If you've been following the long saga of Steve Rogers, you'll know that this year he returned to superpowered heroism as the current second Captain America. You'll also know that he came back with some... intriguing quirks, like, for example, being a secret brainwashed Hydra agent. That would be bad enough, but now he's become a loopy supervillain, and it's amazing.
Over the past few issues of Steve Rogers, Captain America -- by Nick Spencer, Jesús Saiz and Joe Caramagna -- Steve has been plotting a takeover of the resurgent Hydra from under the control of the Red Skull. It's involved the sort of double-crosses and twists and "wait, wasn't that guy dead?" moments of subterfuge you'd expect from a sinister backstabbing plot involving an organisation like Hydra, even if your protagonist is a cosmic-cube-brainwashed version of America's most beloved and patriotic superhero.
But this week's Steve Rogers, Captain America #8 leaves much of the Hydra-based secret shenanigans behind, as Steve finds himself on the front lines of defending Earth from a surprise Chitauri invasion alongside Captain Marvel and Maria Hill. The waves of Chitauri soldiers have been heading towards Earth on a more frequent schedule recently, much to the confusion of Carol and her Alpha Flight, tasked with safeguarding the Earth from cosmic threats. While Steven and Maria are in orbit with her, they discover another wave of aliens is on its way, bigger than anything that has tried to hit them before:
Things look very bad for our heroes until Avril Kincaid, the new incarnation of Quasar introduced earlier this year during the Standoff miniseries, shows up out of nowhere and uses her burgeoning new powers to turn the entire horde of Chitauri into cosmic space bits. You'd think everyone would be pleased that they and the rest of Earth didn't just get turned into Chitauri kibble, but out of nowhere, Steve is pissed at Avril's unannounced act of heroism.
He lays into Carol and Maria, enraged because he thinks that they called Avril into action, despite Steve's own express request that she be kept from being put on duty before she's completed her training with the former Quasar, Wendell Vaughn. He even gets some good digs into Carol for the outcome of Civil War II while he's at it, before storming off in a huff back to his secret Hydra Lab of Evil Machinations (I'm sure that's its real name, probably).
But why is Steve so angry that Avril saved all their butts, and the entire planet while she was at it? I mean, being Hydra doesn't mean you actually want the entire Earth to be invaded by aliens that would come and eradicate the humans you want to rule over, right? It turns out Steve's plans have gotten way more ridiculously villainous than simply taking over Hydra.
He's the one responsible for trying to get the Chitauri to invade the Earth. By luring them to Earth by secretly hiring a farmer in Montana to hatch a Chitauri Queen.
Steve's anger comes from the fact that there's now someone capable of stopping his plan of bringing the Chitauri to Earth to cull the human population.
This is way, way beyond the bad guy turn we've been seeing from Steve Rogers since this series started. Even if we know his heel-turn was due to some cosmic cube-altering shenanigans from Kobik, this is just amazingly, almost hilariously evil. When this twist was first revealed, I said that I was in for the long run just to see what Spencer and Saiz did with an evil Captain America. "Captain America secretly planning a giant alien invasion of Earth for shits and giggles" is absolutely not where I expected it to go, and I kind of love it for going there anyway.