Bad guys get all the best stuff. The volcano hideouts, the sharks with laser beams, the fluffy lap cat...everything cool. You know, the jet packs, the robot spiders, the space-ship swallowing ocean liners, the ocean-liner swallowing spaceships, the weather machines, the Palm Pilots, the sexy robots, the virulent plagues, and let us not forget the trained chimps. That goes double for all your criminal organizations, too: SMERSH, SPECTRE, THRUSH, KAOS, GALAXY, CHUMP, THEM, HIVE, AIM, RICO, and especially Hydra. Hydra? Yes, Hydra! The major villains of the brand-new major motion picture Captain America and the Guy Who Likes to Play in the Snow? Yep, that Hydra: the one run by the Sensational Character Find of 1969. You know, "cut one limb off and two more grow in its place" Hydra. That's a fearful power but must be really hard to buy them a sweater for Christmas.
It's true: if you can get it in the Evil Sky Mall Catalogue, then Hydra's got one or two. Who do you think it is who really shopped at Evil Brookstone's and Evil Sharper Image? Evil organizations like Hydra have got to continually keep up with the (evil) Joneses, so it's likely that more than 93% of their ill-gotten gains from gun-running, dirigible heists, and earthquake extortion goes straight back into R&D. And it's worth every penny. Why, without it, they wouldn't have the betatron bomb...
Panel from "Sometimes the Good Guys Lose!" in Strange Tales #138 (November 1965), plot and layouts by Jack Kirby, dialogue by Stan Lee, finishes by John Severin, colors by Stan Goldberg, letters by Sam Rosen
...the overseas fire monitor...
..and the only true friend that the Supreme Hydra has ever had.
But none of those things, as amazing, extraordinary, and evil as they are, can hold a flaming stick of dynamite to...
HYDRA'S CRIME DIAL!
Because, when you're overseeing a vast criminal empire, you've got a lot on your mind, so why not apply an animal-based mnemonic to your lieutenants? (Just be sure you're up front in line so you don't get dubbed "The Wombat" or head of "The Cicada Division."
Hydra's Crime Dial allows the Supreme Hydra to contact every division of his vast nefarious staff, with the possible exception of the "flamingo" secretarial pool. Just spin the wheel, venture to buy a vowel, and reach out to touch a fox or a leopard or a beaver! (What? What? What is everyone laughing about? I don't get it.)
Remember when you were in Cub Scouts and they divided the troops up into animal packs? And you wanted to get picked for the Cougars or the Bears or the Puff Adders? And instead you got stuck in Piglet Squad? Yeah, that's kind of what it's like for the members of "The Mole Squadron" at HYDRA. I picture it as being 30 Rock, but with everybody in green jumpsuits and hoods. Yes, especially Liz Lemon.
Panel from "The Brave Die Hard!!" in Strange Tales #139 (December 1965), plot and layouts by Jack Kirby, dialogue by Stan Lee, finishes by Joe Sinnott, colors by Stan Goldberg, letters by Artie Simek
I suppose Hydra could have miniaturized this and put it all on a desk with pushbuttons, but hey, if last fiscal year's budget was higher than you expected, you gotta spend the cash on something or you won't get the funding next year. Thus was born the Crime Dial, from which vast troops of tigers can be sent after Nick Fury, brandishing their Sugar Frosted Flakes and telling him how GRRRRRRRREAT! he is.
And so it is why, why they are frequently defeated, Hydra will never be destroyed for good (see, for example, the mid-credits scene in that Cap movie...you didn't walk out, did you?)...because of the Crime Dial. S.H.I.E.L.D.* may have some circular things of their own...
Top: Panel from "Who Strikes atSHIELD?" in Strange Tales #142 (March 1966), plot and pencils by Jack Kirby, dialogue by Stan Lee, inks by Mike Esposito, colors by Stan Goldberg, letters by Artie Simek
Bottom: Panel from "The Man for the Job!" in Strange Tales #135 (August 1965), plot and pencils by Jack Kirby, dialogue by Stan Lee, inks by Dick Ayers, colors by Stan Goldberg, letters by Artie Simek
But accept no substitutions for the patented Hydra Crime Dial, the device so effective it later was seen in Daredevil #121. Albeit not by Daredevil.
Panel from Daredevil #121 (May 1975), co-plot and script by Tony Isabella, co-plot and pencils by Bob Brown, inks by Vince Colletta, colors by Don Warfield, letters by Karen Mantlo
Oh, and let's not forget Hydra's diabolical Wheel of Food.
from Strange Tales #139
More recently, in the pages of Dark Reign: The List: Secret Warriors: One-Shot, the 2009 Eisner Award-winner for "Most Colons in a comic not drawn by Ernie," Hydra has finally modernized their organizational wheel. It's clear that in the years between the Crime Dial and this, somebody's been learning Powerpoint.
Click image to organizational-bloat-size
But, y'know, that can't be the real Hydra organizational chart, so I went online to the secret hidden website www.hydra.com and downloaded their real organizational chart, which I present to you here for the very first time. Enjoy, but don't tell 'em Bully sent you!
*Scheduled Haggis Ingestion Eliminates Lethargy and Diphtheria.