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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At least one legitimate spoiler-worthy development this time around so...

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Secret Empire #7
Hot on the heels of last weeks’s extra long issue #6 we get get this latest installment. Maybe it will finish up in August after all!

  • We start things off in space outside the planetary defense shield where virtually nothing has happened since this event began. Captain Marvel and her cronies continue to wring hands and run out of options.   It appears that we’re waiting for Quasar to emerge from her coma before this subplot can advance.
  • A quick pan to a single page showing Red Neganskull whacking bearded Steve with his trusty spiked club.
  • Meanwhile Stevil prepares to give a public address, which is the opportunity Black Widow’s team has been waiting for. They seem to believe that this may be the moment of Stevil’s death as foreseen in Civil War II.  Black Widow imprisons Spider Man in an effort to prevent his role in the prophecy. Then she frees Mosaic from the mysterious old guy we’ve seen in previous issues and uses him to help carry out the assassination. The Punisher shows up and ruins her shot. She and Spider Man (yep, he escaped) converge on Stevil. Black Widow is killed in the melee. Spider Man has a chance to kill Stevil but refuses. Later, Sharon Carter takes a shot but also fails.
  • Cut back to Bearded Steve as he struggles with Neganskull and catches a glimpse of an angelic looking blonde (the lady in the lake?) The struggle takes both combatants over a cliff and into a... lake.  The skull has been hinting that death will free bearded Steve from the dreamworld. Could this be the moment?
  • Finally, we see Hawkeye and the remaining rebel heroes anguishing over Black Widows death.  All seems lost but then Sam Wilson (in Captain America uniform) shows up to rally them.


Captain America Steve Rogers #19
The intro page warns us to read Secret Empire #7 before reading this issue. I personally recommend not reading this issue at all.  We see Steve moping over the now deceased Madame Hydra. We see Stevil argue with Odinson about his failure to stop the rebel heroes from escaping. We see Sharon Carter lecture Steve. We see Steve promise to restore Madame Hydra and his preferred reality.

Sam Wilson Captain America #24
This tie-in also advises reading Secret Empire prior to this issue. The reason is because this issue takes us through Sam’s decision making process in deciding to become Captain America again and join the rebels.  It’s a well written issue with a lot of good character bits as Sam debates his role in all of this with his brother, Misty Knight, and the new Patriot character that was introduced in Brave New World.  A lot of the debate here sounds especially relevant in light of current real world events.

Both Captain America books hint at a coming showdown between the two Caps.


I didn't get any other tie-ins this week but here's a look at some of them from this month:

Steve was a lot easier to kill during cw1.

The art style of #7 is highly experimental and, IMO, the panel-to-panel continuity is difficult to follow at times. I would like to elaborate about the way Sharon failed to kill “Stevil”: she couldn’t bring herself to follow through. Also, more detail concerning Black Widow’s death: her neck was snapped by Stevil’s shield (in an “x-ray” panel I did finds to be highly effective).

I always rail against Marvel and DC renumbering series for no good reason (other than a short term sales burst), but I’ll be glad when CPTAIN America is rebooted.



Jeff of Earth-J said:

The art style of #7 is highly experimental and, IMO, the panel-to-panel continuity is difficult to follow at times.


Yeah. I like the atmospheric quality of Sorrentino's art, but I think when he takes the "artiness" too far it gets in the way of his storytelling. And the storytelling should always be the priority. Especially in a mainstream book like this.

So...I've been following Spencer's Captain America books and Secret Empire with the idea that he has a well thought out plan to eventually restore the Steve Rogers that we are all familiar with without inflicting any real or lasting damage to the character.

But after coming across various articles and blogs detailing Spencer's political views and history in politics, I'm losing faith that this is going to end up the way I would like it to. I won't go into detail here, but I find myself now drifting towards the same attitude I have about Chuck Dixon's work. It's going to be a challenge for me to support it going forward.

  For me Steve is important, but in a way it's the rest of the country that I'd worry about.  The teachers, police and military, the courts meaning the judges who went along with HYDRA, basically tossing the US Constitution away because 1 man said so.  I can see Steve easily duping someone like Carol, but how many people had to buy into his version of the world to cause such a shift in the United States and what happens to them afterwards?  Are we going to see Nuremburg style trials for judges who put people into camps, or what about the people who ran the camps?  That to me would be just as important as a Steve redemption story. 

Detective 445 said:

So...I've been following Spencer's Captain America books and Secret Empire with the idea that he has a well thought out plan to eventually restore the Steve Rogers that we are all familiar with without inflicting any real or lasting damage to the character.

But after coming across various articles and blogs detailing Spencer's political views and history in politics, I'm losing faith that this is going to end up the way I would like it to. I won't go into detail here, but I find myself now drifting towards the same attitude I have about Chuck Dixon's work. It's going to be a challenge for me to support it going forward.

It's not over yet, but I keep thinking that if they'd done this as a What If? maxi-series, this would be much more well received.

That is so true Randy,

I feel like that about most Marvel 'events' .and actually if they marketed them as such they'd probably get the same if not better sales. 
 
Randy Jackson said:

It's not over yet, but I keep thinking that if they'd done this as a What If? maxi-series, this would be much more well received.

I think fans might like the idea of them better, but I think the sales would tank. What-Ifs and Elseworlds just don't have the built-in stakes of the main-universe stuff. 

Some relatively big developments this week so…
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Captain America #25
In contrast with most tie-in books up to this point, this book basically serves as Secret Empire #7.5. Sam Wilson doesn’t even appear until half way through the story. So I’m going to bullet point this one like I have been with the main series.

  • We start off with A.I. Tony trying to blow out candles on a birthday cake. Huh? Don’t worry we’ll revisit.
  • Next we get a few pages of Stevil giving a speech in which he declares war on New Tian and Wakanda. It’s incredible how similar the speech is to President Asterisk’s North Korea threats from yesterday.
  • Following the speech we cut to scenes of war in both locations. Both resulting in Stevil acquiring cube fragments.
  • Meanwhile, at the rebel camp, Sam gives a rousing speech which results in all the remaining heroes deciding to make an all out, last ditch effort to bring Hydra down. They start with an assault on New Attilan to free the Inhumans.  There they meet an Inhuman named Barf who can apparently generate a cube fragment by vomiting it up.  A very convenient, if somewhat disgusting, plot device.
  • Later, we learn that A.I. Tony has experimented with the puked up cube fragment and has discovered that Stevil used a fragment to alter the outcome of Ulysseys' CWII vision.  How does A.I. Tony know this works?  He used the fragment to wish for the birthday cake which we saw back on page 1. The fragment's capabilities are limited, but A.I. Tony now has a plan for it.
  • Finally, we travel to Atlantis where we learn that Namor has been hiding a very non-dead Bucky Barnes. (He got better)


Secret Empire #8

Following directly from Captain America #25

  • This issue starts off with Bearded Steve. He’s still in the dreamworld and has crawled out of the lake.
  • Then we visit the rebel heroes as they prepare to deliver their message to the trapped heroes via time machine. The message arrives inside the Dark Force bubble and in the Alpha Flight space station. It’s Sam Wilson giving another rousing speech to rally everyone for an attack.  His plan is to take the puked up cube fragment to a point between the Dark Force bubble and the planetary shield in order to weaken both. Then the heroes will do their part to break out of their respective prisons.
  • Conveniently we learn that the space bound heroes suddenly have a "nullifier bomb" strong enough to scare Galactus (stolen by Rocket Raccoon) and Dr Strange has found a method to strike at the Dark Force.
  • Sam flies to the location and everything appears to be going according to plan until he is shot out of the sky by Hydra. As a result, the space bomb and Dr Strange’s trick don’t work.  Fortunately the cube fragment resurrects Sam, Qusar wakes up and destroys the shield, and Maria Hill kills Blackout which destroys the Dark Force bubble.  
  • All the heroes are now free and ready to rock.  They all gather together and are joined by Namor. Namor then reveals..ta da!…it’s Bucky! And he has a plan.
  • Cut back to Bearded Steve. He sees the angelic woman from last issue and realizes that it’s Sharon Carter. Suddenly she vanishes. Bearded Steve hears a voice tell him that they are all alone now. He looks up and sees…Kobik.



Secret Warriors #5
Still loving this book. This issue crosses over, in a way, with Captain America #25 as the Warriors arrive at New Attilan around the same time Sam Wilson and the rebel heroes are attacking it. Not crucial to the Secret Empire story but lots of fun nonetheless..

  

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 read only half of Captain America #25 last night, so I'll be back tomorrow to comment on it and Secret Empire #8.

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