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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BEST

PROGRAMMING

MONTAGE

EVER!

The Baron said:

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #23 

Spider-Man texts Doreen asking if she'll help out with the whole "Secret Empire" thing. She replies that the alien machinery maintaining the Savage Land is failing and she's busy trying to save it, but she's sure the other heroes will be able to defeat Hydra and get everything  back the way it was before with maybe one or two lasting changes.   ;)



Randy Jackson said:

BEST

PROGRAMMING

MONTAGE

EVER!

The Baron said:

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #23 

Spider-Man texts Doreen asking if she'll help out with the whole "Secret Empire" thing. She replies that the alien machinery maintaining the Savage Land is failing and she's busy trying to save it, but she's sure the other heroes will be able to defeat Hydra and get everything  back the way it was before with maybe one or two lasting changes.   ;)

I liked the closing reveal on that issue, too.

Yup. Just about the right speed for Doreen.

The Baron said:


I liked the closing reveal on that issue, too.

Any idea how they are going to put it all back together after this is over?  With at least a quarter (or half, including the majority of the military and law enforcement from what I've seen) of the country preferring Steve's HYDRA government to the old American government and the Kingpin proving he's better at helping the people than most of the heroes I think getting back to anything approaching normal is going to be difficult.



Mark S. Ogilvie said:

Any idea how they are going to put it all back together after this is over?  With at least a quarter (or half, including the majority of the military and law enforcement from what I've seen) of the country preferring Steve's HYDRA government to the old American government and the Kingpin proving he's better at helping the people than most of the heroes I think getting back to anything approaching normal is going to be difficult.

They'll rationalize it. somehow.  At times, they seem to be returning to the old idea that no one reads comics for more than five years, anyway.

"At times, they seem to be returning to the old idea that no one reads comics for more than five years, anyway."

I'm not sure that's not true. (Present company excluded, of course.)

I frequent a lot of used bookstores and look through a lot of dollar bins, and I see a lot of comics collections from "five years ago." (It's not just stuff from the '90s.) And, when I look at those runs, usually thinking "I paid full price for this five years ago" (whatever the current year happens to be), I see a  lot of good series, but very little which is relevant to whatever the current continuity is today.

Peter Parker reveals his secret identity to the world. No longer relevant.

Thor becomes Lord of Asgard and ushers in a dystopian future. No longer relevant.

I don't have to even go back that far.

Right now it's Steve rogers, Hydra and the Secret Empire.

Next year? No longer relevant.

Despite all that's been said, I think at the end of the day Kobik waves her magic wand and everything is reset.

Mark S. Ogilvie said:

Any idea how they are going to put it all back together after this is over? 

  In a way that's too bad.  When you make a mistake you should deal with the consequences.  But I've felt this for most of the big event from both companies, one of the reasons I've stopped buying big events.  In this case though you should have pre-teens and teens become future HYDRA-like villains because they do respond to order above all else, something that Steve would have to deal with.  Then there are all the people in law enforcement and the military who just threw away their oaths to the constitution because (I think marvel has said this) one man said so.  Again some might actually prefer HYDRA and how do they deal with that after the old law has been restored?  What is the value of their oaths (and the men and women themselves) if they can switch alligence so easily?  

In my opinion when they go this way with big events it becomes less serious reading and more Teen Titan's Go.  I just wish that if marvel is going to go this way they had the courage to take their concepts all the way to a conclusion beyond magic wand reset.

Randy Jackson said:

Despite all that's been said, I think at the end of the day Kobik waves her magic wand and everything is reset.

Mark S. Ogilvie said:

Any idea how they are going to put it all back together after this is over? 

I think the trick is to have the cosmic cube be *part* of the solution, but not the *whole* solution -- and still, somehow, retain consequence for the heroes and the larger Marvel U. Things have to be mended, but at the same time, it can't be completely negated. It's a tricky tightrope to walk.

I realize now how out of touch I have become with the Marvel Universe. I have no idea how or why Tony Stark is now an AI. I have no idea who this new Giant Man is.

Loved the speech by Captain America. (The real one, not the former one.)

Not wild about Barf.

The Cube seems to function in a similar way to the Scarlet Witch’s power (under John Byrne).

I was more upset that Doctor Strange bartered his "sanctum sanctorum" (and the thought of it being sub-divided into condominiums!) than I was to see Captain America shot (because I knew he’d survive).



Jeff of Earth-J said:

I realize now how out of touch I have become with the Marvel Universe. I have no idea how or why Tony Stark is now an AI. I have no idea who this new Giant Man is.


IIRC, there was originally supposed to be only one digital backup of Tony Stark's mind. But now it seems like we keep finding out about more and more secret backups. So they've effectively made him immortal.
The current AI was activated after Tony was put into a coma at the end of Civil War 2.

Immortal in a sense, but LITERALLY rebootable. There are things that one AI might do that, should it be destroyed, would not be part of another AI's history. 

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