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Marvel's Avengers / X-Men Mashup Team Has A New Villain - But Who Is He?

Contains spoilers for "Uncanny X-Men" #1

With the X-Men reeling in the aftermath of the events of "Fall of X," one of their greatest allies has become one of their biggest enemies. "Uncanny Avengers" #1 follows up on the introduction of the Captain Krakoa suit, a power-enhancing armor used by Cyclops to help the X-Men deflect the public's attention from their resurrection protocols by creating a new, image-friendly superhero persona. Unfortunately for the X-Men, the suit was stolen by a mysterious force before the deadly Hellfire Gala attack, where it was used to assist Orchis in their massacre. In Marvel's 2023 Free Comic Book Day issue, people watched as Captain Krakoa bombed the U.S. Capitol and destroyed the mutant's Treehouse headquarters in Manhattan, where he also murdered Cyclops, the original bearer of the mantle. The disguised villain's actions have helped lead the public to turn against Marvel's mutants, with Captain Krakoa's secret identity remaining a mystery to everyone — including the X-Men.

In the newest "Uncanny Avengers" series (by Gerry Duggan, Javier Garron, Morry Hollowell, VC's Travis Lanham, Tom Muller, and Jay Bowen), readers learn more about the new Captain Krakoa's origin, but not every mystery is solved. In a flashback, we see M.O.D.O.K. and Doctor Stasis awaken the villain, telling him the world has changed for the worse since he's been gone. As the new Captain Krakoa torments the X-Men and the Avengers, leading to the formation of a joint team called the Unity Squad, the question remains: who is the costumed foe? Well, we have some guesses.

Captain America's evil doppelgänger might have returned

In Marvel Comics' "Secret Empire" (by Nick Spencer, Steve McNiven, Rod Reis, Daniel Acuna, Andrea Sorrentino, and Travis Lanham), the world was introduced to a tyrant version of Captain America created by Red Skull and the Cosmic Cube to work with Hydra instead of the U.S. Government. The alternate version of Steve Rogers was a Nazi who attempted to shape the world in Hydra's image and was nearly successful in doing so. Despite being killed and bursting into flames after his downfall, there is evidence that the evil Captain America could be the face behind the new Captain Krakoa.

In "Uncanny Avengers" #1, Captain Krakoa tricks X-Men villains Blob and Wildside into gaining access to the pits of Krakoa, where mutants deemed unable to be rehabilitated are still being kept. There, he finds Andrea and Andreas Von Strucker, aka Fenris, the mutant twins of former Hydra leader Baron Von Strucker, who think it's Cyclops coming to rescue them. Hearing Captain Krakoa refer to their family as "great" despite their Nazi ties hints he has an affection for Hydra's history.

Interestingly, the scene immediately following Captain Krakoa's rescue mission features Deadpool and the real Captain America with text that highlights Steve Rogers giving Deadpool a second chance on the newly-formed Avengers team despite having been tricked into killing S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson during "Secret Empire." The blatant mention of the 2017 event immediately following Captain Krakoa's meeting with the Von Strucker children sure feels like a hint that evil Steve is behind the mask. It's possible M.O.D.O.K. and Doctor Stasis somehow kept him alive after he was incinerated and were waiting for the perfect moment to unleash him on the Marvel Universe. Bringing Nazi Cap back would be a bold move.

John Walker could be under the Captain Krakoa mask

John Walker might seem like an odd choice to be the new Captain Krakoa, but his recent actions during Marvel Comics' "Devil's Reign" crossover event feel like a potential prelude to gearing up in Cyclops' stolen armor.

In "Devil's Reign: Villains for Hire" (by Clay McLeod Chapman, Manuel Garcia, Lorenzo Ruggiero, Scott Hanna, Livesay, Andy Owens, Victor Nava, Protobunker's Dono Sanchez-Almara, Fer Sifuentes-Sujo, and VC's Joe Sabino), Walker is hired by former Mayor Wilson Fisk to join a new Thunderbolts team formed to enforce Fisk's staunch rules against vigilantism in New York City. In the three-issue miniseries, Walker expresses specific disgust regarding the X-Men, Krakoa, and their interdimensional gates to New York City. In one scene, he tries to take down a Krakoan gate while saying he "hates these freaks" when referring to the mutant heroes. He sees the mutants' now-destroyed Treehouse base as U.S. government property that doesn't belong to them.

Walker could have become Captain Krakoa to make sure his vision of what the United States should look like gets enforced. The super-patriotic antihero (and sometimes villain) might be a former Avenger, but it's conceivable he might don the new costume and attack the U.S. government for failing to uphold his standards of what the country should stand for. Why Walker would work with Hydra remains to be seen, but if he wanted to dismantle the X-Men and infiltrate the U.S.'s political infrastructure, becoming Captain Krakoa would allow him to execute his plan without suspicion being drawn to him.

Nuke also fits the bill

Nuke, aka Frank Simpson, who readers might remember from his live-action adaptation in the "Jessica Jones" Netflix series, is one of the deadliest patriotic characters in the Marvel Universe. Though introduced as a Daredevil foe, the American flag-faced villain has sparred with the X-Men as well, including recent bouts during the "Death of Wolverine" storyline where he worked alongside Madame Hydra, and in the "Weapon X" ongoing series where the former Weapon X expirimentee battled several mutant heroes.

So what makes Nuke a potential candidate as the new Captain Krakoa? In 2018's "Captain America" #3 (by Ta-Neihisi Coates, Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, Sunny Gho, and Joe Caramagna), it was revealed clones of Nuke had been created by the organization Power Elite (which had ties to Hydra) in order to commit terrorist acts in the United States. While the Nuke clones were defeated and hundreds of Nukes in containment were killed, seeing M.O.D.O.K. and Doctor Stasis awaken Captain Krakoa from his own stasis opens the possibility of the villain being cloned again or, potentially, being an earlier Nuke clone who survived. Nuke committing terrorist acts and turning on the U.S. government would track with Captain Krakoa's mission, as would his hatred for mutants, making him an unlikely but worthy reveal as Captain Krakoa.

Is someone else getting revenge on the X-Men?

Of course, Captain Krakoa's real identity could be someone else entirely. Could Red Skull be trying to reform Hydra and take on a disguise to accomplish his sinister goals? How about Baron Von Strucker? An evil Cyclops clone? Those options would all make sense, as there are many potential answers to the truth behind the newly arrived villain, but Marvel is clearly pointing at one character: Evil Captain America.

In the final pages of "Uncanny Avengers," Captain Krakoa's New Mutant Liberation Front team is revealed as they take on the Avengers' newly formed Unity Squad. In his battle against Captain America, it's noted how much stronger the villain is than an ordinary human. At the same time, he also tells Steve Rogers his attacks "are so obvious and predictable" as he grabs his shield and breaks the super soldier's arm. Krakoa knowing Captain America's moves would be explained by him being the hero's literal evil counterpart. Captain Krakoa being revealed as the old Hydra Supreme would be a great way to introduce Steve Rogers' dark opposite as "Uncanny Avengers'" big villain while giving him a role that makes him nearly as despicable as his original actions did in "Secret Empire."

Readers can see Captain Krakoa rise and take on the Unity Squad in "Uncanny Avengers" #1 from Marvel Comics, which is now available in comic book stores and via online retailers.