Secret Empire recap: Lost in space. And in South Dakota. Lots of loss.


Secret Empire brings a lost hero home for a visit, but most of the tie-in books don’t need to come home with you. Find out why!

Secret Empire #5

Cover by Mark Brooks

What happened? In the mysterious forest, Steve Rogers and his unnamed friends find fraternity until the Red Skull separates Steve from the pack.

Black Widow moves her plan to kill Captain America forward by allying with Viper and sending her teen assassin trainees to find an old man “who would win us the war.” Don’t know who he is yet – an army buddy?

Iron Man’s team returns to headquarters, demoralized by their failure to collect any more than two fragments of the Cosmic Cube they need to turn Steve Rogers good again. Black Panther won’t give them his; Emma Frost has beaten them to a couple. Worse, when they do make it home, Mockingbird betrays their location, and Hydra airships open fire on The Mount!

Captain America uses the threat of Thor’s hammer to intimidate the mutants of New Tian. But he worries about the little cracks in the control over Avengers Scarlet Witch, Vision, and the original Thor. Lucky him, he has a secret weapon: the temporarily resurrected Bruce Banner!

Was it good? Yes. A bit of a breather like issue two, but it’s brought up a few mysteries, a tragic betrayal, and a surprise return from a dead Avenger. I enjoyed it.

Recommendation: If you are reading any of the Secret Empire books this year, you do have to pick this one up. But you’ll like it.

Occupy Avengers #8

Cover by Gabriel Hernandez Walta

What happened? At The Mount, Hawkeye and Black Widow hook up. He wants to process feelings; she doesn’t. “Comedy” ensues.

Meanwhile, the team investigates Hydra activity in Nebraska. The fascists have killed anyone who points out that their rationing strategy avoids feeding any rural community. But Nightshade (now in a Nighthawk costume because the original was killed by racist Hydra thugs in a flashback panel) leads some Nick Fury Life-Model Decoys to the rescue.

And on the way to helping out a resistance group in South Dakota, the team is hit by Hydra forces. Not looking good for them.

Was it good? No. The series has found great tone in the “heroes of the people” stories, but this issue couldn’t hold together. The Hawkeye beats don’t fit with the South Dakota scenes. The gender tropes around the sex jokes felt tired and at odds with the book’s sensitivity to modern humor thus far.

And the art is hideous, with each character looking waxy and androgynous, and such emphasis on teeth outlining that everyone appears to have Jack-O-Lantern gaps. Nighthawk has been too significant a character to die, essentially, off-screen. And Tilda looks so deformed it took two attempts to figure out that she’s the one in the costume.

It’s a shame that such a lovely Gabriel Hernandez Walta cover is lost on lousy interiors like this.

Recommendation: Do read the first seven issues. It’s a good series. But let’s pretend this week never happened, okay?

Amazing Spider-Man #29

Cover by Alex Ross

What happened? Peter Parker’s in London explaining his company’s involvement in the Green Goblin’s war on Symkaria when Captain America’s US takeover hits. At the London branch of Parker Industries, he runs into a Hydra cell led by the Superior Octopus. They fight about old times, and when Parker has to run to Washington, Octopus frames him for the Darkforce bubble around Manhattan.

Was it good? Yes, I’ve been a big fan of Dan Slott’s run, and this issue balanced the duties to the crossover with a tight story paying off years of tension between these two characters.

Recommendation: Spider-Man fans will already be buying it, and I don’t think it adds much to Secret Empire. So it’s one to let pass if you’re on the fence.

Mighty Captain Marvel #6

Cover by Elizabeth Torque

What happened? Captain Marvel’s team has lost morale, what with the waves of alien attack and the betrayal by everyone’s favorite American. She sends the Guardians off to find help, then tries to contact teammate Wendy back on Earth. The new recruits think they can help, and they do, but Carol is so distracted by their antics that a Chitauri ship gets the best of her.

Was it good? No. This book has been pretty boring since issue one. Great cast members like Puck and Spectrum lose screen time to ordinary people like Wendy and the recruits. I have read every issue and can never remember Wendy between books.

Recommendation: Forget it. Consider the whole space subplot of the summer event officially lost.

All-New Guardians Of The Galaxy Annual #1

Cover by David Nakayama

What happened? When the Guardians follow Captain Marvel’s orders to seek help, Mantis directs them to a tuning fork Galactus used to use to pierce barriers. Space pirate Yondu can help them navigate the Bermuda Triangle it’s lost in, but of course, he betrays them all. And the tuning fork is busted anyway. But the crew is inspired by their teamwork and returns to Earth’s orbit with renewed morale.

Was it good? Yes. The guest stars from the recent movie help the book to maintain a light, familiar tone. But an annual is a long read for an ending of, “Welp, that didn’t work, but we are friends again.”

Recommendation: Fans of the summer movie should get this one, but you don’t need to read a page to keep following the Secret Empire story.

Next: Catch up with last week's recap!

Apart from the main title, let’s call this a lost week. None of the tie-ins added much to the story, and half of them didn’t even succeed as books. But hey, Bruce Banner is temporarily back from the dead – that’s cool.