Graphic Novel Review: Captain America: Steve Rogers: The Trial of Maria Hill

Captain America: Steve Rogers: The Trial of Maria Hill

Captain America: Steve Rogers: The Trial of Maria Hill - Credit: Archant

The most dangerous man in the world is... Steve Rogers?

(Panini Books)

It is the biggest betrayal the Marvel Universe has ever seen. The sentinel of liberty, the star-spangled Avenger, the paragon of heroism who inspires them to strive for greatness: Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, the living legend of World War Two, is a sleeper agent of Hydra.

The rewriting of reality by the sentient cosmic cube Kobik has established a new history for the Captain, one in which he was raised as a secret member of the Hydra network, working behind the scenes for years in order to establish their plans for world domination.

This is retroactive continuity on an epic scale, taking arguably the most celebrated of Marvel’s heroes and turning his morality on its head. Allied with a cabal of Hydra illuminati, Rogers intends to overthrow the Red Skull, currently the organisation’s leader, and establish his control over the Earth before any of his superhero compatriots realise what is going on beneath their noses.

Now his schemes are heading towards an end game, as SHIELD director Maria Hill is brought to trial for her involvement in the Pleasant Hill debacle, which saw supervillains brainwashed and incarcerated in a small American town. Meanwhile, the impending threat of an invasion by the alien Chitauri prompts the creation of a planetary defence shield, ultimately just another tool in Rogers’ machinations.

As the Captain’s plans begin to come to fruition in the present day, we learn more about his upbringing as a Hydra agent, his brotherly bond with the son of Baron Zemo, and his destiny as the chosen one who will shape a new world order.

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Writer Nick Spencer has come under fire for transforming Steve Rogers into “a Nazi”, but this couldn’t be further than the truth. Here he establishes how Hydra initially sought to use the Third Reich as a means to an end, was not allied with the Nazis, and broke ranks in the aftermath of the Second World War.

In many ways Spencer is reinventing Hydra as a socio-political force for change, albeit from a militaristic and right wing perspective, seeking to crush libertarianism and restrict personal freedoms in the interest of order and stability. It’s an argument many dictators have used in the past, and there are interesting parallels between the events in these comics and what has been happening in the USA in recent years.

Hydra is seen to exploit increased crime rates, fears over increased immigration, tensions between the haves and have-nots, and even the divisions between the superhero community after the events of Civil War II.

And as has been witnessed on so many occasions throughout history, these are exactly the sort of circumstances which lead to the rise of the far right in some shape or form.

Whether Steve Rogers can be saved from his new missions is something only time will tell, but thus far it’s been an incredible ride, and things are only going to accelerate from here. Don’t miss what is shaping up to be one of the all-time great Marvel crossover events.