Secret Empire recap: Steve Rogers is a jerk


Steve Rogers hits a new low when he kills a classic Marvel hero, but at least it helps inspire Sam Wilson to get back in the game.

Secret Empire #7

Cover by Mark Brooks

What happened? Steve Rogers puts aside the grief of losing his maternal Madame Hydra in the fight against the Uprising long enough to hold a speech on the Capitol steps. Black Widow plans to send in her teenage assassins but puts Miles Morales in a cage to keep him from fulfilling the prophecy from Civil War II.

But it all goes horribly wrong. Miles escapes right away. The Punisher, who has knowingly joined Hydra to win his personal war on crime, catches up to Black Widow. And by the time she can see Miles approach Steve, she has to improvise an intervention – and this opens her up for Steve Rogers to kill her with a shield to the neck.

The Unstoppable Wasp helps Spider-Man keep from killing Captain America in his grief, but the Champions end up in Hydra jail. The same jail Sharon Carter’s in, and where she stabs Steve Rogers in the neck. He survives, pissed, and he declares war on the Underground. But he has no idea that their new leader is Sam Wilson – back in the red, white, and blue.

Was it good? Very much so. For an issue with mostly fight scenes, Sorrentino kept each one compelling and active. And Spencer made sure each fight carried clear stakes (umm, literally, in the case of Sharon stabbing Steve). If these had been in Civil War II, we might have enjoyed that series more – or, hey, at all.

Recommendation: Yes, get this book. I hope Black Widow doesn’t stay dead, but this is a pivotal character moment for the heroes on both sides of the Empire.

Captain America: Steve Rogers #19

Cover by Jesus Saiz

What happened? Steve mourns Madame Hydra and gives up his old costume, putting on that fascist green number we’ve been seeing in promotional images. Odinson tries to talk to him, but they just argue. And a visit to Sharon Carter leads to accusations of small-minded fascism instead of the apology he wanted for stabbing him in the neck. Poor little monster can’t catch a break. Guess he better declare war.

Was it good? Yes, these interludes of the human side of Steve Rogers don’t excuse his hideous actions, but they add depth to him as a villain who honestly believes he’s in the right.

Recommendation: Yes, get this one. Know your enemy.

Captain America: Sam Wilson #24

Cover by Jesus Saiz

What happened? Sam Wilson reflects on the discussion he had with his brother when he decided to give up being Captain America, which was much more supportive than the fight he has with Misty Knight in the rubble of the Uprising base. She’s sick of his crap and hands him back his Captain America uniform. But he won’t take it until the new Patriot tells him how dumb he was to leave in the first place. So he’s ready to lead the heroes against Hydra again. Welcome back!

Was it good? I have loved Nick Spencer’s run on Sam Wilson, and this is probably my favorite issue. People who love Sam tell him hard truth, but there’s this amazing thread of support. And the real world parallels are phenomenal – America backed a racist when they wouldn’t accept a Black hero, and maybe they don’t deserve a Captain America, but the people who lost still do. He can’t give up. We can’t give up.

Recommendation: Buy this book immediately, and read it to yourself every time you feel discouraged about our political directions.

Occupy Avengers #9

Cover by Gabriel Hernandez Walta

What happened? Without Hawkeye’s help, the rest of the team organize a civilian uprising in Nebraska and Wyoming. It’s not going well – lots of farmers are dying under Hydra boots. But they’re dying with meaning and purpose. Nighthawk and Red Wolf finally share a kiss before jumping into battle in the cliffhanger final page. They’re outnumbered, but hey, we don’t actually see them die, so..?

Was it good? Well, last issue was pretty terrible, so this is an improvement. I liked the heroic sacrifices. But this book deserves a better final issue than to just slip out in the corner of a crossover.

Recommendation: Umm, you have better uses for your money. Maybe use what you saved on skipping this to buy some of the earlier issues?

X-Men Blue #8

Cover by Arthur Adams & Peter Steigerwald

What happened? Emma Frost has imprisoned most of the team on New Tian, but Jean Grey and Ultimate Wolverine’s son stage a rescue. Magneto can’t help directly (remember when Steve Rogers gave him Red Skull’s stupid Nazi head in a box for that deal?) but he sends Danger and Polaris to help out.

Was it good? Yes, this is the first issue of X-Men Blue that feels as good as the previous titles with the time-travelling teens. And it’s probably a better exploration of New Tian than we saw in Secret Empire: United.

Recommendation: I guess if you hate the mutants, you can skip this one. But who hates the mutants? Besides Hydra. Hydra hates the mutants. Don’t be like Hydra.

Deadpool #34

Cover by David Lopez

What happened? Agent Preston, Deadpool’s best friend, the Life Model Decoy raising his daughter, is livid at him for killing Phil Coulson. The only way to stop her is to kill her. It breaks his heart. And Deadpool is going to take his pain all the way to the top – Steve Rogers better watch his back.

Was it good? So good. What could have been a gratuitous fight scene was a heartbreaking dance of loss.

Recommendation: You probably don’t need it, but if you’ve picked up previous Deadpool tie-ins, you’re going to love this one.

Mighty Captain Marvel #7

Cover by Elizabeth Torque

What happened? Captain Marvel rescues the new recruits from their failed mission. Inspired, she organizes Alpha Flight, the Ultimates, and the Guardians of the Galaxy to take out another wave of Chitauri and try to punch a new hole into the planetary shield. But it fails.

Was it good? No. This book has been so boring, and this issue loses the few great scenes of Captain Marvel kicking butt underneath a gray fog of dull supporting characters and overly-explained sci-fi gobbledygook.

Recommendation: Don’t get this. It’s bad.

Next: Catch up on previous recaps!

Though a few of the tie-ins were disappointing, this was a good week for the event on the whole, with one of Secret Empire‘s best single issues and connected books that brought more humanity to the story.