Here we are, six issues into the controversy juggernaut event that is Secret Empire. If you have the ability to remove yourself from your own ass and enjoy comic books, you’re probably still reading this Marvel crossover. In Secret Empire #6, Captain Hydra makes the remaining heroes pay huge emotional tolls.
***SPOILERS LIE AHEAD***
Steve Rogers leads his Hostage Avengers against the underground resistance facility where cosmic cube shards are being held. The scattered remaining heroes juggle and debate their options in how to stop Hydra.
There’s a ton going on in this book. Major reveals, betrayal, crisis, and unlikely alliances make this a hearty serving. I understand event fatigue and the evil that Marvel represents to everybody, but Secret Empire is highly effective toy box fun.
Writer Nick Spencer has been getting a ton of grief. I’m not here to talk about what anyone says on twitter, I’m here to talk about comic books and those who create them. Spencer and company have been delivering with Secret Empire.
In the “flash-sideways” bits (LOST fans understand) Red Skull reveals to Bearded Steve that they’re in hell and he brought him there. There’s a theme throughout this issue, paying your dues. There’s no more sweeping of things under rugs. Hawkeye has this revelation facing a resurrected Banner down as he rips through their defenses.
Comic books are at their best when they’re entrenched in mystery. Slow burning plot points that drive people crazy are signs of an effective effort to lay plot out and play with the pieces you have during their journey alongside readers to get to the end.
Thor’s big moment, letting Hawkeye and his fleeing survivors go, was huge for the story. Can he now break whatever control Steve has? Or will he be the next victim? Either way, he was MVP this issue.
Ant-Man coming clean as Hydra’s rat didn’t get much room to breath. The reveal was shocking but lead directly into Hulk’s attack.
Black Widow and her Red Room cadets are likely going to be the focus next issue. Widow still isn’t willing to explore other routes to stopping Steve. Killing him is the only option. The scene with her and Miles, Spencer comments on two generations without making it political (because Twitter hates that).
Daredevil and Doctor Strange’s efforts to save NY are brief. The exchange between Horn Head and Kingpin was a highlight but these sub plots are clearly for tie-ins.
Nick Spencer is doing a splendid job maintaining all these wheels he has turning. There’s a lot to break down after every issue and it’s rare that the wrong thing gets too much focus. My only complaint is that Steve has Thor’s hammer but we haven’t seen it outside of that one recycled panel. Is it only for leverage? There are a lot of questions tied to that beautiful chunk of Uru.
The art team carries a large load as well in juggling this huge cast of characters and making them all feel real. There’s chaos and peril on almost every page, every emotion is clear and clean. The action is top notch and never really messy. Every shot in this book is perfectly executed and no panels are wasted.
Knowing that this is the final chapter of Marvel Now! before we get to the Legacy era, the chaos presented should be applauded. Spencer is sending off this frustrating and confusing time in Marvel comics with a huge bang. Blow it all up before everything reverts back to the classic feel everybody is so desperate for.
Secret Empire #6 is another fine installment in the story that’s legitimately shaken Marvel to its core. There are some very deep lines drawn in the sand and plenty of mystery left to unfold. This is what I wanted from a Civil War II and it’s funny that Spencer mentions that dumpster fire a number of times in this. The only thing making CWII carry any relevance is Spencer tying up the loose ends.