Pros & Cons: ‘Secret Empire’ #1

Marvel’s last event for a while is finally upon us, Secret Empire has begun. Naturally, being a Marvel event, there’s a lot of drama and outrage surrounding the title. There’s been a lot of hate being thrown at Marvel recently. Some of it is completely warranted, some of it’s the publisher catering to people who aren’t even buying their books. Regardless of how you feel about Marvel, Secret Empire #1 came out, here are some Pros & Cons.

secret empire 1 cvr


Hydra Skull Troopers

PRO: HYDRA Skull Troopers

Every regime needs it’s foot soldiers, Cap has apparently decided the standard green & yellow agents weren’t enough. The design for these troopers is great. The dark color scheme combined with a tribute to either Red Skull (but Steve just killed him) or Crossbones makes for a menacing bunch of death dealers.

secret empire 1 champions

CON: Stop Trying To Make Champions Happen

Mark Waid’s ongoing Champions series about Marvel’s young heroes is a fine comic book title. It’s an effective and entertaining title that gets it’s message and politics across without being too pushy. Unfortunately, every appearance by the team in any other book is clearly Marvel trying to pump them up to be more important than they are.

There’s nothing wrong with these heroes. They might not be the most popular, but they’re a solid team. The problem is that Marvel is desperately trying to advance them up the ranks without any substance. Readers don’t need them shoved down their throats, Marvel needs to let them gain more of a fan base on their own. You don’t become the top super hero squad over night.

secret empire 1 mutants

PRO: Mutants

The X-Men don’t have a major role in Secret Empire just yet, making only a single panel appearance so far. Whatever the “Mutants’ Sovereign Republic of New Tian” is, give us more of it. This brooding bunch of mutants, centered by Xorn, has done something to piss HYDRA off. Here’s to hoping they don’t sit this one out.

secret empire 1 sharon carter

CON: Sharon Carter’s Old Ass

First she’s stripped of her role as S.H.I.E.L.D. Director by her boyfriend, then watches him takeover the world in the name of HYDRA. Sharon Carter is having a rough go of it. Her strange position as Steve’s prisoner/lover can’t be easy. Even so, why in the hell would she stick around?

There’s nobody else in the 616 Universe that should feel more betrayed by Cap than Sharon. Either she has something up her sleeve, or she’s gotten weak in her older age. Sharing the same ideals as the real Captain America, it’s hard to believe that she would let herself be apart of this in any way.

secret empire 1 hawkeye

PRO: Hawkeye Steps Up

Readers may not know the specifics of how we got where we were in issue #1, but what we do know is Clint Barton stepped up. Seeing Hawkeye leading the resistance with Black Widow is fantastic. Ever since the events of Civil War II, Clint has been searching for redemption. Leading the underground HYDRA resistance against Captain America should help clear his conscience. A potential Steve Rogers beat down at the hands of Clint Barton? Sign me up!

secret empire 1 frowny cap

CON: Captain Frowny

Readers coming from Nick Spencer’s Captain America: Steve Rogers may be thrown off by the inconsistent characterization. It’s apparent through Secret Empire #1 that Steve has his doubts and regrets about what he’s done and is doing. What happened to the cold-blooded killer that chucked Red Skull out of a window? If this is meant to build sympathy for Steve Rogers, it isn’t working, no matter how frowny you make his face.

secret empire 1 rick jones

PRO: Rick Jones Goes Out Like A Champ

The death of Rick Jones was a major happening in this issue, leaving many fans unhappy. Regardless of how you feel about his demise, Rick Jones went out like a total bad-ass. Refusing to hail HYDRA, sticking to his patriotic guns, while still believing that Steve Rogers will overcome whatever is happening to him. His “Avengers Assemble” sendoff, facing down a fatal firing squad, will certainly stick as a memorable moment.

secret empire 1 stark

CON: AI Tony

Tony Stark is in a coma, an AI hologram of his consciousness has been mentoring Riri Williams. That’s where AI Tony’s role should end, but here he is operating as the brains of Hawkeye’s HYDRA resistance. If you wanted Stark to sit out a couple rounds after Civil War II, commit to it. How are readers supposed to care about his inevitable return if he never really left? With all the super geniuses in the Marvel universe, Tony Stark’s “drunk” hologram is really the best option to take Cap down?

secret empire 1 capaganda

PRO: “Cap-Aganda”

One of the more fun things about the beginning of Secret Empire #1 is the rewriting of American history by HYDRA. Not only is Captain America’s role completely changed, but many historic events have been adjusted in the name of HYDRA. The opening scene, taking place in a classroom, comes complete with some good old fashioned Captain America propaganda with a HYDRA twist. Little bits like this are just comic book fun, helping to balance out the darker moments that may or may not miss their mark.

What other Pros or Cons did you find in Secret Empire #1? What did you think of the issue? Are you looking forward to Marvel taking a break from major events? Let us know in the comments below!


Brandon J. Griffin
Brandon J. Griffin
New Jersey scum who worships comic books like religious literature. Yell at me on Twitter @griffunk