Thursday, 7 February 2013

An unusual Death's Head cameo... SPOILERS for Ultimates #20

Thanks to reader Uggabug for drawing my attention to this one, o]in the comments section of another post.

So, most long term Marvel readers (And some Marvel movie audiences too, these days) are probably aware of H.Y.D.R.A. The terrorist organisation, chased across the globe by S.H.I.E.L.D., which effectively allowed Marvel to do post-World War 2 stories featuring Nazis, but without actually featuring, well... Nazis?

"Cut off a Limb, and two more shall grow back in its place!" These guys:

Led by likes of The Red Skull, Baron Zemo and Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker I don't think that many people would have trouble figuring out that HYDRA had Nazi Germany roots, but there are still some territories in Europe where displaying the likeness of a Nazi Swastika, even in a historical context, is actually illegal, and punishable. So by replacing that with the tentacled skull above made it much easier to continue telling stories which used racial extremists as themes and villains, but without the sensitive and  potentially real world elements getting in the way.

It's not that Marvel deny that Nazism in WW2 ever happened of course. This is the company which showed Captain America punching Hitler. It's woven into their continuity. When Marvel were referring to Von Strucker's Death's Head Squadron they were talking about the real life Nazi faction of the same name. Albeit that Baron Von Strucker was not real. But you know what I mean. It's the modern day stories they try to avoid using Nazis in.

Recently, over in Marvel's Ultimate Comics line (which for the unaware is a totally separate continuity to the mainstream books) they have been slowly introducing an Ultimate Universe version of HYDRA. During the 2012 crossover event 'Divided We Fall' Marvel had the whole of society in the USA effectively collapse, with Washington DC wiped off the map by a nuclear blast, and entire States breaking off from Union. So much so that Captain America came out of retirement, helped The Ultimates win the day, and (somehow) wound up being voted in as President.

No. Really.

Anyway, in the background of this storyline they have been introducing the Ultimate Universe's version of HYDRA. No Nazi ties in this version. They're an American based 'Anti-government Militia' with so far undefined ideals, but a very clear goal of world domination in there somewhere. They still use the same emblem.

In The Ultimates #19 it was revealed that none other than Nick Fury had turned up working for an exclusive splinter faction of HYDRA. In disguise. For reasons unknown. A splinter faction known as 'Death's Head Hydra'.

Death's Head Hydra are still not Nazis, though. They're not the the Death's Head Squadron of WW2. Just another arm of this US-based militia. They do have a slightly different logo, though. A hydra logo with a small, quite distinctive alteration. I wasn't 100% certain, at first, but by the end of The Ultimates #20 there really can't be much doubt...

Let's just focus on that logo, for a second...

Well, that looks a little familiar, yes?

What's the likeness of the Universe's finest Freelance Peace-keeping Agent doing being inter-weaved into a HYDRA logo? :)

I'm no fool, here. It's probably just Scott Eaton doing a nod to the character, for the fun of it. It doesn't mean that we're finally getting some kind of Ultimate Death's Head, or anything.  But it does make you wonder...

I'll be keeping my eyes peeled on this one, for a while.


  1. With all this usage of Death's Head recently, it's got me thinking that Marvel have something in mind with him. There's also an action figure of Classic Death's Head due this year.


    1. Yes, Chris. I recall it being announced at Toy fare last year. Although they didn't actually have a prototypr figure on show. I'm hopefull it's still in their plans.