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Beginner's Guide To Captain America: HYDRA

Who is this cult-like horde whose legions bedevil Cap? And what do they have to do with ninjas and G.I.JOE's COBRA?

"Hail, HYDRA! Immortal HYDRA! Cut off a limb, and two more shall take its place!”

Sounds like the chanted mantra of a cult, doesn’t it? You wouldn’t be too far off. For all its appearance of corporate structure, the super-terrorist organization known as HYDRA surprisingly has its roots in the Marvel Universe’s most infamous ninja cult - - the Hand. See, near the end of World War II, Nazi super-villain Baron von Strucker fled from Germany to Japan and usurped leadership of an ultra-nationalistic underground outfit that had high-ranking Hand members in its upper echelons. After killing the group’s “Supreme Hydra” and assuming his role, von Strucker repurposed the nationally-focused cabal into an organization with global schemes.

Effectively, HYDRA would continue Nazi Germany’s world domination agenda, but with iconography inspired by Greek mythology instead of Asian mysticism and ancient Roman regalia. The thinking behind their mantra is that their ranks are so great, if an enemy were to kill one member, there’d be at least two other members available to avenge him. That would more-or-less evoke the nature of the Lernaean Hydra that Hercules famously fought during his Twelve Great Labors. If one of the serpentine beasts’ heads were ever cleaved, two more sprout out instantaneously from the stump.

== TEASER ==

Throughout the decades of Marvel continuity, HYDRA has been up to countless, over-the-top schemes that have ranged from unleashing death spore bombs to ringing an “Overkill Horn” that would detonate all nuclear weapons on Earth at once. In addition to Baron von Strucker, its high council includes such rogues as Viper, Madame Hydra, Commander Kraken and the Gorgon who have done battle with Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. for years on end. Though it has no short supply of green jump-suit wearing footsoldiers, HYDRA’s ranks are more remarkable for at times including otherwise unrelated supervillains like the Kingpin, Man-Killer, Mentallo, the Fixer, the Grim Reaper and even Spider-Woman (prior to her reformation.)

HYDRA’s gone through some key changes in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER. Rather than being a terroristic organization founded to continue fascistic world domination plans after the war, it’s been reimagined as a secret special weapons division of the German army. It’s the Red Skull who founds this version of HYRDA - - not von Strucker - - and he apparently intends to use it as his own personal army for a coup that would wrest control of the Nazi empire from Hitler.

The focus on special weapons has a few interesting links to continuity. For one, it effectively combines HYDRA with its splinter group AIM - - the Advanced Idea Mechanics who engineered the Cosmic Cube that'll appear in THE FIRST AVENGER from a decidedly-less-scientific source. Secondly, HYDRA possesses substantially-advanced weaponry in the comics as a result of von Strucker stealing technology from aliens at the end of the war. And finally, it’s HYDRA’s activity in the comics which leads the American government to establish S.H.I.E.L.D. as a direct counter-measure, so THE FIRST AVENGER may also be an origin story for that mysterious organization we’ve seen in every Marvel movie so far.

I’ve noticed some fans saying that, in the trailers, HYDRA looks similar to COBRA, the ruthless terrorist organization from G.I. JOE. Such observers are partly right, but they’ve actually got it backwards. G.I. JOE, the cartoon so many are so familiar, was actually developed from an unused proposal for a comic about the next generation of S.H.I.E.L.D. that would’ve been led by Nick Fury’s son in the 80s. Swap Duke for that son, General Hawk for Fury, the Baroness for Viper, Destro for Baron von Strucker and then Cobra Commander for the Red Skull, and the parallels are unmistakable.

16 Comments
Posted by StriderNo9

Wow, so G.I. Joe was suppose to be Hydra, VS Shield?

Posted by thorwhore

These Beginner's Guide's are always so helpful. Nerd level knowledge is now over 9000!!
Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

The parallels are definitely there. I enjoyed this article! What unfortunately many do not even realize is that the concept of HYDRA is rooted not just in the Hand of the MU but its very namesake is begged/borrowed/stolen from an earlier series of villain collectives that fought the masked avenger known as The Shadow.  Just look at the names of the villain collectives he fought: The Silent Seven, The Hand (I'm not even making that up), The Salamanders, and finally The Hydra (once again, not making this up).  In so many ways one can go on to argue then that evil organizations that we come to take for granted had their inspiration in stories revolving around Kent Allard's/Lamont Cranston's adventures.  Amazing, no?

Posted by King Quisling
@striderno9: Yep! You can really see the similarities between certain characters in those early G.I.Joe's comic.
Posted by inferi22

looks like kick ass

Posted by Meteorite

"Secondly, HYDRA possesses substantially-advanced weaponry in the comics as a result of von Strucker stealing technology from aliens at the end of the war.''
 
Oh dear.

Posted by ferpuerto17

I am sooooo waiting for this movie

Posted by Namor1987

I always thought HYDRA & COBRA were very similar & sister organizations.
Posted by cyberninja

It's sad that the article didn't mentioned the greatest Hydra Agent of all time, Bob. 

Posted by GTG12
@cyberninja
 
haha bob is pretty cool.
Posted by Grimoire

Actually did not know much about them so thanks for the info.

Posted by zombietag

i liked 3 minute experts more

Posted by johnjcoe

I hope the movie's gonna be great.  IMO, introducing the Red Skull and HYDRA is tipping the hat too soon, though.  That being said, I can see why they didn't want to use Nazis as the principle villains.  But they DO appear somewhere in the movie, right?  Nazis-as-villains, is so ubiquitous in  movies, books, comics, etc., that I think Marvel could've done it w/o ANY backlash.  I sense Disney's meddling here.  They bought Marvel late enough in Cap's movie development to effect THAT change in the script.  A couple of years ago, when the movie was still in early development, I sent Babs a rough outline of MY take on the movie, where it ended /w Steve being frozen, and Bucky's death, then an Arctic expedition finding Steve's body in the ice, with Steve's hand, sticking out of the ice, teasing us /w a sudden twitch.  The post-credits reveals a (modern day, monitor playing news footage of Steve's remarkable recovery.  We see Red Skull's face reflected in the screen.....  The sequel would deal /w Steve's modern-day 'resurrection', and how Red Skull created HYDRA to secretly carry on his quest for world domination.  I always envisioned it much like in The Ultimates 1, where Steve has a VERY hard time adjusting to modern-day America.  Millar's scene /w Steve and Nick Fury at Arlington would be very moving on film.  And that scene b/w Fury and Steve when he's first thawed out?
Fury:  "I'm Colonel Nick Fury."
Rogers:  "Nice try, but I know the highest-ranking black man in the Army, and he's a Sargant!"  WHAM!
THERE'S your Comic-Con teaser-trailer!

Posted by Eyz

Let's not forget the best o' 'em all.
The fantastic,
the amazing,
the spectacular...   
 
BOB, Agent of HYDRA (sort of~) 

Posted by SUPER-MAN 23

Beginner's guides are always awesome, especially with them being related to Cap's movie

Posted by Emperormeister734

Nice in a one-shot comic book, I always wanted to see Hydra get into a fight with A.I.M.