Since a certain something leaked, there’s been a fair bit of discussion of the final page reveal/image in Secret Empire’s Free Comic Book Day issue.
Bear in mind, from here on out, we will be discussing this particular thing, which may be considered a spoiler if you have somehow managed to avoid all discussion of it on twitter this past week.
HydraCap being able to wield Mjolnir is something of a troubling image, to be sure. Let’s face it, as much as Marvel want everyone to think Hydra aren’t Nazis, no one is buying it. So having a religious relic that has a mystical caveat of the bearer needing to be ‘Worthy’ to lift it, and whose image already is used by a number of racist, far-right and outright Nazi organisations, being lifted by an arguably Nazi fascist in a triumphant stance is not the best optics.
Nevermind the questionable notion of ‘does this mean a fascist can be worthy?’, the image is ripe for exploitation by far right movements, racist groups and yes, honest to god Nazis, who will like the image of a Captain America affiliated with their line of thinking wielding Mjolnir.
And after all, the German Nazis of World War II were big fans of all this Norse mythology stuff too.
But there is a common defence that seems to be brought up time and time again for how HydraCap can be holding the hammer: Captain America has wielded Mjolnir before.
This does seem to be ignoring of course that when he wielded it before, Cap thought he was FIGHTING Hydra and fascism and was not aware of his apparent secret history as a fascist plant. But now that he does and wants to wholesale enact fascism on USA soil, he can still hold the hammer…maybe Mjolnir can be tricked by Cosmic Cubes too, who knows.
But what it did bring to mind is one of the last times Steve Rogers was worthy of holding the hammer of Thor…during Fear Itself, by Matt Fraction and Stuart Immonen.
And he wielded it at a key moment to bring people together, not to split them apart. And he wielded it to fight Nazis.
Specifically, Sin, the daughter of the Red Skull and in Fear Itself gifted with godly (Norse, specifically) powers from another hammer she found. She then led a Nazi army to raise a long-exiled Asgardian God of Fear (Odin’s brother don’tcha know) and attack America.
In a moment when things looked most dire for his country, Captain America lifted Mjolnir to bring hope to his comrades and the American civilians in the area, and push back against the Nazi invasion force.
Captain America. Wielding the hammer of Thor. Fighting Nazis.
Fear Itself came out in 2011. In six years, we’ve now come to Secret Empire. How times change.