Nick Spencer takes his political thriller within inches of the finish line, delivering a perfect balance of huge action with quiet revenge sequences.
Secret Empire #9 (of 10)
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Leinil Francis Yu with Joe Bennett, additional art by Rod Reis
Published by Marvel Comics
Cover by Mark Brooks
Last week, Sam Wilson returned to glory, unifying the heroes against Steve Rogers’s corrupt regime. Now that they’re back, he’s got to lead them all in the fight of their lives. Heroes return. Victims find vengeance. Marvel’s mightiest come to terms with the evil they’ve done. But it may not be enough – Hydra Supreme is getting himself an upgrade.
The bulk of this book cuts a larger melee with smaller scenes of people like Winter Soldier and Sharon Carter getting revenge or of heroes like Spider-Man, Thor, and Odinson returning to the board. Leinil Francis Yu has shown facility for the bigger pieces in his work on events like Secret Invasion, and he keeps everything clear here despite the chaotic bombast. Joe Bennett handles the quieter parts well, pushing the subtleties of facial expression and body language.
We’re in the final act of the story, so this issue has to keep the momentum raised from Sam Wilson’s monologue – no more breaks until we beat Hydra, okay? And Nick Spencer knows how to pace this such that he can step into comic relief in a page or two without taking his other foot off the bigger battle. This remains one of Marvel’s strongest events since the Infinity War.
Great story in a greater context
This was the book I needed this week. Most of Secret Empire, and of Nick Spencer’s Captain America run to this point, has validated the horror of the modern political climate. The 2016 election was unfathomable in 2004. Heck, 2015. And to see the country make such a sharp turn feels like someone hit us with a preschool-minded magic Cube. And two weeks ago, the story promised us that we could come together. That it would be okay.
And since then, this nation has erupted in more violence. My town was one of many to host huge vigils and protests. Hatred and threats have become the language of the day. Spencer may have predicted this, but he couldn’t have timed it better. We need to see that there are other people out there in outrage. That our unity will give us strength. That the friends and family we think lost to the wrong side will rejoin us. And that we will have redress for our injuries.
I don’t feel safe yet. The country isn’t safe yet. But we all needed to hear this week that we’re not alone out here. And I’m going to sleep a little easier tonight.
Nick Spencer keeps up his winning streak, bringing his event closer to a close. There’s a lot riding on next week’s conclusion. But I’m hopeful.