Secret Empire takes more form as scattered teams of heroes decide to save or assassinate the corrupt Captain America, and the space war rages on.
Secret Empire #2
Cover by Mark Brooks
What happened? With Manhattan cut off from the world by a Darkforce barrier, the Defenders help where they can. But Kingpin uses this crisis to prepare for a power grab when the barrier drops.
Meanwhile, the Resistance heroes try to salvage Las Vegas after Hydra’s attack. Rick Jones managed to get them a message before his execution, outlining how the Cosmic Cube corrupted Steve Rogers. Iron Man wants to save him; Black Widow wants to put him down. So Hawkeye gets a team to hunt for Cube fragments while Black Widow teaches the teen heroes of the Champions how to kill.
And in the shocking epilogue, a mystery man saves a young woman from the Serpent Society. That man? A battle-weary Steve Rogers! How? What? We don’t know!
Was it good? More of a set-up for other stories than a story in and of itself, it was nevertheless entertaining and held most of the tension this event has tried to build.
Recommendation: Yes, even if you don’t read the tie-ins that follow Hawkeye or Black Widow’s missions, you do need to see what the heroes are doing to fight Hydra.
Ultimates 2 #7
Cover by Christian Ward
What happened? Captain Marvel fends off waves of Chitauri attackers while Ultimates teammate America Chavez asks Galactus for help breaking the shield that locks Marvel’s most powerful heroes out of Earth. But Galactus is healing from a cosmic fight and says, essentially, “You made your bed.”
Was it good? Not really. I get that it’s tough out where Captain Marvel is, but this issue didn’t get that point across any better than a couple pages of Secret Empire did. And guest artist Aud Koch’s figures have a mannequin quality that doesn’t fit the outer space setting.
Recommendation: This book was a don’t-miss addition to Civil War II, adding powerful emotional depth. But it feels like just a bloated recap in the current event.
U. S. Avengers #6
Cover by Paco Medina, Juan Vasco, and Jesus Aburtov
What happened? Roberto DaCosta watches the chaos of Steve Rogers’s rise to power, trying to stop it, but Hydra’s Supreme Leader has infiltrated AIM. This means DaCosta’s assistant shoots him, and nanites turn the Red Hulk against his teammates during the Hydra takeover of Washington, DC. And poor Cannonball returns home just in time to explode fighting Chitauri with Captain Marvel out in space.
Was it good? Yes, this feels like the deepening connective tissue Al Ewing’s books do so well. Members of the team get personal stakes in the bigger conflict, and readers get to experience how scary this takeover is.
Recommendation: It’s not essential reading for this summer event, but if you have an extra four bucks, give it a try.
This week does more to show the technical construction of the summer program: the main book follows Captain America’s plan, but tie-ins will show fractured teams in space, in Manhattan, trying to save Cap’s soul, and plotting to kill him. Check back here as we make more sense of which tie-ins you’ll need to follow along!