Comic Review: SECRET EMPIRE #1 Introduces Us To a Much Darker Captain America
Just so everyone knows, this article is going to be covering the first issue of Marvel Comics' Secret Empire. There are spoilers. Things happen. People die. I'll try to save the spoilery stuff for the end so if you decide to pick up a copy, it won't be ruined for you, but I thought I should let you know ahead of time.
Secret Empire has finally begun. For the past year Captain America has been setting up a plan to take over the world and more specifically the United States and now that everything is in order, he is the new ruler.
The comic takes place about a month after his total and complete takeover, and manages to show quite a few viewpoints of what has happened. It's remarkable to see how an end of the world kind of situation can look so normal. If you were to tell me that Hydra ruled the U.S. I would expect a lot more machines patrolling the streets and fires being lit in random places, but as far as it looks, everything is fine. Which is one of the most interesting things about the comic series.
In our world, we believe that history is written by the winners, and in this case it absolutely is. We see in just the first few pages a teacher correcting a student, saying that history has been wrong and only now are we being told the truth. Everything we were taught before was just a great illusion created by the real villains who ran things before. It's scary what to think when the government has absolute control of the narrative, when there are no news sources to disagree. Where the hell is J. Jonah Jameson?
We also get a glimpse of the Underground, a resistance made up of the Champions. Young idealistic heroes who are the last line of defense, plus Black Widow and Hawkeye. Oh right, you also have the A.I. of Tony Stark, who also is drunk somehow. They explain that it's a program addition. So basically they have an Artificial Intelligence with a drinking problem because Iron Man wouldn't be Iron Man without a drinking problem.
The rest of the heroes have either been locked in New York City's Darkforce Bubble, or on the outside of the planet locked out. Others still were defeated and captured trying to save Cap thinking he was brainwashed or a robot or something. So now, we just have a bunch of young superheroes with a drunk A.I. and two regular humans who are really good at killing and shooting a bow. I give props to the heroes though, because Hawkeye has taken the lead, and it's great to see him in a leadership position at the end of the world. He is a lot less cool-dad than you would expect.
Another thing we get a glimpse of is Cap's Avengers. I'm not sure if they are all being mislead or just ok with everything. But this team definitely has a feel of Dark Avengers to it. The team is comprised of Taskmaster, Captain America, Doctor Octopus or rather Superior Octopus (who now has a perfect Spider-man body and Doc Ock Spidey suit to go with it), Deadpool, Black Ant, Unworthy Thor, Scarlet Witch and Vision. Some of these I understand. Taskmaster and Black Ant are kinda grey area heroes/villains. Doc Ock is pretty villainous. Deadpool is interesting because he's as of late been a good guy. In his own tie in, he'll be hunting down Agent Coulson who is against Cap. Vision might be reprogrammed, sure, but why are Scarlet Witch and Thor following Hydra Cap?
My own personal thought is that to the outside world, Hydra isn't necessarily evil anymore. Just a different viewpoint. Hydra believes power is the most important thing. Thor could get behind that. What sort of dirt do they have on Scarlet Witch, though? I thought she would know better.
Okay- From here on out, heavier spoilers are on their way.
The crux of the issue shows Cap dealing with being hard on people who oppose him even though he cares about them. Namely Rick Jones. Rick has been Cap's best friend and is kind of like the heart of the Marvel Universe. He has no super powers or fighting skills, but he involves himself in any way he can. He was one of Hulk's best friends too. He cared for Hulk when the world was against him. But Rick has crossed Hydra Cap by releasing some information from Hydra to an unknown source. Cap struggles to reason with Rick, and Rick is just so happy-go-lucky. This makes it even more heartbreaking when Cap gives the order to kill Rick Jones. You see the struggle on the pages. You realize there might still be good in Cap, but when he kills Rick and then lets loose Hydra machines on Las Vegas to find out where the Underground is hiding, you realize we are dealing with a much different Cap. He is willing to do what he must to control his country.
I'm loving the art as well as the writing. It is very reflective on our society as of now, which in my opinion is important. I don't think comics should necessarily be political, but they are a media art form just as much as any other. So why not? As long as they can go back to telling different fun stories after, why not tell a gritty harsh view of a world led by a less than ideal leader. My personal favorite thing about this big event is that, although there will be some crossover comics to go with it, it is not as much as previous big events.
I'm interested and can't wait to read this series. So many good comics coming up. I'm just so excited to be able to read them all.