Secret Empire #6 review: Heroes fall


Heroes fight heroes when Hydra’s forces attack the good guys – is this just Civil War III, or can Nick Spencer rise above?

Secret Empire #6 (of 10)
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Leinel Francis Yu with additional art by Rod Reis and Joshua Cassara & Rachelle Rosenberg
Published by Marvel Comics

Cover by Mark Brooks

Heroes fight heroes. As much as we love seeing Captain America take down the Red Skull, there’s a part of us that wants to smash his action figure against our Hulk doll. And in more realistic stories like Civil War and its sequel, the result can be a disheartening mess. Even when the writer gives clear reason for the fight, the combatants look petty and dangerous.

So when Nick Spencer makes an issue about heroes fighting heroes, and he does it well, it deserves attention.

Last issue’s Hydra attack on the resistance base takes up most of this book. The good guys have to figure out who betrayed them (and it’s not Mockingbird, but man, that swerve got me). The bad guys have a Thor and a Hulk and a possessed Vision/Scarlet Witch pair. The biggest fights of the Civil War events repeat themselves. Lost trust and broken hearts litter these pages.

But Spencer knows how to earn this. The good guys are fighting corrupted versions of their friends – they can maintain nobility and integrity. The bad guys have their own logic, but Spencer doesn’t expect us to reasonably take their side in this. And seeing Hawkeye look at Hulk, risen from his murder? And Iron Man telling Captain America how he really feels? Emotional gems formed from this pressure.

Even the team’s confrontation with their traitor has a heartfelt sympathy – they’re devastated, but they get it. A desperate man made a terrible choice. His hands won’t stay bloodstained for long. It happens.

Because yes, it’s cool to watch Hulk punch Hawkeye. But it’s more mature to watch Hulk and Hawkeye dancing out their pain, seeking a truth and resolution. It’s a gentle upgrade to the two previous Civil Wars.

Next: Catch up with last issue's review!

We’ve still got a long way to go before this event ends. But Spencer has saved plenty of great moments for us, and I have faith he can end this well. I don’t need a happy ending – I need an ending that feels earned. And he’s earning the heck out of this so far.