BY MATT TUCK
As The Falcon and the Winter Soldier airs its final episode, fans are waiting for John Walker to debut his iconic red and black costume, but what if instead of U.S. Agent, we meet Captain Hydra?
THE SAGA OF JOHN WALKER
Even before the first episode of FATWS aired, comic fans knew that John Walker would follow his roots and become U.S. Agent. As he initially took up Captain America’s shield, we all knew exactly where this was heading. Wyatt Russell did such a good job of making us hate Walker’s character that he was reportedly getting death threats. On one hand, that is astoundingly stupid, but on the other, it shows how well Russell played the part as the whole point of his character is meant to win over audiences for Sam Wilson, and it is working.
If fans hated John Walker as Captain America, what if Marvel unveils him as something far worse?
THE ROAD TO HYDRA
In the fifth episode of FATWS, we see Walker being stripped of the Captain America title, and John is offered a job by the mysterious Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. Later in the mid-credits scene, we see him constructing a new shield of his own. The easy assumption is that it will be the red and black U.S. Agent shield, but Marvel Studios could be planning a bit of a swerve by having him appear as Captain Hydra.
In the comics, Captain Hydra, aka Hydra Supreme, was a corrupted Steve Rogers whose past was altered by Red Skull manipulating the Cosmic Cube into creating an alternate timeline in which Steve became a covert Hydra agent. The news sent shockwaves across comics and into mainstream culture. People were outraged, which made Steve’s heroic return that much sweeter.
I do not expect we will get a version of that story, especially since Chris Evans is seemingly finished with his Marvel career. However, now that Val has arrived, she could be setting the stage for John Walker to become Captain Hydra. After all, she did become Madame Hydra in the comics, and Walker, whose character is now disenfranchised with the U.S. government could be swayed into taking up a new cause as her own personal super soldier.
Also in the comics, U.S. Agent is more of an anti-hero than a full-fledged villain. Marvel Studios may be looking to give Sam’s Captain America an evil nemesis in the vein of Red Skull. Having Walker take up the Captain Hydra mantle would be the perfect antithesis to not only Sam, but also the legacy of Steve Rogers. That could also help establish an evil Cap to lead a live-action adaptation of the Dark Avengers, which would make Val the anti-Nick Fury with her very own recruiting initiative.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #1
This issue remains infamous for its last panel. On the final page, in one line, Spencer shook the entire Marvel Universe as Cap uttered words we never thought we would read him saying, “Hail Hydra.” That makes this the big reveal of Steve Rogers as Captain Hydra, and it as close to a first appearance as we have.
As of now, the prices for this issue are still fairly cheap, at least for the standard edition. The last time one sold, a 9.8 brought $81 in March. That is on the way up, considering that it was a $50 comic just last year.
There are several variants for this Cap #1, and the Greg Hildebrandt 1:50 ratio variant has proven to be the most valuable. Last year, the 9.8 averaged $142. Then on February 8, one earned a record-high $191.
Another variant to keep an eye on is the Jim Steranko edition. A year ago, it had a fair market value of $60, and in 2019, it was only $38. Now, the 9.8 has risen to a record $83 following a sale in March.
Obviously, Captain Hydra/Hydra Supreme (which sounds like an evil Taco Bell item topped with sour cream) would have a much bigger impact if Chris Evans were to don the costume. Then again, the same people sending an actor death threats for, well, acting would absolutely riot. It’s probably best that, if anyone is going to be Hydra Supreme, it should be John Walker.