Secret Empire #0 Review: Hydra Has Its Day


Hydra takes control in this essential prelude to the summer event, Secret Empire. Find out how Captain America betrayed us all!

Secret Empire #0
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Daniel Acuna with prologue art by Rod Reis
Published by Marvel Comics

For months, Hydra has subtly infiltrated the Marvel Universe, beginning with Captain America’s cosmic rewrite in Avengers Standoff. Now retconned as a secret Hydra agent, one of Marvel’s greatest heroes coordinates a hideous global takeover. And Nick Spencer’s prelude issue pulls out the stops for a summer event of action, tension, and pain.

Expect a full recap tomorrow in the first installment of Bam Smack Pow’s Secret Empire roundup column. But for now, the nonspoiler plot of the issue is that Steve Rogers’s secret Hydra plans come to fruition. By coordinating chaotic events around the globe, he spreads the superheroes thin and exiles his biggest threats. So now he has the immunity to go public and break a lot of hearts.

In a year where American politics has seen major, frightening shifts, Nick Spencer’s political commentary in the Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson books has validated my fears. The Internet has some valid concerns about the use of Nazi analogues in this corruption of America’s premiere hero. I have read many of these, and I don’t disagree. But to me, it’s fine to put heroes up against Nazis. Make sure they’re the bad guys, and I’m ready to read.

And fascist corruption of American iconography? Doesn’t feel that far off from a Make America Great Again cap.

I’m not saying Republicans are Nazis. That’s a clumsy generalization. And I don’t think Spencer is saying that either. He’s saying Americans feel scared this year. Scared as Hell. That the largely-liberal comics audience feels betrayed by the powers in government. And he’s setting up a story where our heroes get to fight an unapologetically wicked force. We’re done with Iron Man punching Captain Marvel. And I’m willing to give up my Captain America for the sake of an important story like this one.