Monsters fill the Secret Empire this week, be they the Mole Man’s kaiju, Darkforce creatures invading Manhattan, or that cyborg on the cover! Scary!
Secret Empire #4
Cover by Mark Brooks
What happened? In the mysterious forest, Steve Rogers fights Batroc, Whirlwind, and an Evolutionary with the help of men who look just like Jim Rhodes and Bucky Barnes.
In Black Widow’s Red Room, the sweet teen Champions learn to torture and kill a Hydra operative.
And in Ultron’s Alaskan fortress, Hydra’s Avengers and Iron Man’s team fight to a stalemate and then get stuck at a creepy family dinner. Ultron loses his cool when Iron Man calls him a wife beater, but Scott Lang talks him down, and this moves the murder robot to grant him the Cosmic Cube fragment they’ve all come to find.
Finally, Namor gives Steve Rogers the Cube fragment he’s wanted as a means to preserve peace with Atlantis.
Was it good? Oh, yes. The tense dinner with Ultron brought up important commentary on grim superhero books, and it was a relief to find out what made Scarlet Witch, Vision, and the original Thor work for Hydra. (Possession, mostly)
Recommendation: Yes, this is a great event, and I hope you keep reading it.
Captain America: Sam Wilson #23
Cover by Elizabeth Torque
What happened? Sam Wilson smuggles Iron Man’s team across the Canadian border. But they have to go through Mole Man’s kingdom. When Hydra Dreadnoughts chase them, Mole Man’s monsters take collateral damage. So Sam is banished – how will he keep smuggling people to safety? Guess he’ll figure it out after dinner with Ultron.
Was it good? It was funny, but the light tone made it feel more like filler than the world-building we saw last issue.
Recommendation: I love this book, but this is a good week to skip.
Secret Empire United #1
Cover by Ryan Stegman and Jesus Aburtov
What happened? The mutants all live in Northern California, now called New Tian. It’s not too bad, but Frenzy, Random, and Sunfire cause an international incident at the border with Hydra’s America. King Xorn sends a “capable-but-expendable” team of Boom Boom, Strong Guy, Magik, Marrow, and Sebastian Shaw to liberate the prisoners, barely defeating Hydra’s Avengers.
When Steve Rogers meets with Xorn in person, Emma Frost reveals herself as the secret power behind the throne and proves that advisors Dr. Faustus and Arnim Zola caused the border skirmish with mind control. He returns to his council having brokered peace with the mutants. And he glares at his traitorous council. Guess you can’t trust Nazis.
Oh, and Emma has a piece of the Cosmic Cube.
Was it good? The plot was fine, but the cast was lackluster. Were people crying out to see Marrow and Sunfire again?
Recommendation: If this was the only mutant book, I’d say sure, but X-Men Blue and Gold teams start their crossovers this month, and there are mutants in this week’s Secret Warriors. Pass.
Uncanny Avengers #24
Cover by R. B. Silva and Jesus Aburtov
What happened? Most of the team is in Manhattan when the Darkforce barrier goes up, and they help with the crisis but can’t work together. Rogue stops Shocker and Scorpia from robbing a bank, but they get surrounded by Darkforce monsters. Similar monsters possess Doctor Voodoo as he works on piercing the barrier. They’re not getting out that way…
Was it good? It was fine – this book has never really worked for me, but this was one of the more solid issues.
Recommendation: Let this one go. If you really need to know what’s going on in the dark, read Dr. Strange or just follow the clips in the main book.
Secret Warriors #3
Cover by Tradd Moore & Matthew Wilson
What happened? As the team fights mutants in New Tian to find their last member, Ms. Marvel flashes back to her work saving Jersey City after the Hydra takeover. The Warriors lose their fight, but they find Dark Beast running a lab dissecting Inhumans and torture him to find out Hydra has their target. On the way out of town, Quake’s dad, Mr. Hyde, attacks!
Was it good? I really enjoyed it. The pacing of the flashback cutting into the main story bumped the action up for both. And the Dark Beast surprise showed that monsters aren’t just murder robots and Darkforce creatures.
Recommendation: Yes, this is a much better showcase for New Tian than Secret Empire United.
Cover by David Lopez
What happened? Deadpool arrests Speedball on Hydra’s orders but thinks he picked the wrong team, so when he uncovers the rebel base in Colorado, he lies to his superiors to hide it.
Was it good? Again, yes, though not as good as the tense previous issue. And I love seeing Speedball in action again.
Recommendation: If you got last issue, yes, get this one, but it’s not as essential to the bigger event.
This week lost some steam from the amazing consistent quality of the previous two, but the event still works. As before, dedicated readers need the main book, but it look like Secret Warriors could fill in enough of the side quests and world-building for the week.