As hinted at in the first episode of this season of “Marvel’s Avengers: Ultron Revolution,” the Thunderbolts are coming. But first, there’s Baron Zemo. So strap yourselves in, from all indications, this is going to be great. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on “Saving Captain Rogers.”
There’s a quick namedrop of Crossbones in the first minute of this episode. Perhaps coincidence, perhaps not. It’s notable that Crossbones will be appearing in name and costume in Captain America: Civil War (he had also been in Winter Soldier but officially unidentified) and was responsible for the assassination of Cap at the close of Civil War in the comics.
Ironically, Captain America masqueraded as Crossbones when he and Iron Man tried infiltrate the Red Skull’s Cabal in “In Deep,” a first season episode of “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble.” It’s also ironic as this is the first of a four-part storyline featuring the Thunderbolts, and Crossbones was a member of a later iteration of that group. One wonders if he still might be…
We’re dropped into a flashback, and we know it’s a flashback because it’s mostly sepia tones and muted colors, but it just doesn’t seem like it. Captain America is with Bucky in 1944 (a ‘fact’ we know only because Bucky says it is) fighting the original Baron Zemo and the forces of Hydra. Apparently we’re picking up the “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” continuity where we fought Hydra in WWII as well as the Axis powers.
I was struck immediately by the similarity to the very first Avengers comic I ever read, issue #106, where our heroes were pitted against the Grim Reaper, the Space Phantom (who was back again for the first time since Avengers #2), and Madame Hydra. This was the first of three parts, the second and third of which I wouldn’t track down for decades. There too, Cap fought a battle with Hydra in flashback, alongside Rick Jones as Bucky, that had never happened.
Blast from the Past
The faux flashback is framed by wonderful Easter eggs like a photo of Agent Peggy Carter and a mention of the Howling Commandos, and you’ve got to hand it to Cap, despite being unsure and confused he jumps right into the fray against Zemo and Hydra. I do sorta wish Bucky was wearing a mask… and younger. I’m still not used to Bucky being Cap’s equal as opposed to his kid sidekick. I’m not opposed to it, just not used to it.
As Cap and Bucky make their assault on Zemo’s castle headquarters, was I the only one reminded of Greymoor Castle? I know it’s more likely based on the castle in the first Captain America film, but still. As they move forward Cap experiences a weird déjà vu as if this had happened before just not as it had originally. Speaking of Greymoor, these ‘flashbacks’ really made me wish for a Captain America cartoon, just like this.
Outside of the sepia fantasy, Iron Man and the Black Widow have been tracking Captain America. He is in a European castle but the rest is an illusion and mind control. He thinks he fighting Hydra, but in reality it’s Iron Man and the Widow. It’s then that it all comes together. Helmut Zemo, son of the Hydra/Nazi scientist Baron Heinrich Zemo, has hypnotized Cap.
The last person in the elder Zemo’s secret lab was Cap so Helmut needed him to retrace his steps so he could find his father’s approximation of the super-soldier formula. Once rejuvenated, Zemo junior takes on Iron Man and the Black Widow while Captain America remains trapped in his own mind.
I have to give serious props to the writer of this episode Mairghread Scott as she in the space of just over twenty minutes take Baron Helmut Zemo from rookie bad guy to serious threat able to take on three Avengers easily. I really dig this episode, great stuff, especially with a feature role from the Black Widow, the fact that déjà vu Bucky saves Cap from the mind control, and I loved the Ant-Man cameo at the end. I can’t wait for more.