wounds on those steps.

A Resurrection and a Rest

As noted above, though, Carter has no quit in her. So she allowed herself to be caught by the likes of Norman Osborn and The Red Skull to help them bring Rogers back to life because they wished to control him. However, she sabotaged the villains at the last moment and Rogers overcame their influence. Now alive again, he embraced Sharon and they took some time off to just be people, not heroes, in love.

Not Even Dimensions Can Keep Us Apart

Of course, life never can be simple, so before long, fate interceded once again and sent Rogers to Dimension Z. There he raised a son while Carter refused to stop looking for him in the main Marvel Universe. In time, she found and rescued him, bringing him back to Earth, both aged by their experience, their bond reaffirmed.

Now

Sharon finds herself on the edge of a tremendous decision: Accept HYDRA and be with the man she loves or reject it and end up in jail or worse. Steve wants her by his side and it would be so easy. But can he really be the man she has cared about so deeply for so long?

Learn Sharon’s choice in CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGER # 19, due out July 26 from Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz!

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We help Baron Zemo select a Masters of Evil dream team!

In CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #12 by Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz—arriving February 22—Baron Zemo prepares a new Masters of Evil to plague our hero!

The Masters of Evil first debuted in AVENGERS #6 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby back in 1964. Under the guidance of Baron Heinrich Zemo, the team included the likes of The Melter, Radioactive Man and The Black Knight. Since then a Zemo has typically led the group, with some notable exceptions—including Egghead, Ultron, Doctor Octopus, and even Lightmaster. But under Zemo’s rule they’ve come the closest to success numerous times—until those pesky heroes interfere with their plans.

Before the new group makes their debut, we help Baron Zemo choose his underlings by offering up our suggestions for a Masters of Evil “dream team.”

1
Baron Zemo
Helmut Zemo, son of the original Baron Heinrich Zemo, has headed up the most incarnations of the team—and arguably the most successful versions. For instance, he gathered not just a team, but an army of villains to decimate the Avengers, taking over Avengers Mansion and almost killing Hercules and Jarvis. He also spearheaded the Thunderbolts when the Avengers disappeared, pretending to be the heroic Citizen V as he won the hearts and minds of the public. No matter what he has planned this time, you can bet it spells trouble for Captain America and the rest of the Marvel Universe!

2
Madame Masque
Masque served as Zemo’s right hand in the pages of AVENGERS UNDERCOVER and has proved her worth as a formidable foe against some of Marvel’s greatest heroes. Her latest exploits saw her fall to Iron Man and Doctor Doom, leaving her in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s custody, but no doubt the Baron could find a way to liberate her.

3Radioactive Man
Chen Lu has appeared with several incarnations of the Masters of Evil, even going so far as to join the Thunderbolts when he wanted to reform. But most recently the powerhouse faced off with the All-New Avengers in Marvel’s 2015 Free Comic Book Day release, suggesting Radioactive Man has returned to his villainous ways.

4
Graviton
Last seen in Avengers Standoff! as chef Howie Howardson, Graviton no doubt has a score to settle with the establishment, so why not join up to cook up something dastardly? Graviton brings a level of power that few former Masters of Evil can match, and while normally he wouldn’t subjugate himself to anyone’s command, the chance for revenge could make serving Zemo palatable.

5
Abomination

One of the Hulk’s greatest enemies, the super-strong Abomination last saw action in 2014, when a group called the Ancient Order of the Shield resurrected and controlled him in their mad quest to capture the Green Goliath. Iron Man teleported him into outer space, where he orbits Jupiter, and waits for someone like Zemo to figure out how to bring him back to Earth.

6
Steve Rogers
Wait, what? Past confrontations between Captain America and the Masters of Evil usually ended with the hero victorious and the villains in jail. But last year brought us a new Captain America, one loyal to Hydra and not afraid to get his hands dirty. So having Steve Rogers take over the team rather than sending them to prison doesn’t seem too far-fetched!

Find out who will join Zemo’s new Masters of Evil in CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #12 by Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz on February 22!

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Get to know the deadly assassin before he targets Steve Rogers!

In CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #10—available January 25—Cap finds himself up against one of the most dangerous figures in the Marvel Universe: the tremendous Taskmaster. To prep our star spangled protagonist—and you—for the dustup to come, we have put together a generous dossier on the skull-faced scoundrel.

They Take to It Younger and Younger These Days
Tony Masters grew up in Brooklyn, experiencing a fairly typical—for the pre-gentrification boom—childhood. One day, after watching a cowboy drama on his family’s television, he went into the yard and mimicked the hero of the show’s rope tricks, exactly. Not kind of got it. Exactly matched them. A doctor’s appointment and a bunch of tests later, young Masters received a diagnosis: photographic reflexes. Any physical action he observed, he could perfectly recreate.

With Great Power Comes Great Opportunities for Attention
Realizing the limitless potential of his power, the man who would be Taskmaster did the logical, if cynical, thing and set out to imitate the athletically talented. His favorite sport proved to be football and after taking in one game, he brought professional level quarterbacking skill to his high school team. Victory and adoration followed.

Whatever I Do, Crime Must Be in The Name
After graduation, Masters considered joining the ever expanding field of crime fighters. However, as he saw the potential for the public to turn on you and the lack of opportunity to make money, he decided crime committer might be a better choice. Sure, people would not love him, but he’d always have money to soothe those hurt feelings.

The Evolution of a Man Without Morals
Initially, Masters decided to go for unflashy theft. However, it also turned out to be too messy, too unpredictable. Yes, he always got his money and yes, he always got away but that kind of direct contact with the law—and with it the possibility of being shot or arrested—just did not sit well with him. So, instead, he took his money and parlayed it into a small business of sorts: he would train the criminals of the world, reap profits, and stay generally above the fray.e9b9ea57197106f1c475e0c14e6eac0d

Not Just for Crime Anymore
Sensing a revenue stream that heretofore had been unavailable, the now christened Taskmaster threw all sense of rules and structure to the wind and literally became available to the highest bidder. That meant for a time he might train super hero knockoffs like Blood Spider and Jagged Bow for criminal endeavors and then turn around and prepare John Walker—the now USAgent—for his brief time as Steve Rogers’ government sanctioned replacement.

The Only Value is Don’t Get Caught
Along with his stance on being easily bought, Taskmaster has one principle: never go down for a crime. He does not care if it makes him look like a coward. Dumb people can have pride, he’d rather keep his freedom, thank you very much. So, at the first sign of trouble, ol’ Tasky sneaks for the door. Who needs to prove themselves, really?

Still, Sometimes It’s Hard Not to Compete
His principles, like his morals, sometimes prove flexible. At times, the money becomes too high to be ignored, no matter the risk. At others, he just has to remind people that he could be the best, he would just rather count his cash. Almost inevitably, these moments where pride and greed got a little too much control of his decision making process, led to him being arrested and/or pummeled.

Cannot Keep Him Down
And yet, Taskmaster always seems to find a way back. He has been crushed in a bubble by Sue Storm, shot a bunch by Mockingbird, turned into the Avatar of the Abyss, dropped into a town of Hitlers, forever forced to forget his marriage, badly injured by Doctor Doom, had his oxygen cut by Norman Osborn, and nearly had his face cut off by Moon Knight. Still, before you know it, he returns, upright in pirate boots, swathed in blue, orange, and white, just as cocky and fashionable as ever.

Taskmaster takes it to the Star-Spangled Avenger in CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #10 on January 25!

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The artist steering Steve Rogers' destiny shares exclusive art and commentary!

Even in the Marvel Universe, where “anything can happen” comes across as an understatement, you like to believe you can count on certain things. Hulks will always smash, neighborhood Spider-Men will always be friendly and Steve Rogers, aka the original Captain America, will always be the standard bearer of all things just, right?

Not so much.

The final page of CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #1 by Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz pulled the rug out from under a populace excited to see the First Avenger back in action on the side of angels. The surprises keep on coming in issue #2 on June 29, so before things got too crazy, we roped in Saiz for some insight from the artistic perspective.

Marvel.com: How do you balance the recognizable appearance of Steve Rogers as Captain America with his updated look and very new attitude?

Jesus Saiz: Well, although the suit and shield are different, they’re still very recognizable, especially because Steve’s silhouette and body postures are still absolutely heroic, very iconic, like a Greek god’s. The difference is that, in certain scenes, we discover that new attitude, a lot fiercer and savage, something dark that we hadn’t seen in him before. It’s not that his look as changed as much as us seeing him things that we’d never expect from Captain America.

Marvel.com: A couple issues in, what aspects of the costume are you really enjoying?

Jesus Saiz: [Daniel] Acuña’s design is really interesting. What I like the most is what I just mentioned, that it’s a design perfectly identifiable as Captain America’s, heroic, iconic, but also that, depending on how you treat lighting on each scene, it suddenly can look aggressive and threatening. 

Marvel.com: When Steve’s out of mask, how do you make sure people know exactly who he is?

Jesus Saiz: Easy. He’s the strong and handsome blue-eyed hunk with blond hair. [Laughs]


Marvel.com: What guest stars are you looking forward to drawing during Civil War II?

Jesus Saiz: Honestly, I’ve arrived to the Marvel Universe a very short time ago, so I’m anxious to draw as many guest stars as possible. They’re all going to be “new” to me, and it’ll make me really happy to be able to tackle them on the page. The more, the merrier!

Marvel.com: What villains are upcoming in the book?

Jesus Saiz: You are going to have to wait and see! What I can tell you, though, is that I love love love drawing the Red Skull. I would work on a book in which Red Skull is the only character!

Marvel.com: What’s it like collaborating with Nick Spencer?

Jesus Saiz: It’s an absolute pleasure. Sometimes it’s hard, because his scripts are very choral. There’s a lot of characters and settings, even a lot of different eras, but he doesn’t stop surprising me. It’s not often that I’m eager and anxious awaiting the next script, to know what’s going to happen next, but with Nick, waiting to get the next script is way too hard!

But, all in all, what I enjoy the most are the intimate, personal scenes. He has an amazing quality, that Nick, to humanize the characters. He makes you feel they’re real people, and I love working in their world.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #2 from Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz continues to shake things up on June 29!

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Nick Spencer digs into Cap's feelings on the impending conflict!

The gravity of the situation weighs heavily on Steve Rogers as CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS enter into Civil War II with issue #4 coming this July thanks to Nick Spencer and Javier Pena.

To get the inside scoop on how Steve responds to this new conflict raging between his Civil War opponent Iron Man and Captain Marvel, we spoke to Spencer. Here’s a hint: he’s far more interested in putting an end to the fracas than choosing a side.

Marvel.com: Up until recently, Steve was back to his original age, but still helping out where he could. Now that he’s restored, does that change how he’ll approach Civil War II?

Nick Spencer: Steve has, obviously, a lot of strong memories about the first Civil War. It led to his death, and recently he’s been faced with his mortality again. Steve is in a pretty reflective place. His primary belief here, his primary driver, is that these kinds of divisions are very bad for the country and for the world. So his position is that there shouldn’t be a second Civil War. That’s really what’s going to drive him.

Marvel.com: That said, is he going to pick one side, or is he going to work on bringing peace to the different sides?

Nick Spencer: He will not be taking a side. That’s what he’s really resolute about. His position is the fighting stops, and that’s his primary concern. That’s what he’s after. He thinks that, no matter what, these two sides should be able to sit down and come up with a compromise. So, he’ll be avoiding taking a position. That doesn’t mean that he maybe doesn’t have a personal opinion one way or another, or personal concerns about the issue. It just means that his prevailing state is trying to be a peacemaker.

Captain America: Steve Rogers #4 cover by Aaron Kuder

Captain America: Steve Rogers #4 cover by Aaron Kuder

Marvel.com: This series is also dealing with the resurgence of Hydra. Do they play into the events of Civil War II at all?

Nick Spencer: Hydra will have a major role in Civil War II. Their resurgence and increased power and new approach [are] creating a heightened state of tension and anxiety in the Marvel Universe. It’s exactly the kind of enemy that you want to be able to stay in front of—they’re targeting civilians and doing it in a pretty vicious manner—so [there’s] a lot of incentive to use predictive justice against them.

Marvel.com: Steve’s got a support team in this book. Are they on his side in terms of keeping the peace, or are they going to be picking sides?

Nick Spencer: Certainly there will be a significant amount of disagreement within Steve’s supporting cast on the issue. Steve is working in close alignment with certain parts of S.H.I.E.L.D. and most of S.H.I.E.L.D. [seems] to be leaning in a pro-Carol direction, but not all. So there’s a lot of disagreement there.

Marvel.com: You’re working with Javier Pena on STEVE ROGERS #4. What does he bring to the table as Cap gets involved in Civil War II?

Nick Spencer: Javier’s awesome. I’m thrilled to be working with him. He’s studio mates with Jesus Saiz, who’s done the first three issues, so it’s fun to have a team that’s sort of working as a unit, knows each other and can share work. I’m excited about the continuity that comes with that. Javier himself is just a phenomenal artist. I’ve been a fan of his for years. It’s great to be getting to work with him here.

Nick Spencer and Javier Pena team up to send the Star-Spangled Avenger into Civil War II with CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #4 this July.

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The latest artist for the original Sentinel of Liberty contemplates costume design, the hordes of Hydra, and more!

Steve Rogers celebrates his 75th anniversary like no other! The original Super Soldier not only launches a new ongoing this year, but also finds his name continued by his friend and one-time partner in CAPTAIN AMERICA: SAM WILSON; both series feature scripts by Nick Spencer with Jesus Saiz drawing the new entry and Daniel Acuña working on the latter.

When the call went out for heroes during Avengers: Standoff!, Steve answered and found his powers and youth restored by Kobik. Now, even though his successor Sam Wilson continues to wield the shield, Steve returns with an all-new costume, shield, and ongoing series.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #1—due out May 25—not only gives the hero a brand new look and a split-apart shield, but also a fresh mission as he hunts down Hydra. We spoke with Saiz about working on the new look designed by Acuña, collaborating with Spencer, and his first major Marvel work!

Marvel.com: Drawing a Captain America series in the year of his 75th anniversary is a pretty big deal. Do you remember how you felt when you got the gig?

Jesus Saiz: Well, to be honest, I wasn’t really conscious of that at the beginning. During my whole professional career I hadn’t worked for Marvel yet, so I wasn’t really sure of how relevant it was on the current Marvel Universe. I knew he was an important character, of course, and he is one of the main icons in American comics, but I wasn’t really aware it was his 75th Anniversary and that the focus would be on his book.

I have to be candid about this saying that, when I realized it all, it was really intimidating, and I even thought for a few moments, “Maybe my first gig for Marvel should be a bit smaller not having so many eyes focused on me!” But I felt, and I still feel, really flattered, but also overwhelmed by this chance, and I’m really anxious to know the readers’ reactions to our work!

Marvel.com: This of course isn’t just another Cap series; it involves a whole new costume and shield. Can you talk about the process of figuring all that out?

Jesus Saiz: This is a better question for Daniel Acuña, artist on CAPTAIN AMERICA: SAM WILSON, because he’s the creator of the new design. I only know that I love it, although I keep feeling it works better when [Daniel] draws it than when I do it myself—because I’m still trying to know how those damned gloves work!

Marvel.com: What are the key components from a physicality perspective that come with drawing Steve as Cap regardless of the costume?

Jesus Saiz: My vision of it is that Cap must be physically perfect, like [Leonardo da Vinci’s] Vitruvian Man. His body proportions must be perfect, the perfect metaphor of his heroism. Just his presence must be inspiring and bring hope to everybody who sees him, and that’s how I try to portray him.

But Nick has asked me that, when Cap springs into action, I show him being aggressive, fiercer, more worried with attack than he is of defense, something less elegant than what we’re used to see, and we usually expect from Steve. And the story behind that detail is a delight!

Marvel.com: Hydra also plays heavily into this story. That’s a group that has been around for quite a while. How did you set out to put a new spin on it?

Jesus Saiz: Hydra is reorganizing itself. They’re practically starting from scratch, so what we see are mainly new recruits, a weird mix of people from marginal sectors of society, small-time criminals, Neo Nazis. In the first issue, there’s a fantastic chapter where we follow the biography of one of their soldiers. We see where he comes from and how he enlists in Hydra. It’s a very interesting story.

Visually, I’m trying to make it very “every day stuff.” They don’t use uniforms. They’re simply a diverse band of goons.

Marvel.com: Are there other classic Captain America villains in the offing that you’re excited to show off to people? In those cases, how do you balance building your own rendition and respecting the classics?

Jesus Saiz: Unless the editors ask me to do it, I try not to change the “official” or “classic” design at all, because I want to be absolutely respectful with the continuity of the books created by my predecessors. Nonetheless, I don’t think an artist can avoid making things his own, to interpret in his own personal way the design he’s working with — whether he likes it or not — because each one of us has a particular sense of proportion, a style that many times we’re not even conscious of, but that it soaks everything we draw in a bigger or smaller way.

Marvel.com: How is it working with Nick on this series as he continues to tell Captain America stories in both this book and CAPTAIN AMERICA: SAM WILSON?

Jesus Saiz: It’s an amazing experience! In a way, as an artist, it’s quite difficult, because his scripts are very dense. Every scene is full of characters, and frequently, what happens in the background is as important as what happens in the foreground.

It’s complicated to compose that many elements and get the page to be aesthetically attractive. But the effort is worth it, because he’s the kind of writer I wouldn’t dare to change a comma of, because his scripts are so rich and they feel so right that any change would only worsen them.

What I like the most of Nick’s work is how he defines the characters with the dialogue. That makes my work easier when it comes to give each and every one of them their own body-language and how to define their behavior, because I’m not that familiar with many of them, but Nick portrays them so well he makes it really easy for me to feel like I know them and that they’re real people. I think people [are] going to be enthusiastic with his work. I know he does have me completely hooked!

CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #1 enlists Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz to celebrate the title character’s 75 years of existence on May 25! 

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Nick Spencer and more discuss the original Cap's return with you!

Nick Spencer and Tom Brevoort dropped by to talk CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS and the return of the original Sentinel of Liberty! Relive the chat below!

Live Blog Captain America: Steve Rogers Live Blog


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