It seems like there may be hope for Steve Rogers to may a heroic return to the Marvel Comics universe after all.
Spoilers for Secret Empire #9 follow.
The original Steve Rogers may have had become a Hydra sleeper agent after having his history hacked by Kobik, the sentient cosmic cube, but it seems Kobik made a kind of backup copy of the original Captain America and has him stored away in her memory.
Throughout Nick Spencer's Secret Empire series there have been cutaways to a separate story, illustrated by Joe Bennet, of what appeared to be an amnesiac Steve Rogers wandering through a wooded area and trying to get back home.
As Rogers has wandered he's encountered several familiar faces, though he couldn't quite recognize them. Secret Empire #9 reveals that this realm exists inside of Kobik's head. The amnesiac Steve Rogers is Kobik's memory of Steve Rogers as he was before she altered him during the events of the Avengers: Standoff storyline.
In Secret Empire #9, Kobik tells Steve Rogers to "remember" and he does, right up until his fight with Crossbones in Standoff. The next he knew he was wandering these woods. Kobik catches Steve Rogers on what happened since he has been by showing him a golden fountain where he can see the events leading up to Secret Empire and what he has done since going public as the head of Hydra.
As fans might expect, Rogers begs Kobik to fix things, to allow him to go back and make things right. However, Kobik refuses and runs off, apparently scared of someone, and the world around Rogers shakes.
There's some interesting potential here. That this memory of pre-Hydra Captain America still exists means that an untainted Captain America can reenter the Marvel Universe if Kobik wills it. He may even get a brand new body, allowing Marvel to keep Hydra Captain America around as a villain for later use if they see fit.0comments
What's also interesting is that Kobik has been nearly reassembled in her cosmic cube form. Hydra possesses all but one of Kobik's shards, and the shards they do possess are now being used to power a set of Iron Man armor that Hydra confiscated from Tony Stark's laboratory. The cosmic cub seems to have a physical connection to Hydra Cap, perhaps allowing the original Steve Rogers an opportunity to reassert himself in his original body.
Secret Empire #9 is on sale now.