Captain America’s Outer Circle is Marvel’s Most Dangerous Secret Organization | Popgen Tech
Despite Captain America’s good manners and star-spangled looks, his life has always been shrouded in conflict and conspiracy. Over the years, Steve Rogers has dealt with everything from top secret government programs to truth-banning regimes, but none have posed quite the same kind of threat as the Outer Circle. Not only did this vast organization stay out of the public eye for decades, but its efforts reshaped the world as we know it. Of course, it’s less clear how they managed to do so many things for so long without stopping. At least, that was the case until recently when the origins of the Outer Circle were revealed, and it explains not only where they came from, but how they managed to escape destroying themselves from within.
As Bucky Barnes struggles to adjust to his newfound position within the Outer Circle, Captain America and the Winter Soldier Special #1 (by Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, Kev Walker, JP Mayer, KJ Díaz, and VC’s Joe Caramagna) takes readers back a hundred years to witness the organization’s first meeting. In the middle of a barren stretch of desert, four of the world’s most influential and secretive men come together alongside Gavrilo Princip, the real man whose assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand started World War I. There they began to chart their own map of the world. Their design is one in which the Outer Circle establishes the structure of their organization, as well as the rules of their Century Game. Unsurprisingly, this kind of megalomaniacal villain is an affront to everything Princip stands for, and that’s exactly why the Outer Circle desperately needs his presence.
The Source of the Outer Circle Confirms Their Power
Although the Outer Circle is committed to seeing their will shape the world around them, the Princip’s presence among their other members indicates that their intentions are far from purely malevolent. Power, Money, the Machine, and Love all have their own ideals for the future, none of which align with Princip’s hopes for abject freedom and peace. While they don’t contradict each other, they don’t work for the same goal either. This makes it all the more important that the Revolution take part in the game. With one player working against the others, there is always someone keeping an eye on the rest of the Outer Circle, unlike other, similar organizations that have spawned the Marvel Universe.
Following the events of the Kree-Skrull War, Tony Stark takes it upon himself to build a team capable of handling similar types of massive, universe-sharing events without fear of alienating each other. . In hopes of providing a united front, the Illuminati was formed. In their first appearance in 2005’s New Avengers #7 (by Brian Michael Bendis and Steve McNiven), fellow founding members of the Illuminati question Stark’s decision to reform the series’ eponymous team. Being part of the Illuminati and sharing powers like the Infinity Stones may not have prevented its members from making unilateral decisions, but it kept them in control of each other at least.
The Outer Circle Succeeds Where Other Secret Organizations Fail
Like so many other shadowy groups determined to bend the word to their will, the Illuminati eventually fell despite their amazing powers and resources. Not even Norman Osborn’s Cabal or the insane Intelligencia could avoid suffering the same fate, which makes it all the more surprising that the Outer Circle stayed together and under the radar for so long. Somehow, they continued their game without stopping in almost every possible way. This is somewhat related to the role played by the Revolution, but more likely they have succeeded all these years simply by playing by the rules they set for themselves.
While the Illuminati and other comparable groups have repeatedly weakened before finally collapsing, the Outer Circle maintains a delicate equilibrium built on mutual respect and complete transparency. As Bucky was about to find out, it just wasn’t possible to circumvent the structure the Outer Circle had established for their proceedings in any meaningful way. As such, the Outer Circle protects itself from both outside influence and its own membership. If there is a model for the Illuminati to follow, the Outer Circle is absolutely it. Then again, it’s probably for the better that they didn’t, especially considering how much more harm they did than good.