Sunday, February 28, 2016

Hail Hydra #4 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Man, Remender ends his time on "Captain America" grimly.

The good news -- as long as it lasts -- is that Ellie has managed to gain control over the symbiote that possessed her last issue.  As a result, she's able to save Ian after he decided to leap to his death to prevent Leopold from getting access to the healing technology in his suit.  Reunited, they flee the HYDRA Avengers (composed of villains from Remender's run, including Dr. Mindbubble and the Iron Nail).  Along the way, Ian tries to convince Ellie to flee to Earth-616 with him, but Ellie resists surrendering.  This discussion happens against the backdrop of a flashback, where we see Ian having a similar conversation with Steve.  Ian asserts that Steve's approach to fighting evil -- of imprisoning, rather than executing, villains -- is just a series of lateral moves that failed to accomplish anything.  It's not exactly a warm father/son moment.

At some point, Ellie and Ian get trapped in a mindbubble, and this experience allows Ian to come to realize that Steve's way prevented Earth-616 from falling to HYDRA, as this Earth had done.  But, it doesn't solve his existential crisis, highlighted in his original conversation with Steve and the mindbubble one:  even if Steve's methods are suited to Earth-616, maybe Ian's methods means that he belongs in Dimension Z.  Ian and Ellie escape the mindbubble and they manage to get to the Infinity Elevator.  Ian hits the button for Earth-616, but one of Iron Strucker's shots fatally wounds Ellie.  Ian laments that they failed, though Ellie says that they succeeded because they tried.  An enormous explosion ensues, one that Strucker insists his blast couldn't have caused.  The Avengers search through the wreckage, but don't find anything, with Leopold declaring that they were "gone, as if they never existed."  Then, the final panel simply reads "Futility."

Seriously, it's dark.  It's unclear if Ian survived, and I'll be really sad if he didn't.  I think he's really the legacy of Remender's time on "Captain America," analogous to Brubaker's Bucky.  I'd be devastated to see him go.  But, I'm pretty sure that we haven't seen him yet in "Captain America:  Sam Wilson" or elsewhere in the new Marvel Universe.  He clearly hit the "616" button in the Infinity Elevator, and Remender implies that this action represents him making the choice that he belonged there.  But, it's unclear what Remender meant by ending the issue with the word, "futility."  Does it mean that Ian's efforts are futile, like he alleged that his father's were?  I hope that it doesn't, but I'm hard pressed to see what else they could be.

Putting aside Ian's fate, Remender does complete his journey to becoming a hero here (or at least seems to do so).  In "All-New Captain America," Sam struggled with Ian's willingness to kill (as he seemed to have done to Batroc), and Remender implies that the new Ian will have learned the value of taking the high road after his time on this HYDRA Earth.  I guess that we have to wait to see if he survived that lesson.

*** (three of five stars)

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