PREPARED BY MARIA HILL
The Hand and Hydra share a history of violence, deceit, and boundless ambition for power. Hydra is a much older organization, dating back thousands of years but curiously undergoing a dormant period during the time the Hand was created and began to flourish, in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Much later, during World War II, Hydra was reborn. The first members of this new cabal were drawn from the most extreme elements of the Hand, which at that time was primarily an underground organization of Japanese ultranationalists.
Wolfgang von Strucker and various fugitive Nazis took over Hydra after the war, driving Hydra away from its original focus on subverting the Japanese government. Strucker desired world domination, and developed Hydra to that end. The Hand remained a more shadowy and less well understood group, but its leaders frequently lent personnel to Hydra. Sometimes these Hand ninjas were deployed by one Hydra faction against another. After Baron Zemo of the South American Hydra faction deposed Strucker, a Hydra-Hand alliance undertook an all-out assault on SHIELD. This battle was resolved in SHIELD’s favor.
The Hand has also killed and resurrected certain individuals to provide Hydra with potent assassins. The two organizations may be entering a period of renewed cooperation in the aftermath of the Pulse. Elektra Natchios, who fought with Hydra in the abovementioned assault on SHIELD, now leads the Hand. She has worked with Viper and Hydra’s other leadership elements previously, and may be expected to do so again. In addition, former Hand assassin Gorgon has recently been part of Hydra’s leadership.
Apart from Natchios, little is known about the current makeup of the Hand’s leadership. SHIELD intelligence suggests that Hydra has influence within the Hand, and that leaders of both groups have begun cooperating with a shared goal in mind. The nature of this goal is unclear, since Hydra prefers modern methods and the Hand is beholden to the apocalyptic ends of its own religious beliefs, which revolve around its patron demon known as the Beast.
PREPARED BY STEVE ROGERS
Hydra was founded by Johann Schmidt (see also “The Red Skull”) as the Third Reich’s elite weapons program. After the death of the Skull and the collapse of Hitler’s Nazi government, Baron Helmut Zemo escaped from Germany to Japan with much of Hydra’s equipment and personnel. He reorganized the group as an autonomous secret society bent on world domination. From its beginning, the organization emphasized technological innovation, recruiting or kidnapping brilliant scientists and turning them loose with no ethical restraints.
One consequence of this initiative was the emergence of the splinter group A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics), which broke from Hydra in the 1960s, after Hydra’s original island headquarters was destroyed.
Using a variety of shell companies and compliant governments, Hydra developed into a worldwide power, with immense resources. It is capable of striking at any moment and maintains a network of spies and informants in virtually every government and large corporation in the world. The organization’s Nazi origins still live on in its despotic goals and its “Hail Hydra!” salute. Its current leadership consists of Baron Helmut Zemo and/or Viper.
AIM developed into a secret society of power-hungry technocrats, rejecting political ideology and pursuing world domination through science and technology. One of its most lethal creations is M.O.D.O.K. (q.v.), formerly an A.I.M. technician and now the organization’s leader and an artificial mutant with an array of lethal powers.
Hydra’s fascist leanings and A.I.M.’s techno-tyrannical ambitions have brought the two organizations into open conflict on several occasions. Because both Zemo, Viper and MODOK seek the same thing—power—they see each other as rivals and are constantly striving to destroy each other. Even so, they will occasionally work together if each sees a benefit. These periods of cooperation are short-lived.
Further tensions between Hydra and AIM should be anticipated. It is standard S.H.I.E.L.D. procedure to use intelligence and psy-ops to keep Zemo, Viper and MODOK at odds with each other.
PREPARED BY JASPER SITWELL
To: Department of Defense
From: Jasper Sitwell
An executive summary of the criminal organization Hydra:
It is evident that Hydra first formed as a science and technology research group inside the Third Reich. The Red Skull claimed to be the founder, but more credible sources say he wrested control from an original leader when he saw its potential for turning exotic science into personal power. He did create a ruthless and secret security corps to protect their research. History might have turned out far worse if it continued serving the Reich, but as we now know, the Red Skull went rogue and took the group of scientists and soldiers as his personal think tank. Hydra at times was in direct conflict with the SS as well as Allied forces, and ironically (and unintentionally) may have hastened the defeat of the Reich itself.
Following the defeat of the Axis powers and apparent death of the Red Skull, the power vacuum at the top of Hydra was quickly filled by Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, well known to Allied intelligence as a Nazi spymaster. In the chaos of post-war Germany, the whole organization – labs, armories, warehouses of material – vanished without a trace, and some foolishly believed it had disbanded.
Instead, Strucker dispersed the group between several secret bases throughout the world. In its banishment, its overall goal of world domination remained unchanged, but its methods now skewed toward more infamous acts of terror and murder. Some of their greatest outrages – the mass murder of superheroes and villains alike, inter-dimensional invasions, the infiltration of S.H.I.E.L.D. – are so well known they need no further explanation.
The group has evolved through countless changes in leadership, from Strucker, to Viper, to Gorgon, to Viper and Baron Zemo. What has remained constant is their goal of world domination, to subjugate all humanity under their own tyrannical rule. Its members still live by the Hydra Oath, which states “Cut off one head and two more shall take its place!” With its research labs powered by both alien and occult technologies, it remains one of the greatest threats to peace and security in the world today.