-- After more than a year fighting for Hydra, the Captain America comic book fans know and love is back.
In "Secret Empire" issue 10, out this week, Captain America was forced to face his classic self, and in a showdown of good versus evil, good prevailed hands down.
The details of how this happened are tricky and involve a Cosmic Cube that can bend reality, but the old Steve Rogers defeated the altered Hydra leader, who had turned his back on his allies and killed heroes and innocent people in his quest for ultimate power.
The climax ended a 10-issue run that saw the landscape of Marvel completely change, with its most cherished hero taking a huge turn. Fans were not happy at the onset, but have since come around.
The writer of the series, Nick Spencer, tweeted a thank you to those who raved about the conclusion.
"One last thank you for the day - there have been so many amazing people who have championed, recommended, and defended this story online," he wrote. "And as a writer, whenever you see positive discussion/analysis of your work, it's one of the best things you can ever experience. Thank you!"
And after this epilogue, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso said the Universe will not be the same.
Alonso and Spencer stopped by ABC News' "Inside Marvel" to talk about the landscape change and where we go from here.
Here's the breakdown:
Sam Wilson - Captain America
Wilson stepped up big time in "Empire" and picked up the mantle of Captain America, leading the troops against Rogers, the former hero.
Spencer said this was just as much Wilson's story as it was Rogers'. His heroics here in these 10 issues should catapult him to A-list status, so to speak.
"This has really been about his big moment as Captain America," Spencer said of Wilson, who also took over the mantle of Captain a few years back after Rogers was yet again unable to be the iconic hero. "In the course of Sam Wilson, Captain America, we just put that character through so much on his side. The fact is that so many people in the Marvel Universe have refused to accept him as Captain America."
Spencer said this was his "hero's journey" and we'll definitely be seeing more of this leader moving forward.
"To be the one to turn the tide, he really is the hero of this story," he said. "This was about giving Sam a huge win as Captain America."
Spencer said the "Generations" issue coming out later this year will have big Sam Wilson developments and "something really important happens to Sam that really changes his perspective on things."
Steve Rogers - Captain America
Spencer pitched the story of Cap turning to Hydra more than two years ago, Alonso said. At the time, it was just supposed to be a Captain America tale. But Alonso and others decided to have it delve into the entire Marvel Universe.
"We've known where we were gonna land for some while," Alonso said. "We've sailed through a storm and we are happy to land, I don't think any of us knew that we'd be unveiling this two-page spread of Steve Rogers back in the red, white and blue clobbering his fascist counterpart [in this conclusion]."
Both Spencer and Alonso said with classic Cap back, that doesn't erase what his evil, altered self did and he will have to slowly win back the support of the other heroes.
"I wanted this story as comprehensibly as possible to remind folks what makes Steve Rogers so great and Captain America so important," Spencer said. "Showing how he never gives up in the face of adversity. Showing how he stands up for what he believes in."
"Captain America is one of the oldest and easily one of the most trusted superheroes in the Marvel Universe," Alonso added, noting that this type of story couldn't be told about anyone else. "He's supposed to stand for everything that's good in America and he has."
But the altered, evil Cap took those same ideals and bought into fascism and into Hydra. He actually believed he was creating a better world.
"This wasn't Captain America twisting his mustache, contemplating his own financial gain," Alonso said.
Spencer said he was reminded how much "this character means to people" when he and Marvel decided to go through with the twist.
"Because of the things we did with the Hail Hydra reveal ... you hear from a lot of folks that are obviously upset. They are scared and worried about this character," he said. "They tell you their stories and why this character means so much to them."
Alonso said he never wavered in his support for Spencer, the team, the idea and its positive outcome.
"I hope everybody can step back and look at this as a full body of work," Alonso said. "This is the story people, what do you think of this story? ... I think [the story is] gonna hold up decades from now."
Alonso said Rogers now has "some soul searching to do" to gain back the trust of his allies.
Thor, Punisher and others who also went Hydra
Outside of Cap, Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson -- the trio of best friends -- who have all taken up the mantle of Captain America in his illustrious history, you have the Hydra Cap followers who will have to atone for why they followed a fascist over democracy in this series.
Thor followed him because Cap could wield his Hammer, which meant he was worthy. We later find out that was a trick and that only the classic Cap WAS really worthy, using the hammer to best his evil alter-ego.
Spencer said issue 10 "emphatically" expressed which side was right, that the heroes had won and Thor will also have some repenting to do moving forward.
"I felt like we needed that contest of values," Spencer said about adding in the iconic Marvel weapon and what the hammer means to fans. "We needed to see these two ideologies face off ... Thor was certainly working under duress and had his reasons ... but [following Hydra] is certainly going to be a major source of regret and pain for him."
He was more tight-lipped about Punisher, who also followed Cap. He pointed to "Omega" as the answer to his future.
The same can be said for the evil Captain America, who just doesn't go away. He was seen face down, laying on the floor after being beaten by the classic Steve Rogers.
"Omega," is all Spencer said when asked about his fate.
With "Generations" happening, fans are able to see classic characters like Logan team up with X-23, the new Wolverine in one-shot stories.
You also saw Bruce Banner, who died in "Civil War 2," come back for a short stint.
Some of these stories are already out, with more coming later this year. Alonso said they come from the third act of "Secret Empire," using the cube and the device in this story to team up. The "Vanishing Point," as it's called, will also allow for characters to meet in different time periods.
Will all of these characters come back?
"Stay tuned," Alonso said, adding that the series will bring "clues to where those characters' hearts are and what roads they are gonna travel in the future ... Is the world big enough for both Bruce Banner and Amadeus Cho? How do Sam Wilson and Steve Rogers co-exist."
Spencer chimed in, "We wanted to make sure there wasn't a reset button that was hit at the end of this. That there were real and lasting repercussions of ['Empire']."
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