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Quote1.png It was during the cleanup after the Battle of Washington -- I came across a little boy trapped in the rubble. I reached out to him -- and he flinched. Pulled away. He was afraid of me. And I realized, this would be my life now. That even though the world had seen us fight -- even with Tony's company spending millions explaining what happened to me -- on some level, this would always be there. There would always be a scar. So I came here to see you -- to look into your eyes and take the measure of the man who cost me all this. The man who, in no time at all, took all the trust and respect I'd spent a lifetime trying to build and burned it to the ground. Quote2.png
Captain America

Appearing in 1st story

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Synopsis for 1st story

Brief Summary

Steve Rogers breaks into the prison holding his evil doppelganger, the Hydra Supreme, prompting a discussion between the two Rogers about their differing methods and ideologies. Steve disregards his evil double's accomplishments, arguing all he did was take advantage of his reputation, and that in the end, more people will learn to heed his advise not to put too much trust on a single individual. In the end, the fascist Steve warns his other self to be wary about a reckoning.

Meanwhile, it's shown the way several people carry on in the wake of Hydra's empire. Bucky Barnes follows a lead that could possibly indicate Black Widow is actually alive; the territory of New Tian taken back by the U.S. government, with Beast being hopeful about the impact the short-lived nation could have in future generations of mutants; and the Punisher wages a war against the remaining Hydra forces to atone for having joined their forces.

In the end, it is revealed one of guards of the fascist Steve is a Hydra operative. After leaving behind his evil duplicate, the real Steve comes to understand why did he pay him a visit, to remind himself that even if the heroes won the battle, it was only part of a war that never ends.

Detailed Summary

While contemplating on the healing process that the country is embarking on, a hooded figure breaks into Shadow Pillar, a high security prison completely devoid of inmates save one, the Hydra Supreme Steve Rogers. After subduing the guards, the hooded figure enters Hydra Supreme's cell while being revealed to be the real Steve Rogers.

Hydra Steve welcomes his original self and, following a moment of silence, asserts the point of his visit isn't to kill him, due to the main difference between the two being that the real Steve isn't supposedly willing to do what is necessary. Steve retorts what is necessary is for his doppelganger to remain in a cell until his trial. Hydra Steve points out the legal system is having problems with his case, due to the fact he legally didn't commit any crimes: control of the United States was handed over to him by the S.H.I.E.L.D. Act when he was director of S.H.I.E.L.D., a position he didn't campaigned for; he wasn't involved in the creation of the Planetary Defense Shield; and even then, the authority given to him by the S.H.I.E.L.D. Act included the power of pardon, which he pre-emptively used on himself and everyone in Hydra. Steve assures they will still find a way to hold him accountable, but his evil self puts that into doubt, arguing laws are unfair, worthless and hypocritical. Steve comments he's satisfied with that, as long as he pays for the people he killed, including Jack Flag, Rick Jones and Black Widow.

Jumping to Black Widow's funeral, a pastor is finishing an eulogy when Clint Barton tries to reach out to her casket in denial. He's carried out by Logan and Mockingbird. Bucky Barnes watches the funeral from a TV in a diner in Madripoor, and remembers his relationship with her. Bucky follows a man he was trailing outside the dinner and interrogates him about the target for an assassination, a popular but despicable general. Bucky attends a parade held for this general, and witnesses as he's shot by an unseen sniper. Recognizing the details of the attack, like the placement and the time, and combining it with rumors he heard, Bucky comes to the conclusion the sniper has to be Natasha.

Back inside the Shadow Pillar, Hydra Steve insists he didn't intend for any of the deaths to happen, citing his attempts to have Rick Jones swear loyalty to Hydra or at least pretend to do so in order to spare him. He then blames the real Steve, arguing that if he had had the chance, he was going to use the Cosmic Cube to bring everybody back. Hydra Steve recalls the brief glimpse of his reality he enjoyed, and warns the real one that even though it seemed it lasted a moment, things are not easy to put back where they were.

In New Tian, the United States Army is patrolling the streets while different constructions built during the nation's brief run are demolished, including Utopia. Emma Frost observes from a building afar, and is joined by Beast. Emma raises the possibility of declaring war on the United States with the little time New Tian has left before its official surrender, but Hank reminds her that the American government is back to full strength and all of its superheroes have returned. Beast consoles Emma, maintaining that New Tian's brief existence gave mutants the homeland they had dreamt of, and that it will serve as inspiration for the next generations. The White Queen laments nobody will remember for what she did for New Tian.

Continuing their discussion, Steve wonders if Hydra Steve's endgame was to change reality, making everybody loyal to Hydra in the process, pointing out being forcefully altered that way wouldn't be a life at all. Steve's evil doppelganger claims a Hydra-ruled world is the correct course of history, remarking the Allies used a Cube themselves during WWII to change the world. He insists his reality is the true one despite Steve reminding him that said timeline was an invention of Kobik to begin with. Steve's fascist double asserts that will be the sentiment of anyone proclaiming "Hail Hydra" from now onwards. Steve invites them to try take over the world, recalling that Hydra has already cycled through many ideologies and leaders. Hydra Steve brings up the Red Skull, accusing Steve of playing with peoples' lives by allowing monsters like Shmidt run wild. He argues that for Steve's duty to protect the world, all he does is fight the same old threats that continually resurface because he won't bloody his hands. Hydra Steve points at the Avengers, calling them a band of self-appointed purveyors of justice that are nothing but arrogant out-of-touch sycophants, and wonders when will Steve be held accountable.

Somewhere else, an injured Hydra soldier drags himself through the floor among fallen comrades. He's mercilessly killed by the Punisher, who, feeling he was tricked and manipulated by Steve Rogers, set out to wage war against Hydra to atone for his mistakes. After blowing up the warehouse where he killed the Hydra agents, Castle flees on his van. He's being observed from a distance by Nick Fury Jr., informing over comms that Castle is ready.

Inside the Shadow Pillar, Rogers guarantees his evil self they will answer. Hydra Steve assures a time will come when they won't, as it almost happened last time. Steve questions this claim, but his doppelganger reminds him Kobik's divine intervention saved their skins. Hydra Steve inquires for the reason of the unexpected visit. Steve mentions they hadn't had time to talk, and that suited him fine, until something happened. He recalls attempting to reach out to a small kid in Washington, D.C., only for the boy to flinch and pull away. Steve had realized that even if the world saw him fight and defeat the true villainous Captain America, on some level there would always be a scar. Because of this, he decided to personally take measure of the man who cost him all of his reputation. To the surprise of the fascist Steve, the real one isn't impressed. He accuses his evil self of acting like he did something impressive when in reality all of his accomplishments relied on people following him due to the real Steve's reputation. He additionally found a silver lining, explaining that more people will now heed his advice not to put too much trust in a single person.

Hydra Steve warns his other self that he needs to be afraid of is the people, arguing the ideals of the country were called into question when his methods seemingly were more in line with whatever the previous order offered them. Steve's fascist double predicts that as soon as the euphoria brought by the heroes' victory soothes, people will begin to remember what was it like to stand together as part of something bigger and to take control of their lives. He asks the real Steve to question who will the people side with next time, recalling that more people than he's willing to admit were proud to call themselves Hydra. Noise from outside interrupts the confrontation between the two Rogers. Before leaving, the real one warns his doppelganger that he'll be ready if he dares to return, because no matter what face he wears, he has been fighting people like him his whole life.

A unit of guards subsequently enter the cell and subdue Rogers. As he is being chained, one of the guards quietly whispers the Hydra salute to his ear, prompting him to crack a smile. Meanwhile, the real Steve monologues, revealing that he now understands why he paid the visit to Shadow Pillar, to remind himself that even if the battle was won, it is part of a war that never ends.

Solicit Synopsis


• Hydra has fallen, but the world is still not secure! As the heroes of the Marvel Universe stir from the wreckage of the battlefield, the inevitable rebuilding must begin.

• However, one question hangs in the air over the proceedings: What redemption can there be for Captain America?

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