Secret Empire has its biggest and best week yet as the main book crushes Atlantis while four tie-ins deliver top-quality issues. Best crossover yet?
Secret Empire #3
Cover by Mark Brooks
What happened? While one Steve Rogers orders the destruction of a holy Atlantean temple in his quest to collect the missing shards of his Cosmic Cube, another amnesiac heroic version wanders a mysterious forest. Star-Lord fails to recruit help from cosmic empires like the Skrulls, and Quasar has survived her injuries but remains comatose. It looks bad.
But Black Widow is training the teen Champions to kill, and Boomerang helps Maria Hill deliver intel to her. And Sam Wilson agrees to smuggle Hawkeye’s crew out of the country to try to save their corrupt Captain.
And in the background, the monstrous fusion of Ultron and Hank Pym plots while the Punisher, in a bloodstained Hydra tee, roughs up Boomerang for information.
Was it good? Yes. While last issue felt a little more like a skeleton for the tie-ins, this was a rich chapter advancing the major subplots. This script was a much better fit for Andrea Sorrentino’s atmosphere of dread and memorable panel experiments.
Recommendation: Pick this one up. The event’s still going strong.
Secret Empire: Uprising #1
Cover by Meghan Hetrick
What happened? The teens of Black Widow’s new Red Room infiltrate Hydra’s new Youth Choir to get close to Steve Rogers. The Totally Awesome Hulk and the Unstoppable Wasp make it through auditions, but when Champions villains The Freelancers show up to work security, the rest of the team tries to rescue their friends and the innocents auditioning.
Surprisingly, Hulk took his Ethical Adjustment lessons to heart, selling out his teammates so he could cement his position in the Choir. Now he’s on his own.
Was it good? Yes, the audition scenes were funny even if the American Idol jokes don’t mean as much in 2017. The tension of the infiltration and rescue work well, and writer Derek Landy understands his characters.
Recommendation: Yes, get this one. It’s a one-shot, but the choir concert might happen in the main series, and this was a great story of Black Widow’s Red Room.
Captain America: Sam Wilson #22
Cover by Elizabeth Torque
What happened? After the shock of Steve Rogers’s betrayal, Sam wants nothing to do with heroism. But when anti-Inhuman racists just want Hydra to “Win Back The Country,” he sets up a pipeline to smuggle people out of America. It’s going fine until Ant-Man finds out, and next thing Sam knows, Hawkeye and his crew could use a favor.
Was it good? Absolutely. Sam Wilson’s examination of racial tension in America was always more interesting than Steve Rogers’s political thriller (which was still great). To see this thoughtful conversation continue in the context of lost hope? Wonderful, and parallel to our current political climate.
Recommendation: Pick this one up. It adds to the world of this summer event, and it challenges us to take stands in our own communities.
Doctor Strange #21
Cover by Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend, and Java Tartaglia
What happened? Under the dome, Doctor Strange scours Manhattan for components of a magical rescue. But when Daredevil, Spider-Woman, and Ben Urich investigate his Sanctum, old foe Mordo captures Daredevil. Spider-Woman’s escape ruins Strange’s spell, and a giant monster tries to eat them – until Kingpin Wilson Fisk saves the day.
Was it good? Very. Dennis Hopeless’s first issue of Doctor Strange brings the wry humor of his Spider-Woman run, and having some of his previous characters along makes for a smooth transition. The broadening of the cast beyond the Netflix lineup helps spice up the entertainment value.
Recommendation: Get it. I doubt I’ll recommend another book for this subplot.
Cover by David Lopez
What happened? SHIELD agent Phil Coulson figures out Captain America’s secret and goes into hiding. Rogers asks Deadpool to kill Coulson, and he tracks the man to his safe house and puts a bullet in his chest.
Was it good? Yes, surprisingly. The plot was straightforward, but it thoughtfully explored the chase between two men who idolize Captain America and what it means to them that he changed.
Recommendation: I don’t think Deadpool will be all that important to the crossover, but this issue is better than I’ve come to expect from the character. Don’t break your budget, but if you have four bucks lying around, you could do worse.
This week had the most books yet, and all of them were good. I don’t think Marvel can keep that kind of consistency going, but let us all be grateful for the week we were given.