This is it. The last issue in what I can honestly describe as my favourite Marvel event of all time, an epic that I hope goes down in history as a series that dared to ask the question: What would you do if the single most trusted figure in the world turned out to be something you weren’t expecting? Honestly, I am genuinely saddened to see Secret Empire come to an end as it has really challenged me to think about what I would do and can do to challenge the evils we face.
Omega sees Steve Rogers confront the man who has been masquerading as him for the past year. In Hydra Cap, Steve Rogers has to deal with everything he has sworn to challenge. They discuss at length the impact Hydra Cap has had on those around him, complimented by snapshot looks at the likes of Hawkeye, Bucky and the Punisher, all victims of Hydra Cap’s reign. Steve Rogers leaves him incarcerated, vowing to stop Hydra Cap if he so much as breathes outside his cell.
Where to begin… Having looked at this issue in depth, there is some much to discuss. The exchange between Hydra Cap and Steve Rogers was wonderfully intense. It’s probably best to break it down from each perspective as they are both deserving of examination.
First, Steve Rogers. This issues sees him staring at a mirror image of himself, a figure who has wrought so much destruction under the guise of Captain America. He has demolished a legacy spanning decades and Steve Rogers is rightfully frustrated. He is having to deal with a nation scared of a man who carries its name, something that would break a normal man. Not only are the people scared of him but Steve is going through a period of personal doubt, almost hatred, that honestly adds an interesting element to his character. I find some solace in this, actually, because if Captain America is able to doubt and hate himself sometimes than perhaps its okay for ordinary people to do so too?
This carries more weight when we consider how Steve reacts to the problems at hand: confronting it head on in effective and meaningful ways with the aim of regaining the trust of the people and, in doing so, healing his internal wounds. Steve Rogers has never been a character I’ve never been super interested in but I’ve connected with this aspect more than I care to admit. Some self-exploration is in order me thinks…
On the opposite side of the table, the issue explores what drives Hydra Cap. He believes he is Steve Rogers, a man who wanted to restore the world to a glorious reality that he believes to be the truth. In some respects, it does evoke a sense of sympathy (A somewhat peculiar notion when considering what he has overseen). All he wanted was his world back, even if that world is one the rest of the universe isn’t familiar with. He believed that what he was doing was right and true and that, moreover, it was something that the people wanted, demonstrated by the support he receives. It raises the question that, if the time comes where the people must choose between Steve Rogers and Hydra Cap, who will they side with?
I imagine some can relate this to certain scenarios in the real world and honestly, it is really hard not to. Hydra Cap can be linked strongly to certain individuals and it does scare me to think that people have actually sided with them in a way that now sees them in positions of immense power. I am aware that Secret Empire as a whole has been a sort of metaphor for current events but honestly, it is something that does need to addressed and (arguably) tackled head on. Food for thought undoubtedly.
Aside from Captain America, this issue also explored a number of heroes directly linked to Hydra Cap’s atrocities. The first was the funeral of Black Widow. Honestly, I’m still processing how I felt about the whole thing but it was interesting to see the impact she had on certain individuals and the tease for the Tale of Suspense 5-part series was relatively interesting. Not my favourite snap shot but not a rubbish one by any means.
The second focused on the dissolution of New Tian. I really liked the idea of New Tian so this one piqued my interest a little more. There is a great side comment about the inappropriate nature of using Sentinels to destroy New Tian which is about the most amusing thing in the entire scenario. Mutants get a really bad rap and Emma Frost seems to have taken it the worst. She’ll be an unsung hero for her people, an admirable quality but somewhat difficult to deal to accept.
The final snapshot was by far the one that interested me most. The Punisher was drawn into Hydra Cap’s plans as Frank Castle has nothing but respect for Steve Rogers. Despite committing many awful acts, the Punisher is really struggling to come to terms with all he did for Hydra, seemingly launching a personal war against any and all Hydra agents he can get his hands on. The Punisher is a character I’m in two minds about most of the time but I do feel like he is going to be an interesting man to follow in the coming months. I don’t really intend to follow the title but I may pick up a trade down the line.
This issues contains art from a variety of people. The bulk of the book is illustrated by Sorrentino who, on this occasion (I have moaned a bit about him being overused but, in all honesty, the times he has been on art it has been excellent), was most definitely the right choice for the difficult conversation between Cap and Hydra Cap. His slightly darker style really adds to the atmosphere of the situation, the whole sequence coming alive as a result. The remaining story is covered by a number of artists including Bennett and Rosenberg, all of whom cover their sections masterfully.
Overall, a conclusion that brings Secret Empire to close on a high note. It raises some interesting questions about the future of some characters and adds some fresh depth to Hydra Cap (Not that he’s a simple character). I intend to tie up Secret Empire with a big finale post soon(ish) but for now, this is the end of a story that has challenged the very core of the Marvel Universe in brave and exciting ways. Next: Marvel Legacy!
- Story – 10/10
- Art – 10/10
- Overall – 10/10
Writing this review has raised some serious questions about the real impact Secret Empire has actually had on me as a reader. I’m beginning to feel it was more profound than I originally thought, so much so that I’m going to have revisit the story and mull it over. I know this sounds a bit weird, heck I think it’s a bit weird, but I’m not entirely sure I’m ready to close the door on Secret Empire as it has raised some questions about who I am as a person, something I’m not overly familiar with when reading comics. I won’t be going overboard but I may have to do some thematic looks at the story now I have all the issues I intend to own. Regardless of all this, it has at least left me with lots to dwell on…