|Red Skull Portrait, Circa 1943|
|Position||Leader of HYDRA|
Johann Schmidt, also known as Red Skull, is the commanding officer of HYDRA-Abteilung, a special weapons division of the Nazi Schutzstaffel and the more modern incarnation of the ancient HYDRA society the Brotherhood of the Spear. A brilliant scientist in his own right, he fought his way through the ranks of Nazi elite to become a confidant of Adolf Hitler himself. His ambition to become the superior man however, led him to test the prototype version of Super Soldier Serum on himself. As result of the serum itself being imperfect, combined with his own evil personality, the said serum did bestow him the very superhuman strengths that he dreamt of at cost of deformations on his body, molding him into the horrifying Red Skull. After gaining possession of the mystical Tesseract and its unimaginable power, he decided to turn his back on the Third Reich and rule the world alone. However, as World War II raged, his plans would be challenged by the only Allied super soldier, Captain America.
Service to the Nazis Edit
Originally a professor at one of the universities in Berlin, Johann Schmidt became an Officer of the Schutzstaffel with the rank of Obergruppenführer. He was closely affiliated with Heinrich Himmler and Adolf Hitler. Schmidt and Hitler shared a passion for Norse mythology according to Abraham Erskine, a German scientist who had defected to the United States. Hitler had subsequently located Erskine and sent Schmidt to force him to finish an experimental physiology-enhancing serum, only for Schmidt to take the serum and inject it into himself. The unfinished serum increased Schmidt's physical & mental abilities, however it also caused a combustion reaction that horribly scarred his face, disfiguring its appearance to that of a hideous Red Skull.
HYDRA's Revolution Edit
Schmidt sought out and stole theTesseract, a powerful artifact believed to be of Asgardian descent from a monastery in Tønsberg, Norway, and used its energy to power his armaments and weaponry. He later executed a trio of Nazi officers who objected to his plan to destroy every capital on earth, including Berlin, as he believed HYDRA couldn't grow any further under Hitler's command.
Schmidt also sent an assassin after Erskine before the scientist could carry his "Super Soldier Serum" experiment any further. While the attack on Erskine proved successful, Schmidt's agent was unable to obtain a sample of the improved serum due to the intervention of Steven Rogers, the successful test subject that Erskine had been enhanced with the serum.
The Red Skull's Fall Edit
Confronting Steve Rogers, Schmidt was outraged at the discovery that his 'counterpart' was nothing but a "kid from Brooklyn", and became increasingly hostile as Rogers' forces decimated various Hydra bases throughout occupied Europe. In Schmidt's final plan to destroy America with a Tesseract-powered plane, the plane was hijacked by Rogers, who damaged the device that transferred the Tesseract's power to the ship. When Schmidt attempted to pick up the cube, it created a portal in the sky (also showing a vision of another galaxy) before seemingly disintegrating him and burning through the aircraft floor to fall into the ocean below.
The Red Skull's Return Edit
Schmidt didn't die when he touched the cube but rather he was transported to Jotumhein where he remained frozen for 70 years until Loki attempted to conquer the Frost Giants, in the process freeing the Red Skull. He was later taken captive by a pack of Chitauri who were investigating the now accessible Tesseract energy surge. Schmidt was then taken to Thanos, and the Red Skull told Thanos who he was and what his goals were. In the end Thanos agreed to return Schmidt to earth so he could disrupt the heroes and help him in his search for the rest of the infinity stones.
In 2012, during Loki's campaign against the Avengers, after Loki escaped SHIELD and had assembled his portal to the Chitauri space, Loki tested the portal by first ensuring that it worked with the Red Skull as the test subject. After returning to Earth, Loki arranged for the Skull to have several controlled SHIELD agents re-introduce him into society and how to plan his next move. To the Red Skull's fortune, one of Loki's mind bent SHIELD agents was a HYDRA operative within SHIELD's ranks, who having recognized his true leaderrevealed the truth of HYDRA's continued existence.
Hiding in Plain Sight Edit
After this revelation, the Red Skull made contact with one of his former operatives who managed to stay alive ever since the second world war, Daniel Whitehall, who still loyal to the Red Skull oversaw his return to modern society personally. Wanting to be put in a position of power, the two spent months reviewing different political individuals that could become the Red Skull's new identity and came upon Dell Rusk. Rusk was chosen due to him having the same height as the Skull along with body build, eye color, and lack of family, because of this Dell Rusk would be the front for the Red Skull's new base of power.
The real Dell Rusk who at the time was serving the United States as the Under Secretary of Defense, would be abducted in the year 2013, after the Red Skull had spent several months learning about the politics of the enemy as well as Dell Rusk's life so as to maintain the illusion of Rusk being the same. After Dell Rusk was abducted, preparations were made for the Red Skull to step into Rusk's seat in the political arena, and by the time the transformation was complete in late 2013, the Red Skull had become Dell Rusk.
Red Skull's Activities Edit
While the Under Secretary of Defense, Red Skull had himself labeled on Project Insight as one of its many targets so that should the plan fail he would not be exposed as a HYDRA affiliate, but should the plan succeed a safe guard would activate within Project Insight removing Dell Rusk as a target and allowing the Red Skull to reclaim his power. After Project Insight was prevented by Captain America and his allies, the Red Skull's contingency plan of placing himself on the kill list worked as he was not a suspect in working with HYDRA. His cover within the government would be protected further when Daniel Whitehall having not revealed the Skull's activities to anyone, died in the name of HYDRA, thereby dying with the secret of the Red Skull still being alive.
With the loss of Alexander Pierce as Secretary of Defense, Dell Rusk then set the groundwork for making himself the next Secretary of Defense. Winning the title through both acting the part of compassion and dirty politics, Dell Rusk became the new Secretary of Defense, taking Pierce's place within HYDRA. In 2016, when HYDRA was defeated by Glenn Talbot's forces, the Red Skull's work for the organization over the past two years had set the ground work for concealing his own faction of HYDRA which would grow stronger with the others desperate for someone to lead them with more and more of HYDRA's heads being cut off. With everything he had worked for, the Red Skull had regained his former glory and become the true head of HYDRA.
Powers and Abilities Edit
Super Soldier Serum Enhancements: Johann Schmidt took an unfinished prototype of the Super Soldier Serum that caused the severe and hideous transformation of Schmidt's appearance into a living Red Skull, but also obtained incredible attributes, such as enormous strength, speed, stamina and reflexes, and got even his intelligence increased, becoming a war mastermind.
- Enhanced Strength: The Red Skull's physical strength can match Steve to the very peak of human potential.
- Enhanced Mobility: The Red Skull is able to run at a speed of approximately 30 miles per hour. The Red Skull have agility superior to that of any Olympic athlete. Schmidt's reflexes are similarly enhanced and are superior to those of the finest athlete.
- Enhanced Endurance: His bones and muscles are denser and harder than normal, to the highest human potential, which makes him very durable compared to a normal human. Schmidt's musculature produces less fatigue toxins during physical activity than the musculature of an ordinary human.
- Accelerated Healing: Schmidt's body also has a protective system of enhanced healing & regeneration. This can also extend his longevity & vitality.
- Enhanced Intelligence: His mental performance has been greatly enhanced, allowing his mind to operate in the most efficient and rapid manner possible.