A couple of days ago I posted about Secret Empire #0 and Captain America: Steve Rogers #16, specifically about the revised history of Captain America that those issues revealed: that he has always been a Hydra agent, and that after WWII, the Allies used a Cosmic Cube to make Steve into the hero that comics readers knew for 75 years.
When I first read the issue, I took it for granted that this history is just a part of the new reality that Kobik created when she altered Cap’s history back during Avengers: Standoff. But several news sites—notably Screen Rant—reported that Secret Empire had now revealed that Cap had Always Been Evil! At first, I thought, “Did I read the same comic? Or did I miss something?” Otherwise, Nick Spencer has given us the Mother of all Retcons, the Retcon to End All Retcons. This would be a retcon to make One More Day look like a minor change to Spider-Man’s history.
But this reading of Secret Empire #0 seems less and less likely every day. Three pieces of evidence:
Exhibit A: Following Secret Empire, Marvel will begin an event called Generations, which will pair together most of the Marvel Multiples (Thor Odinson with the Jane Foster Thor, the two Hawkeyes, the two Spider-Men, and, of course, Sam Wilson and Steve Rogers as well as others).
Exhibit B: At C2E2 today, Nick Spencer told the audience at the Secret Empire panel, “Steve is not culpable for what he’s done here. It’s a story about him overcoming adversity.”
Exhibit C: Also at C2E2, Marvel announced it’s Legacy initiative, which will spin out of Generations. The story appears to be a way for Marvel to honor their classic core characters while also continuing their efforts at diversifying their universe (as if it wasn’t already one of the most diverse fictional universes out there). One of the most notable things about the announcement is that the promotional art shown at C2E2 features Steve Rogers front and center.
So while this might not make Secret Empire any easier for people who are unhappy with the direction that Marvel has recently taken with Steve Rogers, it does make it darn unlikely that the new “history” posited in Secret Empire #0 is the actual history of the Marvel Universe. Indeed, it’s hard to see how Generations and Legacy make any sense if Cap was really a Hydra agent all along.
As it looks right now, then, the drama of Secret Empire won’t be whether or not Steve is redeemed, but what he has to go through in order to achieve that redemption.