Hydra (comics)

This article is about the fictional terrorist organization. For other uses, see Hydra (disambiguation).

Hydra agents
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Strange Tales #135 (Aug/ 1965)
Created by Stan Lee (writer)
Jack Kirby (artist)
In-story information
Base(s) Various
Owner(s) Currently:
Baron Strucker
Red Skull
Employee(s) Current members:
Baron Helmut Zemo[1]
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 a reference 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 will 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.

Publication history

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 neo-fascist New World Order. To this end, Baron 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 Strucker's first death, Hydra broke into factions (such as AIM, 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 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), and 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, FBI, and 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 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.[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

Hydra's history as depicted in Marvel Universe continuity is a long, tumultuous and convoluted one, spanning millennia ago to the Third Dynasty of Egypt, with all references to the ancient group disappearing around the Renaissance.[6] Surviving fugitive members of the governments of Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan (including the The Hand) are recruited to become the modern incarnation of Hydra.[6]

A cabal of Japanese ultranationalists planned to use Hydra to overthrow the Japanese liberal democratic government, assassinate the prime minister, and install a neo-militarist government, which would re-arm Japan. However, after joining Hydra, Baron Wolfgang von Strucker seizes control of the organization and constructs 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 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, 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]

This decision, after several 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, 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, their collective threat was mitigated by not only occasionally fighting among themselves, but their operating policy of punishing failure with death often meant they were killing each other more often than their intended victims after their frequent defeats by SHIELD, superheroes and even civilians like the motorcycle racing team, Team America. Von Strucker was eventually revived and reunited several of the Hydra factions under his leadership to renew 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 continue to operate around the Marvel Universe, and a Hydra Civil War would later result. While Baron Helmut Zemo had Strucker placed in stasis for his own ends, Gorgon and Strucker's second wife Elsbeth von Strucker mystically created a clone of Strucker who 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 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, 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 for Hydra under the orders of Nick Fury, deposed as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. following the events of Secret War, whom she was still loyal to. Hydra revealed that they knew of her betrayal and wanted her to replace Viper as their current leader, for she was unstable. Spider-Woman refused their offer, destroying the Hydra base she had been taken to in an explosion.

As Spider-Woman revealed her true identity as Queen Veranke of the Skrull Empire, Hydra was left with a void in his control organization, 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 of secrecy and the expensive health care needed by his brother, a former UCWF wrestler who was crippled on the ring.

Hardball however, deeply hurt and shamed by the compromises Woodman forces 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 simply be caused 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 discovers that S.H.I.E.L.D. was under the control of Hydra, and apparently had been from the beginning. He also discovers a number of organizations under Hydra's alleged control including the United States' FBI Science and Technology Branch, NSA and US Department of Treasury, as well as the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate and Foreign Intelligence Service and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.[6]

Meanwhile, after having to destroy Hydra's undersea headquarters, Ichor - it had been infiltrated by the Skrull invasion force - Von Strucker decides to rebuild Hydra from the ground up, and after learning that Fury has learned the truth, reconvenes 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 appears in an alliance with H.A.M.M.E.R..[19] Following the defeat of Norman Osborn, H.A.M.M.E.R. ends up disbanding with Madame Hydra using the remaining members to reinforce Hydra.[20]

After the existence of Pleasant Hill - a community where Maria Hill kept various supervillains after brainwashing them to believe they were regular civilians via a sentient Cosmic Cube - was exposed and 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 are still focused on rebuilding the organization, he has already scored a significant victory after the sentient Cosmic Cube - having been 'raised' by the Red Skull to see Hydra as a great organization - alters Steve Rogers' memories so that he believes he has been a Hydra sleeper agent since childhood.[14]


Main article: List of Hydra members

Other versions

Ultimate Marvel

The Ultimate Marvel version of Hydra can be also be seen.

At the time 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.[22]

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).[23] They are defeated by both S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Ultimates although some members escaped.[24]

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. 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.[25]


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.[26]

Amalgam Comics

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 not red. They first appear in Super-Soldier #1 and are led by Lex Luthor (later known as Green Skull).

In other media



Video games

Live performance


  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. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Secret Warriors #1
  7. 1 2 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. 1 2 Captain America: Steve Rogers #3
  14. 1 2 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. Ultimate Requiem: Spider-Man #1
  23. Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #16
  24. Ultimate Comics: Ultimates #18
  25. Ultimate Comics: Ultimates #21
  26. Exiles #92
  27. Medinnus, David (January 1, 2011). "An Interview With Christopher Yost". Retrieved April 1, 2011.
  28. "Marvel's Spider-Man & the Avengers Will Return with All-New Seasons to Disney XD". Jun 1, 2015.
  29. "Twitter / Marvel: Watch an exclusive clip from Marvel's "Iron Man & Captain America"". Twitter.com. December 3, 2013. Retrieved August 15, 2014.
  30. "Red Skull's Escape Vehicles (2011)". MonsterMinions. July 22, 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-01.
  31. Maksel, Rebecca (August 9, 2011). "Captain America and the Horten Brothers". Air & Space/Smithsonian. National Air and Space Museum - Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2011-08-15.
  32. Aldrin Calimlim (December 13, 2012). "Thumbs Up, Soldier! Captain America Enters The Avengers Initiative". AppAdvice. Retrieved August 15, 2014.
  33. "Character Reveals for Marvel Universe LIVE! | News". Marvel.com. Retrieved August 15, 2014.
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