Hydra (comics)

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Hydra symbol.png
Symbol of Hydra, as shown on Captain America: Steve Rogers #19 (July 2017)
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceStrange Tales #135 (Aug 1965)
Created byStan Lee (writer)
Jack Kirby (artist)
In-story information
Baron Strucker
Red Skull
Employee(s)Current members:
Baron Helmut Zemo[1]
Arnim Zola
Former members:
Werner von Strucker
Bob, Agent of Hydra

Hydra is a fictional terrorist organization appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The name "Hydra" is an allusion to the mythical Lernaean Hydra;[2] the organization's motto references the myth of the Hydra, stating that "If a head is cut off, two more shall take its place", proclaiming their resilience and growing strength in the face of resistance. Hydra agents often wear distinctive green garb featuring a serpent motif.

Hydra has appeared in various media adaptations of television shows and films set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Publication history[edit]

Hydra agents

Hydra first appeared in Strange Tales #135 (August 1965). In its original continuity, it was headed by nondescript businessman Arnold Brown, who was killed as S.H.I.E.L.D. apparently crushed the organization. Hydra soon returned, however, headed by Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, with the support of the Nazi Red Skull; Hydra's changing origin was one of Marvel's earliest retcons. After its initial defeat, several of its branches, such as its scientific branch A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics) and the Secret Empire, became independent.

Crypt of Shadows #3, published in 1973, reprinted a story from Menace #10 (1954), but with a change to a line of dialogue that erroneously implied that Hydra was first mentioned in the 1954 issue. In the reprint, an agent of an unspecified enemy government was changed to identify himself as working for Hydra when he paid off a scientist named Dr. Nostrum for information about a cobalt bomb that turned people into monsters. Dr. Nostrum shot all the other scientists on his team after they were turned into monsters, then shot himself after his son put an image from a monster magazine on his mirror.


"Hail, Hydra! Immortal Hydra! We shall never be destroyed! Cut off a limb, and two more shall take its place! We serve none but the Master—as the world shall soon serve us! Hail Hydra!"

—The Hydra Oath from Strange Tales #135 (Aug. 1965)

Before the evolution of mankind, a cabal of immortal hooded reptoids came to Earth, planning to start a legacy of evil.[3] Millions of years later, they corrupted an Asian secret society of geniuses known as the Brotherhood of the Spear, which resulted in that group being called "the Beast" by the Brotherhood of the Shield;[4] the corrupted Brotherhood of the Spear spread out, ingraining itself like a multi-headed serpent into all facets of human society, from science to magic and politics. As time wore on, the organization's name changed and it included the Cathari sect as well as the Thule Society;[5] the Nazi sub group, funded by the Thule Society, was brought into the main Hydra fold after the end of World War II.[6]

One of the Nazi members, Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, quickly seized control of the Hydra organization and restructured it to be dedicated to world domination through terrorist and subversive activities on various fronts, resulting in a global neo-fascist New Order. To this end, Baron von Strucker used his personal fortune, based on his recovered hoard of Nazi plunder from World War II, and funds established by the original leaders of the Japanese secret society that became part of the old Hydra.[6] However, after von Strucker's first death, Hydra broke into factions (such as A.I.M., Secret Empire, Them, etc.) that each adopted its own reorganized modus operandi.[6] Eventually, this fragmentation would lead to a Hydra civil war, even after von Strucker's resurrection.

According to the files discovered by Nick Fury, Hydra is split into four independent sectors:

  • International Corporations (Fronts created using a legitimate business to conceal illicit activities)
  • Government Assets (Individuals within the chain of command. Long-term resources that benefit from the minimal turnover inherent in bureaucracies)
  • Global Criminal Groups (Subsidiary organizations created for short-term goals. Also used to deflect unwanted interest from the global law enforcement community)
  • Intelligence Gathering (S.H.I.E.L.D. and all their underlying resources)[6] Hydra regards S.H.I.E.L.D. as their "most valuable proactive intelligence asset" while its government assets include the US Department of Treasury, the FBI, and the NSA as well as the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the GRU and SVR of Russia.[6]

Nick Fury theorized that his previous successes against Hydra were either feints to make him believe that he was making headway against the group or manipulation by Hydra to eliminate any possible competition or possible rogue sub-organizations.[7]

In the aftermath of the Secret Invasion and Baron von Strucker's second death, there followed a series of power struggles which eventually left Hydra without a formal leader;[8] the splintering of Hydra accelerated, with various cells operating seemingly independently.[9][10][11] Eventually, the Red Skull, returning to his Nazi beliefs, started building a new Hydra from the ground up. However, this brought him into conflict with Baron Zemo, who was trying to control what was left of the old Hydra.[12][13]

The Red Skull convinced his now aware Cosmic Cube, Kobik, to cooperate with S.H.I.E.L.D. in creating Pleasant Hill and discovered that Kobik could alter people's memories to make them believe they had been members of the Hydra of which the Red Skull had told them stories.[14] However, the Red Skull failed to realize that the Hydra he was building and the Hydra Kobik had created false memories of were two different things, with the now Hydra Captain America disobeying the Red Skull and planning something else.[13]


Hydra's level of technology is as highly advanced as that of any on Earth, based in part on technology of the alien Gnobians discovered by Baron von Strucker in 1944. Hydra uses various advanced experimental vehicles and devices in its activities, and various conventional military vehicles, seacraft, aircraft, pistols and standard concussive force blasters, and conventional communications equipment.

Hydra personnel are issued cowled jumpsuits, which have included a number of designs over the years. Originally, the jumpsuits were green with a yellow H design, and later incorporated a red and brown color scheme, but in time were changed back to green with a serpent motif.

Fictional organization history[edit]

Hydra's history as depicted in Marvel Universe continuity is a long, tumultuous and convoluted one, spanning millennia, and going back to the Third Dynasty of Egypt, with all references to the ancient group disappearing around the Renaissance;[6] the modern incarnation of Hydra was originated when the Nazi spymaster known as the Red Skull took control of an Asian secret society, the Brotherhood of the Spear, merging it with a German occult organization, the Thule Society.

Some time before 1943, the Red Skull started creating a Hydra cell in Japan, merging several underground Japanese secret societies, including a faction of The Hand, with several fugitive members of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, to become the modern Hydra;[6] this incarnation of Hydra operated in Japan, directed by a Japanese militarist called the Supreme Hydra, and in Germany, under the control of the Red Skull and Arnim Zola. However, after joining Hydra, Baron Wolfgang von Strucker seized control of the organization and constructed the Hydra base, Tsunami - called Hydra Island;[6] the original Hydra Island was invaded by the Leatherneck Raiders and the Japanese Samurai Squad, and the base was destroyed.[15] Strucker then slowly steered the organization towards the goal of world domination; that campaign brought him into conflict with Charles Xavier and the future Magneto, among others, and once Hydra became more brazenly public in its operations, eventually led to the creation of the original agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., specifically to counter Hydra's threat to world security. After Hydra apparently assassinated S.H.I.E.L.D.'s first executive director, Col. Rick Stoner, Nick Fury was appointed as executive director. Hydra agents attempted to assassinate Nick Fury before his appointment as S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Director, but failed.[16]

After several failed Hydra campaigns, including the failure of the world blackmail attempt using the Betatron Bomb, the creation of the Overkill Horn (designed to detonate all nuclear explosives worldwide), and the bio-engineered "Death-Spore" Bomb, which led directly to von Strucker's first death at the hands of Fury, and several deceived Hydra operatives. In the wake of von Strucker's first death, the surviving elements of Hydra broke into factions that each adopted its own reorganized modus operandi. Several of these factions developed "super-agents" that would occasionally break away in turn to become freelance operatives, or, in some rarer cases, superheroes such as the first Spider-Woman. During this era, Hydra's collective threat was mitigated by not only occasionally infighting among themselves, but their operating policy of punishing failure with death, often led to their killing of each other more often than their intended victims. Hydra frequently found itself defeated by S.H.I.E.L.D., various superheroes, and even unpowered civilians, like the motorcycle racing team, Team America. Von Strucker was eventually revived, and he reunited several of the Hydra factions under his leadership,renewing his campaign against S.H.I.E.L.D. and humanity for several more years.

Despite his reorganization of the group, various independent Hydra factions continued to operate around the Marvel Universe, and a Hydra Civil War would later result. While Baron Helmut Zemo had von Strucker placed in stasis for his own ends, Gorgon and von Strucker's second wife, Elsbeth von Strucker, mystically created a clone of von Strucker, whom they set up to fail, allowing for a public execution of him, after which, as part of an alliance with The Hand, they utilized an army of brainwashed superheroes and supervillains, including Northstar and Elektra, to launch a massive assault on S.H.I.E.L.D; the assault was ultimately repelled, and Wolverine would go on to kill Gorgon.

Hydra later planned an all-out attack on the United States by smuggling missiles into New York for use in a planned bio-weapon assault on the Ogallala Aquifer, they formed a distraction through using a team that had the duplicated powers of several Avengers, (Iron Man and Captain America, and former Avengers Thor and Hawkeye), but were inevitably foiled by Spider-Man and the other New Avengers.

When Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew) was captured by S.H.I.E.L.D. during the events of Civil War, Hydra stormed the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier and freed her. Spider-Woman, a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and member of the Avengers, had been working undercover for Hydra under the orders of Nick Fury, now deposed as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. following the events of Secret War, to whom she was still loyal. Hydra revealed that they knew of her betrayal, and wanted her to replace Viper as their current leader, as she was unstable. Spider-Woman refused their offer, destroying in an explosion the Hydra base to which she had been taken.

As Spider-Woman revealed her true identity as Queen Veranke of the Skrull Empire, Hydra was left with a void in his control organization, which was then filled by Congressman Woodman. Under his rule, the young Hardball, empowered by the Power Broker, is appointed as a double agent, acting both as an Initiative recruit and as a Hydra spy, with the role of gathering information about the Initiative and doing errands for Hydra, in exchange for secrecy, and the expensive health care needed by his brother, a former UCWF wrestler, who was crippled in the ring.

Hardball, however, deeply hurt and shamed by the compromises Woodman forced him to endure, and Komodo's attempt to bail him out of Hydra by telling his secrets to his field leader Gravity, mercilessly kills Congressman Woodman in front of his subordinates, his ersatz coup d'état pays off, and Hardball is appointed as the new Supreme Leader of the organization, severing every tie with his former life.[17] His joining Hydra, however, was revealed to be caused simply by his having nowhere else to go, he surrenders to the Shadow Initiative, and is sent to the Negative Zone prison, destroying his Hydra cell.[18]

After the events of Secret Invasion, Nick Fury discovered that S.H.I.E.L.D. was under the control of Hydra, and apparently had been from the beginning. He also discovered a number of organizations under Hydra's alleged control including the United States' FBI Science and Technology Branch, NSA, and US Department of Treasury, along with the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate and Foreign Intelligence Service, and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.[6]

Meanwhile, after having destroyed Hydra's undersea headquarters, Ichor, due to its having been infiltrated by the Skrull invasion force, Von Strucker rebuilt Hydra from the ground up, and after his discovery that Fury had learned the truth, reconvened the other main heads of Hydra: Viper, Madame Hydra, Kraken, and The Hive, as well as resurrecting The Gorgon for the purpose of showing Hydra's "True self" to the world.[7]

Hydra (alongside A.I.M.) later appeared in an alliance with H.A.M.M.E.R.[19] Following the defeat of Norman Osborn, H.A.M.M.E.R. was disbanded, with Madame Hydra using the remaining members to reinforce Hydra.[20]

After the existence of Pleasant Hill, a top-secret community where Maria Hill incarcerated various supervillains, after brainwashing them to believe they were regular civilians via a sentient Cosmic Cube named Kobik, was exposed and subsequently shut down, Red Skull's clone used the subsequent backlash in the intelligence community to assemble a new version of Hydra, starting with Sin and Crossbones.[21] Although his efforts were still focused on rebuilding the organization, he had already scored a significant victory, after the sentient Cosmic Cube, having been 'raised' by the Red Skull, in the form of a little girl, to see Hydra as a great organization, altered Steve Rogers' memories so that he believed he had been a Hydra sleeper agent since childhood.[14]

During the "Secret Empire" storyline, Hydra's plans came to fruition, as the mind-altered Steve Rogers used the Planetary Defense Shield to trap those who were fighting the Chitauri, stranding them beyond the Shield, and having Baron Zemo use the Darkhold to enhance Blackout's powers to entrap all of Manhattan within the Darkforce following the fight between the superheroes there and Baron Zemo's Army of Evil.[22] Having taken political and military control of the United States, Hydra proceeded to round up and incarcerate all Inhumans, and all mutants were condemned to the western California territory of New Tian. Becoming the Hydra Supreme, Captain America formed Hydra's version of the Avengers, consisting of Scarlet Witch who is possessed by Chthon, Vision who was suffering from an A.I. Virus created by Arnim Zola, Odinson, Taskmaster, Deadpool, Eric O'Grady's Life Model Decoy counterpart Black Ant, and Doctor Octopus' Superior Octopus form. Throughout this period, Hydra encountered resistance from the Underground.[23] Sam Wilson, the original Falcon, and currently the All-New Captain America, brought hope to the resistance with a plan to bring their real Captain America back, by using the remaining Cosmic Cube, under Scott Lang and Winter Soldier's hand on Hydra Supreme's Cosmic Cube-infused Hydra suit; as Hydra began to fall, most of Hydra's Avengers members, Odinson, Taskmaster, and Black Ant, began to betray Hydra, joining the resistance, while Vision and Scarlet Witch were freed from the villains' control.[24] Deadpool came to regret his betrayal of his friends, having killed Phil Coulson and Emily Preston and having lied to Emily's family with Maria Hill having given him a painful lesson.[25] Kobik returns the real Captain America, with his memories intact, and with Hydra Supreme defeated, Hydra's reign over the United States comes to an end, with major casualties being Rick Jones, Phil Coulson, and Black Widow, who have been killed.[26] Hydra Supreme was imprisoned in the Shadow Pillar as he is visited by Captain America to bring up the fact that he will stand trial for his crimes. After leaving, Hydra Supreme is chained up as one of the guards whispers "Hail Hydra" into his ear.[27]

Due to Hydra Supreme's imprisonment, Baron Zemo had to keep Hydra active, he planned to spring Hydra Supreme from the Shadow Pillar only to meet opposition from Punisher in the War Machine Armor. After the attempted jailbreak was thwarted, Hydra Supreme was apprehended while Baron Zemo got away.[28]

During the "Spider-Geddon" storyline, Arnim Zola led a bio-duplicate of Gorgon and some Hydra agents to Superior Octopus' lair where Arnim Zola tried to get Superior Octopus to help rebuild Hydra. Superior Octopus turned him down stating that he has upheld his bargain to Hydra as Arnim Zola claims that one does not leave Hydra until their death. After defeating the Hydra Agents, the bio-duplicate of Gorgon, and Arnim Zola, Superior Octopus has Arnim Zola spread the word to Hydra to never come after him again.[29]


Other versions[edit]

Amalgam Comics[edit]

Another version of Hydra has appeared in Amalgam Comics, they are very similar to the normal Hydra and wear the same green and yellow outfits, but with black eyes instead of red. They first appear in Super-Soldier #1 and are led by Lex Luthor (later known as Green Skull).


Another alternate version of Hydra appears throughout Exiles #91-94, where they are well underway with their plan to take over the world; this version is being led by Madame Hydra (Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman in the regular Marvel universe) and her lover, Wolverine. Various other superhumans, including Captain America (now Captain Hydra) and Slaymaster, are agents of Hydra in this world.[30]

Secret Wars (2015)[edit]

During the Secret Wars storyline, there were different variations of Hydra that reside on Battleworld:

  • One version of Hydra rules the Battleworld domain of the Hydra Empire which is based on the remnants of Earth-85826. The members of Hydra consist of Arnim Zola, Grant Ward, Dum Dum Dugan, Nick Fury Jr., and Toad. In addition to female assassins possessed by Hydra's version of the Symbiotes called Vipers, Hydra also has its version of the Avengers consisting of Captain Hydra (Leopold Zola), Chancellor Cassandra, Doctor Mindbubble, Iron Baron (Baron Strucker), Lord Drain, and Venom.[31]
  • Another version of Hydra resides in the Battleworld domain called the Walled City of New York which is based on the remnants of Earth-21722. The members of Hydra are Arnim Zola, Baron Strucker, Baron Heinrich Zemo, Hank Johnson, MODOK, Red Skull, and Viper. Hydra controls one section of the Walled City of New York in opposition to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s section.[32]

Ultimate Marvel[edit]

The Ultimate Marvel version of Hydra appears when Spider-Man was presumed dead following the events of the Ultimatum storyline. J. Jonah Jameson recalled the time when Spider-Man saved Tony Stark from an attack by Hydra, led by Viper.[33]

In more recent Ultimate titles, Hydra has been described as an "anti-government" organization (though their political philosophy is left deliberately vague). Modi (Thor's son) is seen in allegiance with them, and acquiring weapons from Project Pegasus, including Modi using the Mind Gem on Director Flumm (to attempt to kill the U.S. President), and Giant-Woman attacking Spider-Man (until stopped by his "venom-strike").[34] They are defeated by both S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Ultimates although some members escaped.[35]

Nick Fury later masqueraded as Scorpio and infiltrated Hydra and came across Abigail Brand, a Hydra soldier who captures and brings Fury to Commander Crimson.[36] Commander Crimson later sends Brand to the Death's Head Camp along with Fury until rescued. S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Monica Chang grants Fury permission to re-form the Howling Commandos to stop Hydra.[37]

In other media[edit]



Video games[edit]

  • Hydra appears in X-Men: The Official Game. In the game, Hydra is partially responsible for the creation of the Master Mold and Sentinel robots alongside William Stryker. Under orders of their leader Silver Samurai, Hydra infiltrates Stryker's base to remove all evidence and Sentinel equipment, and by accident, activated the Master Mold.[citation needed]
  • Hydra is the major villain in the rare Sega 32X video game titled Spider-Man: Web of Fire.[citation needed]
  • In Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, one of the levels includes an old Hydra base that the Anti-Registration group was using.[citation needed]
  • Hydra's aerial base can be seen attacking the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier in the latter's stage in Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds.[citation needed] The organization's logo can also be seen on the car that attempts to run She-Hulk down in one of her special moves.
  • Hydra appears as the central antagonists in the video game Captain America: Super Soldier.[citation needed]
  • Hydra is featured in Marvel: Avengers Alliance. Known members include Baron Helmut Zemo, Moonstone, Viper, and the Hydra Four. Hydra's Power Armors appear as bosses and were created from stolen Stark Industries technology, their foot soldiers consist of Hydra Ballistas, Hydra Burners, Hydra Cannons, Hydra Judicators, Hydra Officers, Hydra Pyros, Hydra Soldiers, and Hydra Vanguards.
  • Hydra is featured in Avengers Initiative, with its members serving as enemies in the Captain America chapters of the game.[44]
  • Hydra appears in Marvel Heroes.[citation needed]
  • Hydra Agents appear in Lego Marvel Super Heroes.[citation needed]
  • Hydra appears in Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2.[45] Known members include Red Skull, Baron Zemo, Arnim Zola, the Hydra Supreme version of Captain America, and the Hydra Four. One section of Chronopolis is the Hydra Empire which was taken from a reality in which Hydra won World War II and ruled the world. Captain America, Black Panther, and Star-Lord follow Klaw and Hydra Four members Bowman and Tactician to the Hydra Empire following the Vibranium heist in Wakanda. In addition to fighting Klaw, Captain America, Black Panther, and Star-Lord had to fight the Vibranium Troopers and Baron Zemo in his biplane. A bonus mission narrated by Gwenpool that took place in the Hydra Empire had Morbius the Living Vampire, Man-Thing, and N'Kantu the Living Mummy building a float for the Red Skull Honorary Parade in Hydra Square.

Live performance[edit]

See also[edit]

  • SS-Totenkopfverbände – A real-life organization in Nazi Germany responsible for running the concentration camps and death camps. This group also used a skull in its insignia.


  1. ^ "A Marvel Editor Explains How Captain America Was a Hydra Agent All Along". TIME. May 25, 2016. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
  2. ^ Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe HC entry for Hydra
  3. ^ Wolverine vol. 3 #29
  4. ^ S.H.I.E.L.D. #4
  5. ^ Fear Itself: Book of the Skull #1
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Secret Warriors #1
  7. ^ a b Secret Warriors #2
  8. ^ All-New Captain America #4
  9. ^ Ms. Marvel Vol. 4 #1
  10. ^ Free Comic Book Day Vol 2015 #Avengers
  11. ^ Deadpool Vol. 4 #7
  12. ^ Avengers: Standoff at Pleasant Hill Omega
  13. ^ a b Captain America: Steve Rogers #3
  14. ^ a b Captain America: Steve Rogers #2
  15. ^ Captain Savage and his Leatherneck Raiders #2-4
  16. ^ Strange Tales (vol. 1) #135
  17. ^ Avengers: The Initiative Special #1
  18. ^ Avengers: The Initiative #24
  19. ^ New Avengers Vol. 2 #18
  20. ^ Avengers Vol. 4 #24
  21. ^ Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill Omega #1
  22. ^ Secret Empire #0. Marvel Comics.
  23. ^ Secret Empire #1. Marvel Comics.
  24. ^ Secret Empire #9. Marvel Comics.
  25. ^ Deadpool Vol. 4 #35. Marvel Comics.
  26. ^ Secret Empire #10. Marvel Comics.
  27. ^ Secret Empire Omega #1. Marvel Comics.
  28. ^ Punisher #227-228. Marvel Comics.
  29. ^ Superior Octopus #1. Marvel Comics.
  30. ^ Exiles #92
  31. ^ Hail Hydra #1
  32. ^ Hank Johnson, Agent of Hydra #1
  33. ^ Ultimate Requiem: Spider-Man #1
  34. ^ Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #16
  35. ^ Ultimate Comics: Ultimates #18
  36. ^ Ultimate Comics: Ultimates #20
  37. ^ Ultimate Comics: Ultimates #21
  38. ^ Medinnus, David (January 1, 2011). "An Interview With Christopher Yost". Retrieved April 1, 2011.
  39. ^ "Marvel's Spider-Man & the Avengers Will Return with All-New Seasons to Disney XD". June 1, 2015.
  40. ^ "Spider-Island: Part 2". Spider-Man. Season 1. Episode 20. February 4, 2018. Disney XD.
  41. ^ "Twitter / Marvel: Watch an exclusive clip from Marvel's "Iron Man & Captain America"". Twitter.com. December 3, 2013. Retrieved August 15, 2014.
  42. ^ "Red Skull's Escape Vehicles (2011)". MonsterMinions. July 22, 2011. Retrieved August 1, 2011.
  43. ^ Maksel, Rebecca (August 9, 2011). "Captain America and the Horten Brothers". Air & Space/Smithsonian. National Air and Space Museum - Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
  44. ^ Aldrin Calimlim (December 13, 2012). "Thumbs Up, Soldier! Captain America Enters The Avengers Initiative". AppAdvice. Retrieved August 15, 2014.
  45. ^ "Hydra Hijinks". IGN Database. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  46. ^ "Character Reveals for Marvel Universe LIVE! | News". Marvel.com. Retrieved August 15, 2014.

External links[edit]