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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Well, they did until Secret Empire.

Richard Willis said:

Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) said:

Las Vegas isn't real. It's a lot of things, but real isn't one of them.

It's a cute thing to say, but over 600,000 real people live there.

That's the problem with destroying cities for dramatic effect, after a few cites are gone so is the dramatic effect.  I think Atlantis and Wakanda were both destroyed and I think they are both back.

Nothing too earth shattering this week but here is your requisite spoiler space:

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Secret Empire #4
This issue goes off on a bit of a tangent as we see the rebel heroes and Stevil’s squad forced into a surreal family dinner/therapy session. The whole thing is orchestrated by Hanktron? Ultrank? as he seems intent on convincing everyone on both sides that they are the reason that everything sucks now. Additionally, he, Hank Pym (or whatever he is now) is just an innocent victim who never got the credit he deserved for his heroic exploits.  The end result of all of this drama is that the rebel heroes end up with a piece of the cosmic cube.


Meanwhile Black Widow continues her quest to assassinate Stevil, Namor turns over a cube fragment to Hydra, WWII Steve Rogers meets up with (apparently) Sam Wilson and Bucky inside the dreamworld (or whatever it is) that he inhabits and we learn that Stevil has a mole within the rebel group.

Kind of a strange issue with minimal plot/story advancement.

Secret Warriors #3
This book continues to be a pleasant surprise.  I hadn’t read much of Matthew Rosenberg’s stuff prior to this but he has completely won me over.  The setup for this series comes out of Secret Empire but the thing I enjoy is the character bits. Really funny stuff where every character gets a chance to shine.  This issue features a perfectly executed dust up with the X-Men as the Warriors continue to try and evade their Hydra pursuers.

Sam Wilson #23
This issue features a direct lead-in to Secret Empire #4 as Sam guides the rebel heroes towards their confrontation with Hank Pym.  Along the way there’s an amusing encounter with the Mole Man wherein we learn that he’s a big fan of The Leftovers and Fargo. (Can’t fault him for that.)  

Secret Empire: United #1
Not sure if this is a one shot or a mini but, like Brave New World, it feels mostly like a shameless cash-in.  The story focuses on the political conflicts between Hydra Nation and the sovereign mutant state of New Tian.  Apparently the mutants are not content to just stand by while Hydra continues to consolidate power so we see a lot of Game of Thrones style maneuvering going on.  The main takeaway here is that the mutants appear to have a Cosmic Cube shard.

Come to think of it puzzle piece quest have been around a while.  Dr. Who, Key to Time is the first one that comes to mind, but in the original Avengers/Defenders crossover didn't they have to assemble something as well?



Mark S. Ogilvie said:

Come to think of it puzzle piece quest have been around a while.  Dr. Who, Key to Time is the first one that comes to mind, but in the original Avengers/Defenders crossover didn't they have to assemble something as well?


Yeah. IIRC in Avengers/JLA Kurt Busiek had the heroes rounding up artifacts that were previously used in several of those type of stories.

I read all of this week’s new comics last night and saved Sam Wilson #23 and Secret Empire #4 for last. I fell asleep about halfway through Secret Empire #4. That’s not necessarily a comment on the quality of the issue, it was just past my regular bedtime. I have a hard time picturing this story dragging out for another six issues, and I agree with your overall assessment that there was “nothing too earth-shattering this week.”

Thanks again for reviewing the crossover books.



Jeff of Earth-J said:

Thanks again for reviewing the crossover books.

Happy to do it, although I'm (fortunately?) not reading ALL of them.

Here's this weeks entries:

Steve Rogers #18

Besides an incredibly misleading cover, we also get Stevil lecturing the United Nations (Marvel says this was all written prior to current events but that scene feels ripped directly from the headlines), and verbal confrontations with Black Panther and Namor. This issue is pretty much filler all around. It does tie in to one of the stories in Brave New World but that story isn’t essential reading either, IMO.

Secret Empire Underground #1

This book features the rebel group of heroes led by Mockingbird. In this story, they travel to the Savage Land in search of a Cosmic Cube fragment. Along the way they run in to Sauron. Nicely executed with some pretty sharp dialogue and a light humorous tone. Again, you’re not missing anything crucial to the main story if you skip it.

Secret Empire Brave New World #2

I just skimmed this one. There’s a story which introduces a new hero called the Patriot, a continuation of the “Invaders” story from the first issue, and a story about Hydra Bob which looks similar to the Hank Johnson Hydra story from Secret Wars.

Overall, not a very impressive week. I'm feeling what little enthusiasm I had for this event start to wane.

STEVE ROGERS #18: Steve Rogers’ speech to the U.N. would have been perfect… if it had been made by made by Dr. Doom. Seriously, that was quite possibly the best “Dr. Doom” speech ever written. I think I may eventually retcon this entire arc [on Earth-J] so that Doom used the mind transfer abilities he learned from the Ovoids on Captain America just prior to the start of the current series.

Villains often make the best speeches.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

STEVE ROGERS #18: Steve Rogers’ speech to the U.N. would have been perfect… if it had been made by made by Dr. Doom. Seriously, that was quite possibly the best “Dr. Doom” speech ever written. I think I may eventually retcon this entire arc [on Earth-J] so that Doom used the mind transfer abilities he learned from the Ovoids on Captain America just prior to the start of the current series.

Surprisingly high number of spoliers to follow this time around:

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Secret Empire #5 (of 10)


This is the only SE book I got this week but I found it to be fairly satisfying in terms of story progression and plot developments:

  • For starters we get Black Widow and her team trying to convince Viper to stage a coup against Stevil.  The key to this is a mysterious old dude in a hospital bed who appears to be Viper’s prisoner.  No doubt this will be fleshed out further in the Uprising tie-in books.

  • Elsewhere, bearded Cap and his buddies continue on their Huckleberry Finn-ish trek through the dreamworld.  They catch some fish and bust each other's chops.

  • Mockingbird’s team visits Wakanda and learns that the Black Panther won’t hand over his cube fragment. He leaves the door open if they want to bring all the fragments to him though.  Exhausted and having found only a couple of fragments, the team gives up their “cube quest,” but not before bringing Shang-Chi on board.

  • Stevil pow-wows with Hank McCoy and warns him that he may have to use Mjolnir if the mutants don’t turn over their cube fragment.  Spencer continues to drop hints that Stevil has a master plan in motion to grab all of the cube fragments.

  • Meanwhile back at rebel headquarters we find out that the rebels have been working on a time machine that will travel to the past and send out warnings about Hydra’s takeover.  The catch is that the time machine must first lie buried under rebel HQ for a hundred years.  Suddenly, A.I. Tony realizes that the rebels have a mole and orders shields up. At which time Stevil’s forces attack.  The mole is, of course, Mockingbird who has secretly been hunting the cube shards for Stevil.

  • Cut back to bearded Steve’s dreamscape as we see him and his companions attacked by…you guessed it… the Red Skull. And he seems to have been working out a lot.

  • Finally, in one last revelation, we learn that Stevil has somehow managed  to resurrect Bruce Banner and enlist him in the fight.


Sorrentino’s art seems a little more conventional this time around. The storytelling and panel structure have tightened up a little bit.  I found it easier to follow than previous issues.

There’s a lot to digest in this issue and much of it seems to point to Jeff’s theory that this is somehow tied to Ed Brubaker’s Reborn story.  CBR has now speculated along those lines as well with this article.

A lot of the speculation seems to center around this scene from Reborn which shows Hydra type vessels and mysterious figure holding Mjolnir

and which bears some resemblance to scenes like this one from SE #5

Any hint as to why Mockingbird is the traitor?



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.

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