Secret Empire #3 review: Nick Spencer delivers laughs and chills


Nick Spencer gets back to the tension and action his summer crossover had been doing so well, and he finds time to dip back to his dark comedy roots!

Secret Empire #3 (of 10)
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Andrea Sorrentino and Rod Reis
Published by Marvel Comics

Cover by Mark Brooks

Hydra’s search for Cosmic Cube fragments leads to war with Atlantis this week. Black Widow begins training teen heroes to kill in her new Red Room, but Hawkeye’s team seeks a more peaceful solution. Meanwhile, the poor heroes stuck in space can’t catch a break, and something weird is going on with that other Steve Rogers wandering the forest.

Last issue felt more like a guidepost directing readers to throw money toward subplots in various tie-ins. But this week, the book dove into more of the rich tale Spencer’s crafting. The outer space scenes, for instance, work better in four pages here than in either The Ultimates 2 or Mighty Captain Marvel.

Nick Spencer balances all of these components well, but he shines on the subplot where Black Widow talks to Boomerang to set up an intel exchange with Maria Hill. It’s great to see Spencer writing Boomerang again, pulling so much humor from the big dreams of a delusional C-lister. Dark stories like the fascist conquest of America need jokes like this, and this writer does dark humor better than anyone.

Artist Andrea Sorrentino deserves credit here, too. His visionary approach to panel layout and color effects felt jarring last time. Now that the series has had time to catch up, the story benefits from the visual punches this creator can throw. The space battles had come across pretty rote, but his use of the star motif made a double-page spread feel like the best ten minutes of a sci-fi movie.

Next: Catch up on last issue!

The Bottom Line

After last issue’s brief slow-down, this event series has returned to its previous thrill ride. This creative team is changing the Marvel Universe and scaring our pants off in the process.