Secret Empire: May 2017 – The Main Event

(I didn’t like how I did this the first time, it felt a little cluttered. SPOILER ALERT: I will try my best but I can’t promise 100% spoiler free content)

April gave us one issue of Secret Empire, May is giving us 3! Talk about overload (Not that I’m complaining, I’m loving Secret Empire). The story is already proving to be complex (And confusing, truth be told) and the more it unravels the more intense it is becoming. Let’s get started on reviewing!


Secret Empire: Free Comic Book Day

  • The Assault on Washington has begun! Our Heroes are trying desperately to hold back the waves of villains. Things are just about holding together.
  • However, the arrival of Captain America leaves the heroes rightfully shocked. The tide quickly turns against them as the big hitters are taken out of action and the group are soon overwhelmed.
  • Captain America’s final pose suggests the impossible: What he is doing is… Right…

Though this came after Secret Empire #1, it is technically set before, I think, judging by the fact that #0 had all the heroes not trapped in space or Manhattan heading to Washington DC. This issue maintains the intensity of #0 seamlessly and offers up a fair bit for such a small page count. My only gripe is that the battle really was very short but I guess that reflects just how quickly the situation changed. Spencer has done a stellar job in such a short space and, to top it all off, it comes free of charge.

Sorrentino illustrates this issue and his style suits the tone tremendously. His art had an edge to it that makes everything feel a little more gritty. I’m also really liking the idea of revolving artists. It should keep things nice and fresh. Brooks‘ cover is fab and this is looking to be the case for every issue. I may even dedicate an entire post once they’re all released because I have yet to be disappointed by one of his covers. All in all, a great free comic (But only if your following the story, it might be a little confusing actually).

  • Story – 8/10
  • Art – 8/10
  • Overall – 8/10



Secret Empire #1

  • The worst has happened. Hydra have taken over and are controlling everything from Education to Public Works.  Weakness must be punished so make sure you comply. At it’s helm: Captain America, Hydra’s greatest agent.
  • Not everyone is bowing to Hydra. The Underground are made up of heroes and civilians resisting this nightmare. They aren’t in the best shape but they are getting by. Just.
  • The Champions cause a situation in Las Vegas whilst trying to bring in someone with important information. The Hydra High Council are far from pleased and push Captain America to take action.
  • Captain America is struggling. His relationship with Sharon is under strain and his role has come with some challenges. However, with careful guidance from Madame Hydra, he asserts his new found authority and orders Las Vegas to be bombed.

Having now pondered it several times, I don’t actually mind the time jump. It is plausible to think that Hydra were able to rise quite so quickly what with such a great strategist at the helm (He is a super soldier, after all). This issue provides a helpful summary of all the “good” Hydra has done whilst in power. It is a lot to take in but the rise of such a regime was never going to be an easy pill to swallow. The Hydra Avengers are awesome mostly because the team has such interesting characters. However, my interest is because it raises some questions over why some of the members are even members (In some cases, the villains’ motives aren’t really a challenge).  Spencer has got something beautifully complex going on and it’s honestly a delight to see it all.

The “Shock” death was actually quite shocking. I knew about it prior to reading but, with context, it bared more symbolism, something I have not previously seen with a comic book death. In addition to that, A.I Stark’s recount of the losses of the Underground left me feeling emotionally raw. The sheer scale for a start was intense and Spencer does a fine job conveying so much emotion in little under 6 panels.

McNiven is on illustrative duties this issue. I’m not overly fond of his style but I do think it portrays the uneasiness of it all rather well. His facial expressions convey great emotion which help carry the plot.

  • Story – 8.5/10
  • Art – 7.5/10
  • Overall – 8/10


Secret Empire #2

  • With Las Vegas in ruins, the Underground attempt to find survivors of the incident. Tensions rise over what should be done. Black Widow takes a firm stand in support of killing Cap whilst others still believe he can be saved. Black Widow breaks away from the Underground but is later joined by the Champions who want to help.
  • The Situation in Manhattan is looking equally dire with the Defenders trying desperately to defend the population from all manners of creatures. Kingpin is helping where he can but with reputation building at the heart of his motives.
  • Scattered Cosmic Cube shards are revealed to be a solution of this nightmare’s undoing. However, both Hydra and the Underground are searching for them. It is a race against time and Captain America has the upper hand.
  • The issue ends with what can only be described as a real curve ball. When I say curve ball, I mean curve ball.

Captain America toughens up a bit more this issue (I found him just a touch whiney in #1) but I do appreciate his personal conflict, more so than when I first read it. Seeing him struggle over issues does adds a little more depth to his turning and is does give me hope that all is not lost on that front. His inability to personally order an air strike on Las Vegas suggests there is something of the Cap we all know and love still inside him. That being said, he isn’t keen to see his empire fall which does make it all the more confusing. Whilst talking about Cap, the reveal at the end definitely raises some interesting questions.

The trouble with the Underground goes a long way in reflecting the state of affairs, all the confusion embodied by their divide. Their desire to find a way to save Cap is inspiring. Despite all Captain America has done, they are still willing to do what they do best: Save people. Black Widow’s stance keeps things interesting, though having the Champions stand by her is a little weird. Thus far, they’ve been opposed to Punching Down as they put it. Desperate times, desperate messages I guess. On the note of the Champions, where in the world is the brilliant moral compass that is Kamala Khan in all this?

Sorrentino takes over art again here and again it is superbly apt. Las Vegas, Manhattan and the Underground’s arguments are given stronger meaning with his illustrations. I’m glad he is part of the carousel of artists, that’s for sure. Reis provides a softer style that suits the tone of the reveal very well.

  • Story – 8/10
  • Art – 8/10
  • Overall – 8/10


Secret Empire #3

  • Hope, the name we shall give the #2 plot twist, provides some information on where exactly it is that they came from. The plot is most definitely thickening on that front.
  • The situation on the other side of the Shield is looking dire. The space-faring heroes attempt to reach out to other alien nations but are chased away. Injured, tired and low on morale, things are not looking good up there.
  • The quest for the shards is going well for Captain America, his Avengers making short work of Namor’s forces. The Underground have yet to even leave the country, Sam Wilson remaining stubborn on his isolated position in all this.
  • Black Widow’s team are hitting bumps in the road, their ideologies making adjustment difficult. To make matters worse, the Punisher is hunting Black Widow down in the good name of Hydra.

The sheer number of perspectives being considered here is exhausting, not going to lie. Though I appreciate Spencer’s efforts in trying to get as much covered each issue as possible, I do feel a little drained trying to keep up. That being said, it was great to see how the cosmic front was doing and I was glad to see that the heavy-hitter wasn’t out of the fight as was suggested in #0. The inclusion of the Punisher promises to make things very thrilling on the Black Widow side of things and I was glad to see Sam Wilson talked about a bit more. I kind of regret not really following his story at all but hopefully it will be fleshed out just enough here.

Sorrentino and Reis again prove to provide a fab contrast. The opposing tones they are illustrating are handled perfectly by their respective styles, though I did confuse Star-lord for Hawkeye whilst Sorrentino was illustrating.

  • Story – 8/10
  • Art – 7.5/10
  • Overall – 7.75/10

I feel like this approach gave each issue a bit more justice in terms of my thoughts. All in all, the first 3 issues indicate this event is going to be one heck of a rollercoaster. It’s safe to say I’m going to be riding this out till the end with pleasure. I will be re-reviewing Secret Empire: Uprising and Doctor Strange #21 (Tomorrow, if I can). Please feel free to leave any questions or thoughts below. Thank you.


10 thoughts on “Secret Empire: May 2017 – The Main Event

  1. I’ve been reading ‘Sam Wilson: Captain America’ since Nick Spencer took over and it’s one of my favorite comics each month. That being said, the two Secret Empire tie-in issues have been particularly exciting! It gives a nice sense of what calls Sam back into action and how a segment of the underground works in the Hydra Nation.

    I’m happy to hear you’re loving Secret Empire too! I am enthralled with the story and all its potential ramifications. This is truly an “event” done right!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think Marvel are releasing a Captain America: Secret Empire trade paper back which I believe includes tie-in issues from both Caps. I’m seriously considering picking it up mostly because I imagine, of all the ongoing series tying in, I believe they will have a serious impact on the story.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. What I’ve liked about the ‘Sam Wilson: Captain America’ Secret Empire stories is they feel important but they aren’t necessary. Does that make sense? When I read them (or what’s in ‘Steve Rogers: Captain America’ too) I feel like I’m reading a story that adds a great dimension to the main narrative in Secret Empire. However, I don’t feel like I’m being manipulated to buy them because I don’t have to read them to understand what’s going on in the Secret Empire main title. So they add something of value but the story works just as well if you don’t read them.

        I respect Nick Spencer for structuring the story that way. I’ve felt that way with the one-shots (which you get 100% of the credit for getting me excited enough to buy) too. They add something fun but I don’t “have to” read them. I respect having that choice as a reader with limited funds for comic book buying.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I do appreciate it when ongoing series tie-in but can stand alone as separate stories. It means existing readers can still enjoy the book without having to buy event book.

          I’ve ended up getting just about everything with the Secret Empire banner so that includes all the one-shots and now Brave New World (The latter was an ongoing personal conflict but I ultimately buckled). Nick Spencer is doing a wonderful job, to say the least.

          Liked by 1 person

              1. Annnnd now I’ll save my buying decision for that too!

                Also, I really enjoyed the point you made above about the Champions. I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly bothered me about their going along with Natasha’s plan so quickly and completely but you nailed it perfectly. It seems completely antithetical to their no punching down/fix the mess the adult heroes made of the world philosophy. While I’m enjoying watching them wrestle with where they are in all of this, I do find their choices to be a bit counter to their characters. Thanks for expressing it so perfectly.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. I think that’s the only bit I’m uncertain on. It just doesn’t sit well with me to see a team that has tried to do things properly do something like this.

                  On the note of the Champions, I’m glad to see their membership has seemingly gone up. The inclusion of the likes of Ironheart, Falcon and the Wasp are most definitely welcome sites. I just hope Secret Empire doesn’t break the team too much that their membership is short lived.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. They just jumped on board with Natasha’s plan with apparently no questions or qualms too which was just weird. But I’m with you! I love Ironheart, Falcon, and Wasp being with them too. It’s great in a narrative sense (in allowing them to tell a broader range of stories with more characters) and powerful in a symbolic sense (their message is resonating with others and they’re growing as a result of it).

                    While there’s no predicting the end of a story as twisty and layered as this, if there’s one group to come out of something like Secret Empire with their hope (and team!) intact, I’d bet on the Champions. With a larger roster they could spotlight different heroes and different combos each month too!

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. The September Solicitations suggest some interesting repercussions for the young heroes (As well as the rest of the MU, I’m most interested to see what happens to Steve). I just hope the team can pull through, they have been pushing such a great message and I would hate to see it collapse.


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