By Jim Beard
This past Sunday, the Avengers found themselves caught between the forces of A.I.M. and Hydra in an all-out war for control of the Cosmic Cube.
But where did Hydra come from? How did A.I.M. get started? And just what is the Cosmic Cube? Come with us as we open up the Marvel history books to give you another set of annotations to the latest episode of "The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!" and don't forget to catch an all-new episode this Sunday at 10:00 a.m. on Disney XD.
As one of the oldest and most dangerous global terrorist organizations, HYDRA’s aim is nothing short of total domination. Their origins stand cloaked in ancient mystery, but their impact on the planet and its defenders cannot be denied. HYDRA claims to support myriad members across the entire world, as evidenced in their motto: “Hail, HYDRA! Immortal HYDRA! We shall never be destroyed! Cut off a limb, and two more shall take its place!”
Despite its seeming destruction, or at least crippling, in the final days of World War II, Hydra grew stronger after the conflict and reared its ugly head in modern times. Captain America became one of the group’s most staunch opponents and, with the aid of Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D., he’s kept this many-headed serpent at bay. Unfortunately, you never really know where HYDRA lurks--and where it’ll strike next.
You can catch HYDRA’s very first appearance in STRANGE TALES #135, and their first scuffle with Cap in TALES OF SUSPENSE #85, reprinted in MARVEL MASTERWORKS: CAPTAIN AMERICA VOL. 2. For a more recent take on HYDRA, check out the recent CAPTAIN AMERICA: HAIL HYDRA! limited series, now collected in trade paperback, and catch "Captain America: The First Avenger" in theaters July 22 to see Cap take the fight to HYDRA on the bigscreen!
A.I.M., or more properly Advanced Idea Mechanics, grew out of HYDRA leader Baron Strucker’s need for an arm of his terrorist organization to develop and build weaponry, as well as explore the outer reaches of science and twist them to the organization's evil ends. A.I.M. eventually split off from the serpent and began to create trouble all their own. A.I.M. has since become a source for high-tech armaments and other devilments for Earth’s heroes.
The restless brains behind A.I.M. have devised some of the weirdest and wildest inventions ever known to mankind. Their “advances” include the Super-Adaptoid, M.O.D.O.K. and, of course, the Cosmic Cube. Unfortunately for them, their scientists have become so full of themselves over the years that many A.I.M. splinter groups have broken off to cause more chaos.
|M.O.D.O.K. fights Captain America|
One may read of A.I.M.’s first mention (as THEM) in STRANGE TALES #142, and their opening salvo against Captain America in TALES OF SUSPENSE #78, which just happens to be collected in MARVEL MASTERWORKS: CAPTAIN AMERICA VOL. 1. M.O.D.O.K. made the scene in TALES OF SUSPENSE #93, found in MARVEL MASTERWORKS: CAPTAIN AMERICA VOL. 2, and unveiled his origins in CAPTAIN AMERICA #133.
|Red Skull and the Cosmic Cube|
The Cosmic Cube
As stated, perhaps one of A.I.M.’s greatest “achievements” lies in the strange story of the Cosmic Cube. A containment vessel for energies whose make-up defies definition, the Cosmic Cube possesses the power--among others--of reality-warping and wish-fulfillment. On Earth, the Cube came into being at the whim of the rogue science organization in their quest for world-rule. As fate would have it, the first Cube fell into the hands of Captain America’s worst foe, the Red Skull, for his own nefarious purposes.
The Cube has since fallen into other hands, some more evil than others, but it always seems to somehow slip away from their grasp to insure the safety of the world. Rumor has it that the Cube is in reality a sentient being all its own, but the truth of that remains to be seen. Suffice to say, it exists as one of the most coveted and powerful artifacts on Earth.
Check out TALES OF SUSPENSE #79 for the first glimpse of the Cosmic Cube, collected in MARVEL MASTERWORKS: CAPTAIN AMERICA VOL. 1, and MARVEL MASTERWORKS: CAPTAIN AMERICA VOL. 4 for the Red Skull’s second go-round with it, originally seen in CAPTAIN AMERICA #115-120.
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