Secret Empire recap: Steve Rogers versus the world


Tie-ins this week shine light on the resistance to Hydra around the globe and give Steve Rogers his best speech yet. And one book is ridiculously mislabeled.

Captain America: Steve Rogers #18

Cover by Elizabeth Torque

What happened? Captain America addresses the United Nations. He makes it clear, “This is not a conversation. I am here to tell you the truth of the world as it stands today. And when I am finished, I will leave and concern myself with matters of true importance.”


He tells the world they are going to bow to Hydra or… well, they are. No second option. He’s on a roll, but Black Panther sends in video feed of the latest Hydra forces in Wakanda falling to his soldiers. So Steve cuts his speech short. Namor tries to support the Panther, but Rogers sends his Avengers to destroy the Atlantean temple, and Namor gives up his Cosmic Cube fragment in surrender.

But around the world, heroes like Israeli Sabra and Euroforce’s Swordswoman celebrate little victories against Hydra.

Was it good? Oh, yes. Cap’s speech is the kind of leader I think most of wish we could be, and exactly the leader most of us fear to have. He’s confident and capable, but utterly closed to discourse.

Recommendation: Yes, get this one. Captain America is scary in Secret Empire, but that goes to an 11 in his own title.

Secret Empire: Underground #1

Cover by R. B. Silva & Andy Troy

What happened? Mockingbird, Ant-Man, Hercules, Quicksilver, Sam Wilson, and Iron Man search for a Cosmic Cube fragment in the Savage Land. But it’s a bargaining chip between Sauron and three usurpers. Who should the Avengers side with? And who should they betray?

They end up turning on Sauron because, seriously, he’s the worst. And they make it out of Antarctica with a fragment to help save Steve Rogers.

Was it good? Yes, Jeremy Whitley balances the dinosaur-punching action with the humor you need when your villain is a vampire pteranodon in jorts.

Recommendation: If you can afford it, this is a great read. It’s not essential to the Secret Empire story, but it’s highly recommended.

Secret Empire: Brave New World #2

Cover by Paolo Siqueira & Marcio Menyz

What happened? Young Rayshaun wants to do more to keep the peace for the refugees in the Avengers’ Underground. So Iron Man builds him the Patriot armor and programs an Artificial Intelligence Black Widow to train him. Now he’s stomping bullies and preparing to join the Champions.

Meanwhile, Deadpool’s friend Hydra Bob wants to help take out an Inhuman. He’s incompetent, but he accidentally gets the job done. Way to go, Bob!

And in Atlantis, Namora leads an army to distract Namor and free his prisoners, the original Human Torch and Toro. Namor is tired of surface dwellers dragging him into conflicts and making him into a villain, but it may be worse with family.

Was it good? It wasn’t as good as last time, but Will Robson’s art on the Bob story makes me miss the Great Lakes Avengers, and it’s time we had another Patriot in action.

Recommendation: If you got last issue, get this one; otherwise, I’d probably rest it this week.

Cover by Chris Bachalo & Tim Townsend

What happened? Trapped by Darkforce in Manhattan, Dr. Strange teams with the Kingpin over the protests of Spider-Woman and Ben Urich. When Mordo makes his move to capture them, the Kingpin uses a connection to a dark witch to access dangerous magical weapons. He’s saved the day, but at what price?

Was it good? Yes, and from what we’ve seen inside the dome, this is the best Manhattan book.

Recommendation: Yes, pick this up to flesh out that side of the story. Dome’s got to come down sometime before the end of the Empire, and this will keep you up to date on the trapped heroes.

U. S. Avengers #7

Cover by Paco Medina, Juan Vlasco, & Jesus Aburtov

What happened? Steve Rogers reveals his mind control of Red Hulk, who captures Iron Patriot and locks her in a cell with Sunspot, who isn’t dead yet from his gunshot to the temple.

In the fight, Iron Patriot teleports Enigma and Squirrel Girl to France. There, they fight Hydra (and a language barrier) before rescue by Ares and Euroforce. The new team includes previous Al Ewing characters like Guillotine, the newest Captain Britain (Excalibur?), and Outlaw, the British Punisher.

And in space, aliens find Cannonball. He’s out cold, but he survived the fight with the Chitauri.

Was it good? It doesn’t feel as tightly connected as last issue, but it’s classic superheroics with a colorful cast.

Recommendation: Don’t take out a loan to get this issue, but it’s a fine use of an extra four bucks.

Ultimates 2 #8

Cover by Christian Ward

What happened? Galactus, in his role as Life-Bringer, befriends his old enemy Ego. He helps Ego grow a body, becoming Ego-Prime, and inducts him into a group of cosmic beings from earlier Ultimates issues to rescue Eternity. And in the background, evil Reed Richards, the Maker, asks the High Evolutionary to help him evolve the multiverse.

Was it good? No. Marvel cosmic only appeals to me when there’s some relatable touchstone character. Nova, Star-Lord, even Drax. A conversation between the embodiment of a multiversal iteration and a sentient planet? Even when they spoke as the humans they had once been, I felt disconnected. And Aud Koch’s art still comes across as stiff and dull.

Recommendation: The Comixology cover doesn’t have the Secret Empire banner, but the paper copy does. The paper copy is full of lies. Nothing in this connects to the main story except for further explanation of why Galactus won’t help the Ultimates get back to Earth.

Next: Last week's recap!

The tie-ins this week don’t connect to each other as strongly as previous weeks, but we’ve checked in with Hydra’s Supreme Leader, the heroes stuck in Manhattan, and resistance around the globe. The main book supports a breadth of storytelling, and Marvel’s writers are having a great time. Another good week to read Marvel. Just, be careful about judging The Ultimates by its cover.