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Captain America: Hail Hydra! #1: Review

Jan 2011
Jonathan Maberry, Sergio Cariello

Story Name:

Hail Hydra, Part 1

Review & Comments

4 stars

Captain America: Hail Hydra! #1 Review by (August 15, 2011)
And now there is this miniseries by noted horror/thriller writer Jonathan Maberry (who also writes the Black Panther). Apparently in preparation for the Captain America movie, they decided to reinvent Hydra as the Nazi weird science unit (in regular continuity they arose in the 1960s and were not connected to the Nazis). But they do the movie one better: here it is revealed that Hydra is but the latest incarnation of a secret occult society which has existed for millennia, seeking out the secrets of immortality and scheming to make themselves gods. It is an audacious retcon and the format of the comic—five widely spaced episodes throughout Cap’s career, each with a different art team—serves to underline the villains’ long-term plans that threaten to overwhelm the hero in ways he can not imagine. So how is it? Fine, up to a point. The story is fascinating, though it veers a bit too far into Marvel Zombies territory and ends with a little too much metaphysical mush. The glimpses we get of Hydra’s sinister scheming through out history lend some color and texture to the tale. The decision to have a different arts for each issue is a cool move as well; mention must be made of Tom Scioli, who pays homage to Jack Kirby in issue #2 and Kyle Hotz who recalls the art of EC’s Jack Davis in the horror-oriented #4. I would have preferred that the grinning Dr. Geist not change in appearance so much since I was intrigued by his look in #1 and 2 but them’s the breaks. Overall an intriguing and strange epic that will shake up an old standard (and frequently boring) enemy for some time to come.

Review: An ambitious reinvention of the longtime Marvel villain group. Hydra started out as a green-clad terrorist organization in the pages of Nick Fury’s series in STRANGE TALES. If Nick was James Bond or the Man From U.N.C.L.E., Hydra was his SPECTRE or THRUSH (it was the era for spies to be big in the media). And that was that: they committed acts of terror under orders of various sinister but non-super-powered leaders, such as Madame Hydra and Baron Strucker, while causing headaches for Captain America and SHIELD.

Comments: Geist is evidently the same character who appeared as an ex-Nazi cyborg in WOLVERINE Vol. 2 #17-23. The Thule Society was an actual group, a society of scientist/mystics who combined occultism with unusual theories on the origins of the Aryan race. Auferstehung is the German word for “resurrection.” “Erlking” means “elf/goblin king” in German and “Strega” is Italian for “witch.” Issue includes a six-page preview of the “Age of X” event.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Captain America: Hail Hydra! #1 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

July 1944: Captain America and Bucky are reconnoitering Drache Castle in Germany with Trude Lohn, an agent of the German resistance to Hitler. She warns them that the Nazis are desperate and inside the Thule Society is working on Projekt Auferstehungs, rumored to be something unstoppable. The two Americans invade the castle and crash into a lab where they confront a team of scientists led by Dr. Geist. The heroes are shocked when an apparently dead man gets up from the floor and hits Bucky, then catches Cap’s shield and throws it back at him with superhuman force. Cap takes on the muscular foe and through sheer perseverance beats the man unconscious. Geist then reveals that his giant henchman, Erlking, is only one of a large team—who proceed to overpower and capture Cap and Bucky. When Cap awakens, Geist reveals that the project subjects are Nazi military heroes who died in the service of the Reich and have been raised from the dead. Geist also reveals he is no Nazi but a member of an occult society which has existed for millennia under various names and is now using Hitler as a tool in their quest for arcane knowledge. The Auferstehungs Corps is the tool of this enclave which is plotting to conquer the world with the living dead—and Cap will soon join them. Cap is forcibly injected with a chemical which will ensure his returns from the dead—then Trude Lohn enters shooting. A shot to the head seems to permanently kill Strega, one of the Auferstehungs, and Cap and Bucky join the battle. Lohn seizes the wounded Geist and tries to force him to reveal his secrets but she is impaled with a spear by a figure hidden behind a curtain (whom the reader will recognize as Baron Strucker). Strucker carries Geist off while Bucky hurls a grenade after them….

Epilogue: Members of the German resistance arrive to help in the mopping up operations. When they are alone, two of the agents are revealed to be working for Hydra—as Strega finally opens her eyes….

Sergio Cariello
Sergio Cariello
Chris Sotomayor
Adi Granov (Cover Penciler)
Adi Granov (Cover Inker)
Adi Granov (Cover Colorist)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Bucky Barnes
Bucky Barnes

(James Barnes)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

Plus: Baron Strucker, Dr Geist, Hordes of HYDRA, Nazis, Thule Society.

> Captain America: Hail Hydra!: Book info and issue index

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