Secret Empire #2 review: Hydra, brought to you by Netflix!


Hydra keeps Marvel’s heroes separated, but his week, they plan their counterattacks. It’s a tense issue, but did it have to pretend to be a Netflix episode?

Secret Empire #2
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Andrea Sorrentino with Rod Reis
Published by Marvel Comics

Cover by Mark Brooks

After the devastating setup in the first two issues, Nick Spencer gets this summer crossover going this week. Heroes splintered into tiny factions defend beleaguered Manhattan and avenge Las Vegas. And the revelation of Steve Rogers’s secret origin splits the Resistance along the deep divide of Cure Him or Kill Him.

The moral debate of saving or killing Hydra Cap feels right for this story, and I look forward to the side adventures of the teams pursuing each of the options. As much as Spencer’s bigger story has connected to my terror at the corruption of my country, I like knowing that in the Marvel Universe, they have options I don’t about how to save the future.

The epilogue shocker, featuring the puzzling return of a long-lost hero, hits the right emotional beat. I have no idea how this gets folded into the rest of Secret Empire, but I’m on board.

The main problem I have with this story, though, is the Manhattan subplot. I loved Batman’s No Man’s Land story, and the idea of keeping the peace in a ruined city appeals to me, but the choice to use exclusively heroes with Netflix or Freeform shows feels like a cheap cash-grab. I don’t like the Netflix shows, and to see them shaping my comic canon is understandable but hard to take, especially in a story about outside corruptions.

The change in art to Sorrentino this issue continues the visual themes from the Free Comic Book Day story, and the supremely creative panel layouts dazzle, but the heel-turn from McNiven’s grounded lines of the first issues hurts the storytelling.

Next: Catch up on Secret Empire #1!

The Bottom Line

This story still works, and the ethical debate among the Resistance heroes feels earned, but this issue was more of a guidepost to the tie-ins than a story in its own right.