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Hydra Supreme & Arnim Zola

Marvel Legends
by yo go re

Ah yes, Secret Empire - or as you may recall it, "that time a certain set of comicbook fans forgot that where a story starts is not the same place it's going to end."

A clandestine ally of Hydra, Supreme Leader Captain America reveals his true allegiences and joins forces with Arnim Zola to bring Hydra to a position of dominant world power.

Remember when Sam Wilson became Captain America because Steve Rogers had been turned old? Well eventually Steve was re-youthasized (because that's how comics work) and all seemed right with the world. Unfortunately for him (and the world at large), his youth had been restored via the power of a Cosmic Cube... a Cosmic Cube that had already fallen under the sway of Red Skull. Thanks to Skull's influence, the Cube did not just restore Cap's vigor, it also re-wrote his personal history, making him what it believed to be "better" - that is, a loyal agent of Hydra.

This was not an "Age of Apocalypse" or "House of M" situation, though, where the entire world was rewritten: it was just Captain America. One minute he's Old Man Steve, life-long good guy, and the next minute he's Stevil Rogers, deep-cover facist, while the rest of the Marvel U goes on unchanged around him. Well, except for the other Hydra people who knew, whose histories were similarly rewritten to accommodate their new secret asset. The heroes went on about their business, none the wiser, until Cap saw his moment to strike.

With nearly every other hero on Earth aligned against him, not even Steve Rogers could hope to prevail forever. How very fortunate for him, then, that Hydra having access to every facet of the US government meant Arnim Zola could recover equipment from Tony Stark's labs and begin making his own modifications - thus this stylish "Captain Hydramerica" armor.

The arms and lower legs have been used before, but the torso and head are all new. The finale of Secret Empire was drawn by Steve McNiven, so it would normally seem he's the one who designed the armor, but it's clearly a hue-shifted version of the "Civil Warrior" Armor from Marvel Contest of Champions the year before. The pants have a cloth-like texture, which doesn't seem like it would be very protective when compared to the angular armor that covers his chest. Rather than a round unibeam in the middle of it, he's got a star, to make sure you can still tell it's Cap even with the green and yellow colorscheme. Similarly, there's still an A on his forehead and wings on his temples.

Cap's Hydra armor is powered by Cosmic Cube fragments, rather than an arc reactor, but his only accessory is his shield. Since Sam Wilson was using the round one at the time, Cap had started using a shield shaped more like his WWII original, but with higher-tech abilities, like an energy blade on the tip and the ability to split into two smaller shields. This toy doesn't have either of those abilities. It's just a single solid piece of plastic, with one of those hinged "clamp/peg" pieces on the back so he can cary it (although there's no hole in his back, so the peg means nothing, and the clamp is a little too small for the Taskmaster arms, so the fit isn't great).

"Hydra Supreme" Captain America costs twice as much as a regular figure would, which is annoying - even those 80th Anniversary figures only add $5, and while this design is very toyetic, it's not that special. Hasbro at least made an effort to justify the inflated price by including an Arnim Zola pack-in.

This is mostly the same mold as the Build-A-Figure, but it gets a new deco: gold instead of orange, and a lot more purple. Instead of poofy sleeves, he has Colossus's banded metal arms, which look perfectly natural with his existing legs. There's a new head, matching what was (sometimes) drawn in the story, and another copy of the existing head. The insert that creates the face in his stomach has also been redone, taking its art directly from Dan Mora's "Villain variant" cover to Secret Empire #3.

Surprising no one except the people who had decided to be up in arms about the story (come on, people, Nazi Cap is what they were fighting against, not what they were fighting for), Secret Empire ended with the bad guys losing and the heroic, non-Hydra Captain America retaking his proper place and kicking ass. [Once again we see the proper response is always to bash the fash --ed.] He may be a brainwashed pawn of evil, but this is still a stylish suit of armor that looks really nice as a toy. Even the reheated Zola has new things to offer, making him not a worthless part of this two-pack.

-- 10/14/19


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