Review: SECRET EMPIRE #10 (SPOILERS)
By RUSSELL BERGER
Anyone who’s been following Marvel, or comics in general, should be relatively aware that SECRET EMPIRE is the latest spearhead for the company’s next “big” shift in its direction… GENERATIONS— or, uh, LEGACY. Well, whatever they plan on finally calling it, but either way it’s what blatantly looks to be their version of DC Comics’ REBIRTH. Now it’s no lie that I tend to lean more right (DC) on the comic book company aisle than left (Marvel,) but when it comes down to it, I want to read great comics that have a firm grasp and understanding of the characters they’re using, and that’s what the comic fan in me was hoping for out of SECRET EMPIRE #10.
Going into issue-10, we all knew that it was the end of the “event,” and that the LEGACY line would be spinning out of it. That being where Marvel puts their Golden Age characters like Logan/Wolverine, Tony Stark/Iron Man and Thor with their Next Gen versions; Laura Kinney/All-New Wolverine, Riri Williams/Ironheart and Jane Foster/Fem-Thor. Over the entire event, and even before when CAP spoke those jaw dropping words, “Hail Hydra,” I’ve been very critical of everything Marvel, and justly so. It was no different going into this final issue, as SECRET EMPIRE thus far had been a bit underwhelming.
Of course, the issue kicks off with Hydra-CAP donning his Iron Man-esque green-yellow armor with a star-shaped arc reactor — that was 99.9% cosmic cube — come face-to-face with the Avengers. See, one of my biggest pet peeves as a reader and even a writer is when a bad guy gives one of those monologue speeches to his/her protagonist, and just like clockwork, Hydra-CAP gives one trying to get the Avengers to join him. It was a million-times cliché. Having the antagonist (Hydra-CAP) trying to convince the protagonists (the Avengers) that their views and morality is all wrong and has always been while his and himself are actually right, and therefore they should join him. Of course it results in the complete opposite of what Hydra-CAP was going for, and the Avengers take it to him.
And again, we get another predictable outcome as the Avengers are nothing compared to this cosmic cube heart wielding Hydra-Cap.
I understand that every massive event needs a massive-level foe, and this one’s was Hydra-CAP. Of course it plays into the current political times as there’s white supremacist and neo-Nazis rallying in Charlottesville not too long ago, and there’s a [small] portion of the country who feels the only acceptable course of action, is action. Though, despite the running parallels, there was an overwhelming feel of forcing through the entire issue. There wasn’t much subtlety to the storytelling, and it just leant to an overall vibe that they had run out of time to tell the story they wanted, which gave us SECRET EMPIRE #10.
I don’t know if that’s what happened, that they had to wrap up what they were doing in order to meet the release of LEGACY, but if it did, it’s a shame. There was definite potential to the idea that was behind the story, and because the story seemed rushed to finish, it was wasted for me.
There were some bits of the issue that I liked, and one of those was the imagery that they recreated.
The one panel (shown above) that jumped out to me the most was where [Steve] McNiven recreated the iconic CIVIL WAR shot of Iron Man and CAP, but with Hydra-CAP and CAP. It’s clear that panel has truly become the symbolism of polar opposite ideologies meeting head-to-head; where in CIVIL WAR it was Privacy v Security and here in SECRET EMPIRE, Freedom v Fascism. It also fitting that CAP is the only certainty in it, as this issue made point of, “And you fight. Stand– And fight. Stand– And fight. Until you cannot stand any longer.” It’s a founding principle of this country, that no matter what we’ll continue to get up and fight for what’s right until we can’t anymore. That reinforcement of CAP being Marvel’s true symbol of America was satisfying since for the last year we’ve been getting a bit of the opposite. *COUGH* Nazi CAP *COUGH*
Outside of political symbolism, and touches of great art, SECRET EMPIRE felt lackluster to me. Ending with almost everything fixed at a whim, it shows that they’ve thrown out true repercussions. And for an event that’s purpose was to shift the direction of where Marvel is headed, it lacked a north star to navigate by, and ironically felt directionless. I give SECRET EMPIRE #10 a sub par 2.5 out of 5.