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Comic Book / Hydra

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"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)

Hydra is a fictional subversive organization in the Marvel Universe. It first appeared in Strange Tales #135 (August 1965), created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. It served as the rival organization to S.H.I.E.L.D.. The name is not an acronym but rather a reference to the mythical Lernaean Hydra. 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.

Hydra is a criminal organization dedicated to the achievement of world domination through terrorist and subversive activities on various fronts, resulting in a fascist New World Order. Its extent of operations is worldwide, always attempting to elude the ongoing counter-espionage operations by S.H.I.E.L.D. Hydra is funded by Baron Strucker's 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 Hydra.


The organization is usually run with behind-the-scenes direction by Baron Strucker, alias Supreme Hydra. Under him is a central ruling committee; under them are individual division chiefs, and under them are the rank and file members and special agents.

In order to become a member of Hydra, an individual must be a legal adult willing to submit to a thorough investigation of the applicant's personal background and to swear a death-oath of loyalty to Hydra and its principles.


This Marvel Comics faction provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Baron Strucker's reaction to discovering Andreas Strucker had been killed by Norman Osborn when asking for a favor? "Okay, that's two favors I owe you." (Andy got better though, see Cloning Blues).
  • Ancient Conspiracy:
    • Revealed to be this in Secret Warriors.
    • Obtaining the Serpent Crown, an artifact of the Elder God Set, has been one of its goals.
  • Arch-Enemy: Baron Strucker is this to Nick Fury. Madame Hydra is this to Spider-Woman.
  • Bad Boss: Baron Strucker once blew up a base with 15,000 personnel in it.
  • Bald of Evil: Baron Strucker.
  • Badass Army: Despite all the superheroes being thrown at them they still have managed to survive as an organization for over sixty years.
  • The Baroness: The Ur-Example. The G.I. Joe baddie was inspired by a high-ranking Hydra commander, Viper/Madame Hydra.
  • Big Bad: Baron Strucker was the founder and leader of Hydra. If he's not in charge, Madame Hydra is.
  • Came Back Wrong: Viper. She got better.
  • Characterization Marches On: Or goals and origin stories do, at any rate. In their first appearance, they're a generically SPECTRE-like organization run by "a nondescript businessman." They're soon reinvented as The Remnant, an organization of former Axis war criminals who survived World War Two and are trying to restore a fascistic regime. Then, they're reinvented as an Ancient Conspiracy from the dawn of mankind, responsible for a number of terrible things throughout history, of which fascism is only one of the latest.
  • Cloning Blues: The Red Skull and Baron Strucker's twin children have both cheated death this way.
  • Collapsing Lair: Seems to happen to any place Baron Strucker stays too long.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Literally, with the (temporary) Corporate Hydra branch.
    • Hydra is revealed to have still been involved in this with two major megacorporations under its control.
  • Depending on the Writer: For a time, they were subject to some severe Villain Decay, occasionally portrayed as simple generic terrorists of the week, not even worth fussing about. After Secret Warriors (and then their appearances in the MCU) this has fallen by the wayside.
  • The Dragon:
    • Gorgon.
    • Baron Strucker was this to the Red Skull. It's debatable who created it in comic book continuity as a result.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: A Hydra mainstay.
  • Elite Mooks: Advanced Idea Mechanics started as the Elite Mooks of Hydra, being its super-science division. HYDRA itself developed robotic soldiers called Dreadnoughts for this purpose, and in some continuities Hydra itself started out as or becomes the Elite Mook organization working for the Red Skull.
  • Enemy Civil War: A frequent problem. Hydra are notorious for schisms and violent internal power struggles, but being devoted to the Fuhrer-principle and having no real ideology beyond "Take Over the World"note  will do that.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Japanese Ninja, German Nazis, Arab terrorists, and more. It was a shock reveal in one of their earliest stories that Hydra would even hire... *gasp* women! (it was the 60s).
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Strucker has done some genuinely appalling stuff but has surprisingly done a few Pet the Dog moments as well.
    • Madame Viper is the opposite. She's so scary she terrified the Red Skull.
  • Evil Counterpart: S.H.I.E.L.D.'s.
  • Eviler than Thou:
    • The Kingpin once went against Hydra. For once, it didn't go his way.
    • Against HAMMER. Hydra's been at it a heck of a lot longer.
  • Faceless Goons: Its members all wear identical green masked outfits. The motto of the group is "Cut off a limb and two more will take its place", referencing the monster that is their namesake and lampshading the fact that these guys aren't individuals.
  • Fun with Acronyms: They appeared as Hope Yards Development and Relocation Association in the 2015 relaunch of Ms. Marvel.
  • Ghostapo / Stupid Jetpack Hitler: A weird example as modern Hydra has all of this but is not a Nazi successor organization, having originated as an ancient Egyptian cult called the Brotherhood of the Spear.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Baron Strucker's dueling scars are definitely evil.
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Evil: Hydra's war against the Howling Commando's PMC and Leviathan.
  • Half-Identical Twins: Baron Strucker's mutant twin children, Andreas and Andrea (aka the Fenris twins).
  • Hydra Problem: Hydra has this as its motto but, seriously, no one has yet caused the organization to grow weaker despite 60 years of fighting it.
  • Highly-Conspicuous Uniform: HYDRA soldiers typically wear a bright green/yellow ensemble, sometimes with the organization's logo as a chest patch.
  • The Infiltration: It's revealed that HYDRA had infiltrated SHIELD shortly after the latter had been formed... and then Nick Fury reveals that he'd known that all along and reverse-infiltrated HYDRA, letting them think they were manipulating SHIELD from the shadows when it was actually the other way around.
  • Klingon Promotion: Not above promoting this policy.
  • Legion of Doom: Not really but a surprising number of Marvel villains have either worked for or with HYDRA over the years: Baron Strucker, Baron Zemo, the Kingpin, Richard Fisk, Madame Hydra, the Serpent Society, Crossbones, the Red Skull, Deadpool, Gorgon, Fenris, a brainwashed Wolverine, the Hand, AIM, Richard Nixon (!!) through the Secret Empire, Don Fortunato, The Thunderbolts (without the majority of members knowing), Norman Osborn, and so on. Spider-Woman also started out as a HYDRA agent, until she was set straight by Nick Fury. And now we got Captain friggin' America on their team.
    • During Secret Warriors, they gain a leading council, with Strucker at the top, then Madame Hydra, Viper, the Hive, Kraken and Gorgon.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Leviathan vs. Shield vs. Hydra in the Secret Warriors comic.
  • Mythical Motifs: Named after the Hydra from Greek mythology, a many headed creature, where if you cut off one head, two more grow in its place.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Hydra started off as an actual Nazi organisation during World War II which became independent when the actual Nazis, well, lost. When your founders are Nazis it's no stretch that your organisation end up Nazi-like. (As revealed in Captain America: Hail Hydra and Secret Warriors, Hydra actually let the Nazis think that, but are actually older. Still, they saw the Nazis as having compatible goals, and still have evidence of that connection.)
  • Nazi Gold: How the original Hydra was funded. Magneto's Start of Darkness had him plundering one of their stashes for his own ends.
  • Nazi Nobleman: Baron Strucker, Baron Zemo.
  • Nebulous Evil Organization: One of the oldest and most successful. HYDRA and its logo were clearly based on SPECTRE, the evil organization that 007 repeatedly fights.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Baron Strucker is clearly based on Otto Skorzeny, right down to the prominent dueling scars.
  • Nuke 'em: The Overkill Horn is designed to do this on a large scale.
  • Offscreen Villain Dark Matter: The only way to explain how the organization affords its many, many bases.
    • Secret Warriors retconned this into having two of the largest conglomerates in the world working for them. Their accumulated assets is said to be around six hundred billion dollars.
      • Strucker has alien technology so this is less questionable than it sounds.
  • Overlord Jr.: Fenris (Andreas). He has actually begun to use the name Baron Strucker since his father's death.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: It's implied the majority of Hydra agents are this.
  • Religion of Evil: Has elements of this with the retcon.
  • Renegade Splinter Faction: Several other major Marvel Universe evil organisations began as sub-divisions or splinter-groups of Hydra, notably including AIM, the Hand, and the Secret Empire. The Hand consider themselves to be the original and Hydra the splinter group, however.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Modern Hydra has been known to employ class-warfare rhetoric.
    • Which actually fits with their Nazi roots.
  • Ripped from the Headlines:
    • The organization's history as a mutual aid society for fugitive Nazis that evolved into an international terrorist group bears a distinct resemblance to the ODESSA and Otto Skorzeny's Paladin Group.
    • Similarly, their 2012 revamp as a grassroots group dedicated to fighting the depredations of global neoliberal capitalism probably has something to do with recent failings of the same.
  • Running Both Sides: It turns out that Hydra secretly owned S.H.I.E.L.D. Then it turned out that Nick Fury knew this all along and was using it to manipulate Hydra.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Nick Fury has a Reverse Hannibal Lecture with Baron Strucker at the end of Secret Warriors where he reveals Baron Strucker never controlled SHIELD—Nick Fury had known all along about his bugs and used it to feed him false information.
  • Smug Snake:
88 Andreas Strucker has always been considered to be the whipping boy of Hydra. He eventually stopped being smug when he became the Swordsman. Then he became the Butt-Monkey.
  • The Syndicate: HYDRA is heavily involved in organized crime. Indeed, it is a full-blown Nebulous Criminal Conspiracy appropriately enough. All a crook needs is Hydra or Maggia ties to justify crazy-tech.
  • Take Over the World: As if anything less could satisfy them! Secret Empire is probably the closest they've come: North America and almost all of Europe (save for a small portion of France).
  • Terrorists Without a Cause: Aside from Taking Over The World, that is.
  • There Is No Kill like Overkill: Hydra calls one of its superweapons The Overkill Horn. Its function? Remotely activating every single nuclear weapon on the surface of the planet.
  • Those Wacky Nazis:
    • Their original incarnation. The modern organization has no racial agenda, accepting members from all nationalities. One snarky but likely explanation is: "You can't sell toys of Nazis."
    • In Captain America: The First Avenger they stand-in for Nazis as the main menace, probably to allow the film to show where such references are forbidden. This also happened in some Marvel cartoons as well.
  • Trial by Combat: In their early days, any agent who screwed up was given the chance to redeem themselves in a fight... which was heavily rigged against them.
  • We Have Reserves: And HOW! Hydra has lost literally tens of thousands of personnel on-screen over the course of its existence.
  • Western Terrorists: Although it has Asian roots.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?:
    • A question never asked by superheroes as even die-hards capes like Captain America have no problem killing Hydra goons.
    • Subverted by Deadpool's sidekick Bob.
  • Villain Team-Up: Surprisingly rare until recently. Most Hydra villains were members of Hydra or one of its break-away branches. Norman Osborn is one of the few to reach out to Hydra.
  • You Have Failed Me: The penalty for failure in Hydra is death. In fact, in the organization's years of being divided and fractured without Baron Von Strucker, the various Hydra factions were spending more time killing themselves after their schemes were thwarted than accomplishing anything.