Secret Empire recap: Winning battles, but war’s still on


Battles rage in occupied Manhattan and against Steve Rogers’s Hydra army, and the heroes have started to win. But Hydra won’t go down that easily.

Secret Empire #9

Cover by Mark Brooks

What happened? The united heroes fight Hydra’s forces. It’s still looking bad, but Odinson defects to the good team, mercenaries Taskmaster and Black Ant release the Champions, and Viv helps take the virus out of The Vision. Sharon Carter knocks out Doctor Faustus, and Winter Soldier and Black Panther get the drop on Zemo. Even the Jane Foster Thor’s back home!

But in the background, Arnim Zola convinces Hydra Supreme Steve Rogers to fuse with most of their Cosmic Cube, so the heroes haven’t won yet. Not by a long shot.

And in the mysterious forest, Steve Rogers realizes that he’s the memory of himself that Kobik has from before she changed him. He tries to convince her to make everything right again, but she says, “He’s too scary.” Does she mean Fascist Captain America? We’ll find out in next week’s conclusion!

Was it good? The battles themselves looked pretty generic despite the wonderful breadth of heroes present and Yu’s capable page layouts. This book shines in its writing, and the monologue playing out in captions over the action made the difference in moving a decent battle scene to a powerful statement. It feels good to see our team winning again.

Recommendation: Get this one right now.

Doctor Strange #24

Cover by Niko Henrichon

What happened? Doctor Strange’s magic-powered team of Spider-Woman, Ben Urich, and the Kingpin battles Baron Mordo’s forces. They win the day with strategy and guile, but the Darkforce Dome stays up. (Guess no one told them Blackout made the bubble, not Mordo.)

Was it good? It’s a satisfying, if slight, ending to a well-done tie-in arc. This is a lot more fun than the grim Dark Manhattan stories out of, say, Uncanny Avengers. And Dennis Hopeless is a great fit for each of these characters.

Recommendation: Yes, I think this is the best you’ll get for what happened to Manhattan during Secret Empire. You could skip it, but it enhances the scope of the event.

Next: Catch up with last week's action!

As this event draws to its close, we’ve seen a main title with nary a misstep, and most of the tie-ins have been fun if not essential. I hope this sets the new precedent for Marvel’s linewide crossover structure.