As Marvel speeds toward Secret Empire, this week's Captain America: Steve Rogers #11 by writer Nick Spencer and artist Jesus Saiz sheds more light on Steve’s secret history, his relationship with Helmut Zemo, and what may eventually lead to the exposure of his Hydra allegiance.
Spoilers ahead for Captain America: Steve Rogers #11.
Steve Rogers #11 begins by playing scenes delving back into Steve’s history against the funeral of Jack Flagg, showing the time he spent alongside Dr. Erskine, who in Steve’s original continuity was the man who turned him into a Super Soldier before being killed by a Nazi spy. In Steve’s Cosmic-Cube-generated Hydra past, Erskine did indeed develop the Super Soldier program, grooming Steve to become Captain America. However, before the procedure, Steve’s programming by Dr. Faustus kicks in, and he pulls a gun on Erskine.
Steve hesitates in killing Erskine, who has become something of a mentor to him, allowing Erskine to partially break through Faustus’s programming, very nearly reaching the Steve we know and love - and possibly sowing the seeds for Steve to undo his altered past.
But before Erskine can truly get through to Steve, Helmut Zemo arrives, shooting Erskine and making it look like Steve did it to preserve his place in Hydra. Zemo explains that Erskine will be replaced by Arnim Zola, who has defected to the Unites States but is still secretly an agent of Hydra. Steve collapses in Zemo’s arms in tears.
In the present day, this story is intercut with a scene of Rogers expressing his need for Zemo, both as an ally, and as a friend, confessing that he loves Zemo like a brother, and releasing him from his captivity to prove his loyalty.
Zemo embraces him, pledging to help Steve in his goals to take down the “false” Hydra of Red Skull.
In the issue’s final scene, Taskmaster and the Black Ant investigates the crash that supposedly killed Zemo and Dr. Erik Selvig in Bagalia, finding a secret recording device that shows him a recording of Rogers saying “Hail Hydra,” before escaping the plane as it crashes.
Captain America: Steve Rogers #12 is due out on shelves February 22.