Steve Rogers remembers his mother Sarah packing. She said they could never meet with HYDRA again. When there is a knock at the door, the boy’s mother told him to hide. Ms. Sinclair was visiting, having been worried after Sarah missed their last meeting. She asked to come in… they needed to talk.
In the present, Steve Rogers approaches Dr. Selvig, who is shocked and does not understand. Rogers explains that the Red Skull ordered the doctor’s death, seeing him as a liability. But Steve disagrees. Together, they will work to restore HYDRA – the true HYDRA, not the abomination it has become under the corrupted influence of one man. Rogers understands that Selvig might be reluctant about all this, so he offers a gesture – this lab. Securing it wasn’t easy; in fact, it came at a terrible cost. This lab belonged to an old villain named the Red Ghost. After being mangled by Steve Rogers, he forced Ghost to activate a mysterious protocol known only as Project ONICEF. Captain America remarked at the villain’s incredible work, saying he should be proud of what he has done here. The villain ranted about how he was trying to make the world a better place. Cap said he will, he did, but he needed something else from the doctor – his silence.
Cap gives Selvig a tour. For now, he’ll have to stay here, and, for everyone’s safety, certain parts of the lab are to be locked off. As for SHIELD… they are already busy destroying themselves. As they speak, Maria Hill is being investigated over the Pleasant Hill initiative. This hearing will be conducted by Everett Ross, a government worker with close ties to Wakanda. Maria says this is a mistake – with the Red Skull coming, a war in inevitable. Ross happens to agree, which is why they need SHIELD at it’s best. And for that to happen, Maria can’t be the one leading it.
Meanwhile, the US Senate is conducting a hearing to consider radical new proposals by Sharon Carter in order to combat the latest HYDRA threat. The senators are concerned about civil rights, but Carter insists the threat they face is unique, and that her and Captain America personally endorse this proposal. They need the Senate’s help.
As for the other superheroes, well, they don’t trust each other. They’re going to end up distracted because of it. Too busy to worry about Rogers and his plans. So they’re not a concern. But one person remains a loose end – Jack Flag. Watched over by Rick Jones and Free Spirit, the young hero still hasn’t woken up…
In Bagalia, Taskmaster reviews the plane crash that allegedly killed Selvig. They find the remains of Zemo and somebody they assume was the good doctor, but little else. Taskmaster isn’t satisfied, however, and wants to take a look at the flight controls. Something isn’t right here…
Selvig realizes why he’s been rescued – Kobik. They will need to make sure she doesn’t accidentally reveal what Cap really believes in. Though Selvig points out she could be literally anywhere, Steve says he already knows where she is. In orbit around Earth, the Thunderbolts are in a heated battle with alien invaders. Kobik says the invaders are just scared, and she can make it better. In a second, the aliens disappear. Kobik sent them home, and she can do the same for the team. The Thunderbolts find themselves back at Pleasant Hill. This upsets Fixer who yells at the little girl. She apologizes, and Winter Soldier calms her down, explaining this isn’t home anymore. She returns the team to their base, where Fixer warns Bucky that he needs to get the girl in line… or he will.
Kobik feels bad, realizing she must have done something wrong. Bucky tells her it’s okay, and that they’ll play some video games together in a bit. She walks off, happy, when Bucky gets a call from Rogers. He tries to speak, but Kobik secretly cuts off the communication. Rogers has tried this a few times now, but isn’t worried. There are other ways to make contact. Elsewhere, a young woman named Avril is meditating, when she sees a vision of a gruesome beast. Wendell tells her to calm down, and guides her out of it. He explains that the quantum bands take some getting used to – but she’s Quasar now, its part of the job.
Rogers and Selvig will need to act fast. They aren’t the only ones after the cube. The odds are stacked against them, but Rogers has faith. This is what he’s been working for every day of his life: Ever since he was a little boy.
Rogers watched Eliza Sinclair and his mother argue. Sarah claimed that HYDRA killed her husband, and, however abusive he was, she can’t accept this. When Sarah moves towards Sinclair, one of Eliza’s men killed the mother. Rogers tried to run, but they found him. It was okay though. Sinclair had big plans for the boy.
The world needs saving. It is corrupt and weak. They have to win. It’s their destiny. The future has been foretold. The glory of HYDRA will be restored. It will be the strength it once was. And only one man stands in their way…
Well, what am I to do with this? On the one hand, I do want to like this comic. It’s art is fantastic, and there are some great, great moments here. Cap murdering a villain and his ape minions? Brutal! Cap as a boy watching his mother being murdered in cold blood! Pretty heavy stuff! I even liked Everett Ross appearing here. For those that don’t know, he’s a Black Panther character. He was even in the Civil War movie – the guy played by Martin Freeman. He didn’t have much to do but will probably have a cool part in the Black Panther movie. So, that’s neat, I guess. But… there are a lot of problems here.
Like issue three, a lot of this comic feels drags out. After the first two issues delivered bombshell revelations and twists, issues three and four seem to mostly be giving us bits and pieces of what’s going on without anything great to sink our teeth into. And while there are plenty of interesting plot elements, there’s also a lot of junk cropping up. The stuff with Maria Hill, Jack Flag, and Quasar really feel like they’re dragging the comic down. Some subplots are cool, like I enjoy how Taskmaster seems to still have a role in this story, or the Thunderbolts had a great and hilarious couple of moments here, too.
But there’s so much going on here at once that every story only moves an inch forward. So it has a really slow pace to it that I struggle getting past. And as for it being a tie-in, well, it uses Civil War II as a sort of backdrop to these events, which is good for the ongoing story, but not so great if you wanted his thoughts on the Civil War. So it also feels behind the event itself, meaning this issue doesn’t really offer anything new to the the larger, ongoing event as a whole.
If you are still really into this whole HYDRA Captain America thing, this comic’s fine. Not bad. It wasn’t a terrible comic, but it didn’t leave me super excited about any of this. I’m hoping once the comic stops perplexity dragging it’s feet and gets to actual excitement, things will get better.