I haven’t regularly been reading a lot of current day Marvel Comics. Make mine old school trades! On Free Comic Book Day, the gang at Third Eye Comics suggested I try out Secret Empire #0 and #1. Secret Empire has been one of the more heavily hyped Marvel events — until the next one — for a while. Did it live up to the hype?
My review of both follows, but Marvel Comics released a trailer about the big event:
It’s been building for months, across a bevy of titles! It’s time to stand together against Hydra and the forces of evil, but how can the heroes of the Marvel Universe cope with this shattering betrayal by the most trusted figure among them? And what will this mean for the world?
It’s the story that has shocked the world. Captain America is an Agent of Hydra?! Now – superstar creators Nick Spencer, Daniel Acuna, Steve McNiven, Andrea Sorrentino, Rod Reis, Leinil Yu, and more, bring you the most ground shaking Marvel saga ever – SECRET EMPIRE! Available now in comic stores everywhere, Marvel is pleased to present a special trailer devoted to the devastating first arc of this blockbuster series!
Secret Empire #0
Secret Empire #0 outlines how the now Hydra corrupted Captain America put the finishing touches on Hydra’s ultimate victory. Writer Nick Spencer has one yet to be revealed Marvel hero reflect on the events leading to Cap’s ultimate betrayal.
Not that anyone thought the good guys wouldn’t win, but the glimpse back storytelling method is an interesting approach. The mysterious hero doesn’t spill too many details, but it creates this impatience about wanting to know how it ended.
But as a behind the scenes look at a villain’s big win, this is an entertaining read. With the Fantastic Four gone and the X-Men’s role drastically reduced, the Marvel superhero community seems much smaller. To some extent that makes it much easier for Captain America to maneuver all the pieces in place, but it still makes for an engaging read.
Daniel Acuna’s art further helps the story. His paint like style is so unique and makes for such an atypical visual presentation. Hopefully Acuna will be one of the recurring artists in Secret Empire going forward.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Secret Empire #1
As a longtime old school comic book reader, I tend to get irritated when the movies/TV influence the comic books. Hawkeye’s costume downgrade was one thing, but some other changes have been more annoying. In a rare bit of comic/TV synergy, Secret Empire #1 plays out a lot like the Agents of Hydra arc going on in Agents of SHIELD.
This isn’t necessarily a case of AOS doing it better because it arrived first, but Secret Empire just feeling too similar to other reality/character warped storylines like Welcome to Pleasant Hill and Secret Wars (2015). That’s been a go-to storytelling device from Marvel over the last few years and it doesn’t play out as fresh or groundbreaking as it once did.
Secret Empire #1 has an interesting setup as Hydra now has reshaped the world largely in its image. Captain America is the Supreme Leader with Baron Zemo, Hive and Viper among his council. Despite this Cosmic Cube altered reality, the Avengers are still a force and in hiding.
If Hydra has the power to enslave the world taking out the heroes seems like the only priority. Spencer writes Hydra’s agenda like they’ll deal with the Avengers, Defenders and Champions when they get around to it. This seems a lazy way to set up the eventual heroic comeback.
Steve McNiven handles the art for this issue. McNiven’s artwork isn’t at the same movie like quality as it was for Civil War, but the composition and character expressions are still solid.
Like a lot of Marvel events the story will unfold in various tie-ins, but the pacing of this issue suggests the main book is going to have a very slow burn. That doesn’t make for the most compelling argument not to just wait on the trade or at least for a few more issues to get a more complete story.
Rating: 6 out of 10
Image Credit: Marvel Comics