Secret Empire 0 pulls together threads from several different books which constitute the prologue. They are conveniently laid out here:

I only read the Steve Rogers issue and didn’t really feel like I needed to read the rest to follow what was going on in Secret Empire 0. In Steve Rogers 16 we see Cap’s secret plan start to coalesce as Hydra seeks to reassemble the Cosmic Cube without reawakening Kobik and Zemo appears to kill Bucky.

This brings us to Secret Empire 0 wherein it is outlined that the Cosmic Cube was apparently created by American scientists during the World War II era and used to create the reality that we know as the original Marvel Universe.  Hyrdra’s plan is to use Cap to “undo” that “fake” reality and restore the “true” reality in which Hydra conquers the world.  So they appear to be telling us that the entire Marvel Universe is all just one big EYKIW.

On the other hand, we are still getting the intro text page telling us that Kobik has rewritten reality.  In which case this whole Captain Hydra saga is just one big bad dream that can be Bobby Ewinged out of existence at any time.

In the meantime Nick Spencer has started knocking down the dominos that he has nicely put into place over the last year or so.  This isn’t just a bunch of random stuff thrown together to sell a summer crossover. There appears to have actually been a lot of planning that went into this.

Here’s the way it will unfold going forward:

It doesn't appear that there are too many tie-ins or spin-offs, although I suppose that could change but so far I'm on board for the main series and probably Uprising as well.

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It's really hard to know who's going to loyal to HYDRA Steve because they agree with him and who's going to be loyal to him because of some sort of mind control.  
Detective 445 said:

Mark S. Ogilvie said:

Any hint as to why Mockingbird is the traitor?

Not that I've seen. It could be something as simple as Dr Faustus brainwashing her.

That uncertainty seems like it's key to some of the excitement of the story. 

I always feel as if I’m missing something reading this series. Things do happen, but it seems as if a lot more is happening elsewhere. (The only other crossover series I’m reading are the two Captain America titles.) I didn’t really notice a discernable change in the artwork this issue. It’s still not my cup of tea, but I’m getting used to it. I was [mildly] surprised to see the previously “dead” Bruce Banner this time around. I know he’ll be part of the upcoming Generations series and has recently appeared in the Starlord Annual (which I did not read), but I’m curious to find out how he cheated death this time.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

I always feel as if I’m missing something reading this series. Things do happen, but it seems as if a lot more is happening elsewhere.

I think it probably doesn't help that the main series always has several plotlines and keeps jumping back and forth between them. So each one only progresses slightly. I read that the final issue of this series is due in August. Not sure how they're going to pull that off with 5 issues to go.

I guess I'll mention that I didn't really read anything that was relevant to SE this week. Jessica Jones and Avengers were sort of tangentially related but not to the extent that it's worth going in to detail.  I couldn't find the motivation to read Brave New World.  Hopefully next week will be better.

For a different kind of "Secret Empire" story, try Howard Chaykin's Challengers of the Unknown.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

For a different kind of "Secret Empire" story, try Howard Chaykin's Challengers of the Unknown.

I've been meaning to get that. Bought the first issue back when it came out but didn't "get it" at the time. Btw, DC is promoting a Chaykin Newsboy Legion comic as part of their Kirby tribute lineup. (In case you missed the ad.)

This week, the only tie-in I got was Secret Warriors #4.  This might be my favorite Marvel book right now.  But it's not crucial to the overall Secret Empire story.

X-Men Blue #7 did tite in, but once again, not crucial to the story.

Sounds like the story has stalled.

Spoiler Space for
Secret Empire #6
No huge developments this issue but there was a fair amount of story progression. Tough to see how they will finish this out by the end of August. This issue was longer and more expensive than the last. An obnoxious and shameless money grabbing move if you ask me.

  • We start off in the “dream world” with bearded Steve, the Red Skull and another guy (not sure if we're supposed to know who he is.) The new guy mentions a “goddess by the lake,” which will probably figure into the story at some point.
  • Next we cut to the Darkforce bubble area to check in with Cloak & Dagger, Daredevil, Kingpin and Dr Strange.  Everybody talks a lot. Dr Strange seems to be working on a way to escape.
  • Back to bearded Steve as the Red Skull does his best Negan impression. He appears to be eating the strange guy we saw earlier, while telling Steve that they are in Hell and that he, the Skull, knows how to free Steve. Then he appears to start torturing or killing him.
  • Meanwhile, Black Widow’s team doesn’t want to work for her anymore and we get a glimpse of the old man that they freed last issue.  Could he be an aged Steve Rogers?
  • Over at the rebel base Stevil commences his attack on the heroes.  Odinson appears to be having second thoughts about serving Hydra. Maybe he originally thought Stevil was worthy since he lifted Mjolnir?  The rebels try to ferret out the mole who is revealed to be…Ant Man??? Last issue seemed to indicate it was Mockingbird. Maybe it’s both of them. Spencer doesn’t seem to want us to know for sure. Stevil tries to convince the freshly resurrected Bruce Banner to attack the rebel base. He refuses but the Hulk agrees. A big dustup ensues with the good guys making a run for it.  A.I. Tony and Stevil have a sort of post Civil War showdown. A.I. Tony keeps Stevil talking so he has time to set off a very big bomb.  Madame Hydra arrives and appears to save Stevil but she seems to get caught in the blast. Stevil is going to be pissed!

Don't think I got any tie-ins but I'll post later if I did.

Nice, summary, ‘Tec. I don’t have anything to add at this time.

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned the coverage given to Secret Empire in Comics Shop News #1564. I meant to pull a few quotes from it, but forgot. I just realized I still have that issue, so better late than never, eh?

“But if this mystery man is Steve Rogers, then who is the Supreme Leader Steve? According to Brevoort, it would be too simplistic to break it down in terms of one character being real and one being a phony. ‘It’s not quite as simple as all that,’ Brevoort said. ‘What I will say is that “Stevil” is Steve Rogers, make no mistake about it.’

“‘As we’ve said from the start, the Steve Rogers leading Hydra right now is the real Steve Rogers,’ Spencer stressed.”

The following two quotes are both from Brevoort.

“And to answer the question, the ‘solve’ that seems to be on everybody’s minds: No, we’re not going to use the Cosmic Cube to bring Rick Jones back to life or to magically undo all of the events of this storyline at the end.”

“Oh, and let me say again: We’re not going to use the Cosmic Cube to simply reverse everything away—the stakes matter, maybe more than they ever have before.”

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