Marvel’s Secret Empire Begins – Robert’s Big Review
So Marvel’s Secret Empire Begins in the following comics that have come out over the last few weeks & this weekends Free Comic Book Day: Secret Empire #0, Secret Empire #1, Secret Empire FCBD issue. Along with important ties in: Steve Rogers: Captain America #16, Thunderbolts #12 & US Avengers #5.
NOTICE: SPOILERS are next. If you haven’t read Marvel’s Secret Empire & don’t want to be spoiled with anything then leave now.
SECRET EMPIRE – Issues #0, #1 & FCBD quick summary
Alright then, let’s JUMP right into this.
Right. Let’s start with Secret Empire Issue #0. This is where this SHIT literally hits the SHIELD & MARVEL UNIVERSE fan. Yes, the fandom has known about Steve Rogers / Captain America as apart of Hydra for ages now in his own title but now all his planning his coming to fruition. This is it. We start with the big reveal that World War II was won with the use of the original Cosmic Cube by changing reality. To keep Captain America from changing, Hydra sends him / his consciousness forward to his current self (timeframe not clear here) but forward enough to not be changed by the Cosmic Cube. Right. Next up, the Chitari start a wave of attacks on the Earth which leads to all the space faring heroes to go up into space just outside the Earth to defend it. Now Virtual Tony Stark / Iron Man & Riri Williams / Iron Heart are working on trying to get the new Earth Shield up before the Chitari attack. While this is happening, a number of villains start to break out and attack the streets of New York where more of Earth’s heroes gather to fight back. Cut back to the Chitari attack outside Earth, the new Quasar gets eaten by one of those Chitari monsters we save in the first Avengers movie. Next up, the villain Nitro does his thing again and NUKES a small part of New York and Jessica Jones with him (although she’s not dead because they have an upcoming new Defenders series with her after this event). BOOM goes a big part of New York and those heroes.
Now this action sets in motion the big part of Steve’s plan, the US President gives Steve full control of the military. Steve then rally’s ALL the heroes with a heroic speech. Just then the world shield goes online & the Chitari wave die crashing into it. Also in New York, the remaining villains suddenly start to disappear and JUST then & while SHIELD agents are cheering for the world shield to go online… another SHIELD helicarrier crashing into & boards the main SHIELD helicarrier / base with Hydra agents PLUS mind altering commands from Dr Faustus, a Hydra villain and apart of the new Hydra council. This mind attack starts turning SHIELD agents into the Hydra cause and cuts down on any SHIELD agents getting killed during the attack. Both Iron Man & Iron Heart notice that they have no control over the world shield from where they were trying to fix it, as if it was never broken to begin with. Just as the main bridge of SHIELD helicarrier is about to be attacked by Hydra, Captain America tells everyone to stand down as a command from the Hydra Supreme Leader. Since almost everyone is now under Dr Faustus Hydra command, they do. Only Sharon is left there completely shocked at the turn of events and what Steve has done. The last moments of the issue have Steve telling Carol, Captain Marvel & all the heroes in space that they won’t be turning off the world shield, they won’t let the heroes back in AND that they have the Chitari Queen so the Chitari will keep coming in waves after waves from around the universe to save her. They are left on their own with limited supplies on their space station. The final scene has Baron Zemo driving Blackout to New York where they use the Darkhold (book of Dark Black Magicks) & Blackouts power trapping all of New York, it’s residents & especially the HEROES in a bubble of Darkforce dimension darkness.
Let’s jump to Secret Empire FCBD (Free Comic Book Day) issue & I’ll explain why.
Next up, we have the Secret Empire Free Comic Book Day issue which is the big battle against Hydra Steve Rogers / Captain America and the remaining heroes who weren’t stuck outside the world shield OR in New York’s Darkforce bubble. During this battle – three key heroes FALL. Jane Foster Thor, she just drops the hammer for some unknown reason. The Vision goes all binary & likely offline (although we see him in issue #1) & the Scarlet Witch (who has reality bending powers). Then, the heroes attack, the fight, the scenes are nice and pacing is well done all leading up to one thing – the heroes fall as Steve Rogers / Captain America picks up Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer, claiming that he is worthy.
Now WHY am I talking about this BEFORE Secret Empire #1 as it came out on Free Comic Book Day, a few days after Issue #1 hit the stores? Well because the story is OBVIOUSLY a moment in time BEFORE issue #1 and the very FIRST time the remaining heroes tried to defeat Captain America and FAILED.
Again. Steve Rogers / Captain America picks & claims Mjolnir. Let that soak in for a bit.
Next up Secret Empire Issue #1.
Some time in the future, we are following how it is to be living in the new Hydra America. We see inhuman parents being taken by Hydra and childen being brainwashed to pledge allegiance to Hydra in schools. This is where we learn about “The Great Illusion” that the allied forces in World War II made everyone forget that they lost the war but now the world is back on track, especially America and all thanks to Captain America & Hydra. Aww… how sweet. 😛
Next we follow one kid who has something important that Hydra agents are after him, he’s pulled off the streets of Las Vegas by The Awesome Hulk & what remains of the Champions and other heroes as the new hero “Underground”. They save Rayshaun Lucas from evil Hydra Dreadnaughts (killer bots) then taken away to the hidden base under the leadership of Hawkeye, Clint Barton. At the same time, we keep seeing recordings from a desperate Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel up in space calling for help given the waves and waves of Chitari they keep fighting with little to no supplies and a space station running out of air.
Next up we see Captain America in some limited action, telling a big villainous monster to stand down before his Avengers put it down. Of course, being all villainy, it spits back at Cap so down it goes by an attack of the new Hydra Avengers of Odinson, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Taskmaster, Black Ant and Superior Spider-Man. OH and Deadpool because WHY wouldn’t he join them? Next a TV broadcast shows the good the Hydra Council members are doing in the world, the cutting down of crime in America, various new treaties being signed with the help of Hive & the Gorgon, Hydra Works under Armin Zola are creating new jobs in America, Dr. Faustus controlling the stock market for the betterment of Hydra and the world and then speaking of the Day of Reckoning where all traitors to Hydra are publicly executed. This leads to the Hydra Council having it out with Captain America for not having the balls to be more aggressive against the heroes underground and the threat of the remaining mutants in California. Of course, all this pisses off Captain America as he’s being questioned by the Council. Steve then goes to see Rick Jones, who was captured after he leaked secret information about Hydra plans, information they haven’t gotten back yet and likely in the hands of the heroes underground movement. Steve pleads with Rick to recant and join him in Hydra. Of course, Rick says NO which has Steve walking away with his head down.
Back in the Heroes Underground movement, we get to see the place through Rayshaun’s eye as he’s taken to “the Drunk” aka the virtual Tony Stark who’s busy working on today’s problem to give the secret information from Rick Jones any thought because he’s LOST his motivation that anything new can change the new world they’re all living in.
Switch back to Captain America who needs a pep talk from Madam Hydra to remind him that HE is the Supreme Leader not the Council and he needs to show his control. Of course, this leads to the death of Rick Jones by shooting squad and Hydra carriers starting massive attacks on various cities to show force against the heroes Underground movement.
Not. A mention about Thor’s hammer.
SECRET EMPIRE – WHAT I LOVED
Secret Empire Issue #0 hits the ground running and it’s a great read. Especially when you KNOW Captain America is Hydra and are awaiting for the moment that everything turns upside down on it’s head. The pacing is there, the build up to the big moment and the various villainous moments against all the heroes we know and love go off like perfect fireworks. This issue had a movie-like quality and I don’t say that because of the usage of the Chitari. The action and reactions of all involved, from Captain America’s face to Sharon’s discovery of Steve being Hydra to the look of Captain Marvel when the world shield won’t be turned off. When Captain America reveals his Hydra plan to the heroes. Lastly, the scene of Baron Zemo & Blackout riding a boat into New York to trap those heroes was all very well done. Hit action. High rewards. Hydra stands tall in the end.
Secret Empire FCBD Issue reminded me of a music video. Why a music video? Because music videos were made to quickly have a short story matching to key moments in a single song – scenes needed to hit the mark with the music and that’s exactly what I thought with this issue. The pacing is wicked fast, if you miss a panel, you miss some key point and it all seemed to be almost rushing itself along but in a good way. The action is fast & furious racing along to the big reveal that gets all the OOOHS & AAAAH from the Geek fandom that it should. IF ANYONE could pick up Thor’s hammer, it’s Captain America. But SHOULD it be Hydra Steve Rogers / Captain America? Great question to leave hanging on a cliff hanger.
Secret Empire Issue #1 felt awkward but in a good way. It reminded me of the show “The Man in High Castle” and there are some major similarities, especially in the Council and the “resistance” / “underground” movement. The action scenes are good but quick but that’s NOT what this issue was about. This wasn’t the big hit / punch issue, it was a mix of that with a greater portion of slow burn. The calculations, the back stabbing that’s beginning, the greed, the power of what need to be done, what is right, what is wrong and at this point in the new Hydra America, which is which?
Key moments in all issues so far:
- The Awesome Hulk trashes Vegas. Vegas has ZERO luck with Hulks. Like. Ever. Nice touch.
- Rick Jones aka The Whisperer aka their Wikileaks in the Marvel Universe being the one to spark a chance of hope. Rebellions were built on hope!
(Come on, I HAD to use that line!!). Nice touch given Rick Jones past with both Captain America & The Avengers.
- The mystery about HOW Jane Foster Thor loses her hammer NOT being explained was interesting and left to build upon. Nice.
- Hawkeye / Clint Barton running the heroes Underground. Given Clint’s past with Captain America, this makes total sense. Again, well done!
- Virtual Tony Stark being broken & just “the mechanic” now for the heroes Underground movement. Good place to have Tony before he returns to his human body and likely new Iron Man armor.
- Dr. Faustus brainwashing the SHIELD agents when they attack to lessen any killing. Shows the compassion that Captain America still has within him which will be important by the series end, I’m sure.
- Madam Hydra constantly fighting Dr. Strange to keep New York in the Darkforce dimension. I like the someone is matching Strange during this time and he’s not being written out given the power he CAN wield.
- Hive talks in all crazy icons but the Council and Steve understand him. Love that. No further explanations needed.
- Bucky / Winter Solider comes across & saves Kobik then finds out about Captain America as apart of Hydra. His fate is a mystery as we see Baron Zemo strapping Bucky to a rocket and launching it against the allies in World War 2.
- Captain Marvel has been building a massive Shield to help defend the Earth from any future alien invasion.
- In the US Avengers comic – Roberto Da Costa has control / owns A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics) working for him. A.I.M. A.I.M.’s origins began late in World War II with Baron Wolfgang von Strucker’s creation of his subversive organization Hydra. A.I.M.’s greatest accomplishment was the Cosmic Cube. Let’s just say, US Avengers & Roberto Da Costa are fncked! (more on A.I.M. here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Idea_Mechanics)
Overall I’m VERY happy with where the series is going (despite having “event burnout”) and I’m looking forward to where this series goes!
SECRET EMPIRE – YEAHBUWHA?!
What made me shake my head & Say “YEAHBUWHA?!” and there’s LOTS but let’s focus on FOUR major points:
1. The Time Jump in Secret Empire Issue #1.
So WHEN is this issue supposed to take place? One year later? Two years? 6 months? Does it matter? Well, for me, it does as I fncking HATE when a story doesn’t given definitive timelines. Making a story vague on such is what I feel sloppy writing because it allows for filler later if / when they might need to change something due to the fan backlash or outcry. Have set times, have the balls to say it’s a year later and don’t go back on that. Move forward. Right or wrong.
2. Were Gorgon, Viper & Hive off for a coffee?
During Secret Empire Issue #0 – Dr. Faustus offers mind control / brainwashing. Zola likely controlled the world shield, Baron Zemo gathered the heroes and likely planned them leaving then bringing Blackout to do the bubble on New York while Madam Hydra fights Dr. Strange to keep them trapped. What did Gorgon, Viper & Hive do? WHY weren’t they apart of the grand plan? *shrugs* Three POWERFUL Hydra Council members and they did NOTHING in all three issues but bitch at Captain America in issue #1. #Yawn
Okay. Joking with that. Kinda, here’s my real #2…
2. Why Rayshaun Lucas?
Of ALL of the Marvel Comic Book Universe, WHY did we need another Event Comic Book Series introduce us to ANOTHER young character?? I just don’t understand. It’s time like this when I wonder if ANYONE at Marvel has EVER read ANY older comic book EVER? Why can’t you use a character from ANY of the other comic books before? Why does this need to be a new kid character and why always just a kid? Why couldn’t it have been some 30 year old woman who was Rick Jones contact? Why couldn’t it have been any character that the Hulk, Bruce Banner, had run into in ANY of his comic books. As Bruce wandering the Earth, he ran into a TON of regular people who aren’t new. I’m fncking tired of this in a comic book universe that is SO vast and always re-doing this stupid story trope.
3. Secret Empire #1 Awkwardness
Yes I did say I liked the awkwardness but at the same time, part of me doesn’t like that in what’s being noted as the 1st issue of a major event series. Now that said, I feel that issue #1 reads and feels like it’s really issue #2 and if that’s the case then fine. The numbering is nothing but marketing bullshit that I hate just to lure in the sales.
4. Secret Empire Ending
Now I did praise the series but I am worried about ONE MAJOR point – The ENDING. Wait. Why am I worried now? Because right now is good time to wonder if you SHOULD continue to invest your time in reading this series and it’s smart to point out the failure of past event books. Fingers crossed that Nick Spencer can pull of a decent ending. Marvel has FAILED at all their big event book endings since the 1st Civil War series. Now I’m NOT talking the outcome from such events but the actual final issues and wrap up have all ended poorly and without a good, satisfying ending. All of them have been muted, muddy or just pain fncking stupid.
I don’t have much that I didn’t like about the Secret Empire series so far. I DO NOT HATE IT – I’m not going down the road of all the crazy Nazi themes that people themselves are echoing onto the series. Is Hydra a fascist regime in the comic books now – HELL YEAH! They’re the bad guys but they’re NOT Nazi’s. If you see that it’s because YOU WANT TO SEE THAT, Hater! I’m also not getting into the whole fact that Steve holding Mjolnir in the air is a shocking image because again – that fuels those white supremacists who have co-opted Norse iconography.
SECRET EMPIRE – PREDICTIONS
What I believe could be some possible heroic outcomes…
1. The Cosmic Cube returns
Reality has to be changed back so the Cosmic Cube / Kobik has to return in some form.
2. Dr. Doom bring The Fantastic Four back
Dr. Doom finds Molecular Man and together they find Reed Richard who is the only one who can bring the Cosmic Cube / Kobik back if not return the Marvel Universe back to the way it was. Aka leading directly into Marvel Legacy where all the old heroes return including The Fantastic Four. Also the foreshadowing for this is in issue #0 with the young heroes using the Fantasticar & Ben Grimm, the Thing.
3. Thor Odinson Returns
To save the world, Steve gives Odinson back Mjolnir as the big turning point to bring the Thor that’s been gone for so long back.
4. Baron Zemo becomes Supreme Leader
Once Hydra falls because of course, they have to for Secret Empire to end, Zemo will make his move. A move that will happen with major vile after Captain America turns on his best friend to save the world and be good again. Baron Zemo could be raised to Red Skull like levels of bad ass during and after this.
5. The Inhumans Return
Just in time to help and save the space faring heroes outside the Earth.
New more references? Try Secret Empire on Wikipedia:
All things Marvel Secret Empire here on Comixology:
SECRET EMPIRE – HOW, WHAT, WHY?!
Wait. Are you confused about Secret Empire and the new Captain Hydra aka Steve Rogers formerly Captain America? He’s apart of Hydra? They’re taking over the Marvel Universe (well, America’s Earth – for now)? How did this happen? What happened? Why?
Good questions. Let’s get some answers for you as briefly as possible.
Prequel time – during a run of Captain America, he was zapped to the future & when he returned, he was OLD. Like OLD MAN Captain America, he didn’t have the serum or just enough to keep him from turning to dust & the fit body of a 50 year old but looking like he’s at least 70. Okay. That happened so Steve Rogers offered Captain America title, costume & most importantly, the shield to his friend, Sam Wilson aka the Falcon. If you’ve watched ANY of the Captain America movies, you know who I’m talking about. Yes, Sam became Captain America while Steve just was Steve for a while in a different look & feel yet still helping the heroes and especially S.H.I.E.L.D.
Okay. Next up we have a small event called Avengers: Standoff where Maria Hill of S.H.I.E.L.D. decided to capture and use the Cosmic Cube to change villains into regular, different people and had them living out new lives in the mysterious gated community of Pleasant Hill. How Maria Hill managed to do this was via Kobik who is the Cosmic Cube now reformed as a young girl. Kobik changed reality to allow this to happen. Now, enter when Avengers start investigating, it all breaks down and goes to shit. Villains revert & Kobik, who is the Cosmic Cube now reformed as a young girl, gets taken by none other than the Red Skull while escaping.
(read more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avengers:_Standoff!)
During Nick Spencer’s Steve Rogers: Captain America run, it’s come out that Steve Rogers past shows that he was always apart of Hydra and his best friend is Baron Zemo. Now, WHY is Steve Rogers past now showing that he’s apart of Hydra? Well, remember that the Red Skull has Kobik & convinces her to change reality. At first, you believe this reality change was JUST upon Steve Rogers / Captain America himself as you only see it from that perspective during Nick Spencer’s Steve Rogers: Captain America run. Not true, what happened is that Red Skull had Kobik change reality so including the fact that Captain America has been apart of Hydra all along, the Nazi’s WON the war BUT the allied forces used the Cosmic Cube to change that reality so they won. Okay. So that’s how we have Steve Rogers / Captain America as the ultimate Hydra agent & during the comic book run up to Secret Empire, Steve was planning a few things. 1. Capture Dr. Erik Selvig & start making plans to kill Red Skull then take over the Hydra Supreme Leader. 2. Help Madam Hydra in getting her assets for his plan. Madam Hydra gathers a new Hydra Council 3. Save & release Baron Zemo, his best friend, to rally the villains to work for Hydra, which he does.
Also due to the tragic events of Avengers: Standoff & Civil War II, Steve Rogers / Captain America becomes the new Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Some loose bits:
Right. I think that pretty much sets up everything for Secret Empire. Click here to go back up to the top and read our review: Marvel’s Secret Empire Begins – Our Review.