REVIEW: Secret Empire #2 – “Will the Real Steve Rogers Please Stand Up?”

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Secret Empire #2

SECRET EMPIRE #2
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artists: Andrea Sorrentino with Rod Reis
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham 
Release Date: 5/17/17
Price: $4.99

While New York still lives in darkness, the Resistance must decide what to do with Captain America and Hydra. Meanwhile, the shards of the Cosmic Cube are still missing and an old friend shows up.

Secret Empire #2

Plot: Trying to summarize the plot of this issue is a little difficult when it covers so many different stories that all intertwine. In New York, we see The Defenders, Cloak and Dagger and Doctor Strange all trying to fight against the dark forces that have overtaken the city. The resistance, led by Black Widow, continues to struggle in making a decision to take down Hydra and new information left by Rick Jones leads to in-fighting. Meanwhile, at Hydra headquarters, Steve still questions his own ability to lead after the Las Vegas bombings.

Story: Nick Spencer continues to write a strong book by focusing the attention away from Hydra and Captain America. He instead looks at how the event causes huge ripples in the Marvel Universe. Whether it’s watching friends turn against each other or starting to question who the real villains are, Spencer forces the reader to jump into this world and see from multiple perspectives. And for the most part, he juggles multiple story lines while staying true to the tone and identity of characters who might also have their own ongoing books that are tied into the event.

One of my favorite scenes this issue doesn’t focus on any of the heroes at all. Instead, it looks at how the common people are struggling to survive New York. We see crime lord Wilson Fisk use this to his advantage, promising to help the people get access to medicine and supplies if they remember their loyalty after all this is over. Scenes like this remind you the event is about so much more than whether Captain America is a bad guy. No, the book is about what happens when everything we know gets turned upside down.

Secret Empire #2

Without spoiling anything for those who haven’t read the issue, the most notable part of this story is, of course, the shocking twist at the end that seemingly reintroduces a character the reader thought was gone. This introduction could completely change everything we know about this reality. Since it comes at the end of the issue, only time will tell how Nick Spencer pulls it off.

Art: Andrea Sorrentino teams up with Rod Reis for this issue for very intense panels that match the gravity of the story. The shadowing and coloring give an eerie, horror-like vibe to the issue. While Hydra imagery is always a little creepy, the artists seem to go above and beyond this issues between the monsters invading New York and this gem:

The interesting use of panel arrangements also makes this issue stand out. There are several panels arranged more as a puzzle (in some cases forming the Hydra symbol) rather than being traditionally outlined. The way they fit together like a strange puzzle really symbolizes what this story is – a mystery that falls more into place with each issue.

While the artists do a fine job with showing the expressions and emotions of the characters, including a lot of angry Natasha, where they really shine are the more sweeping panels that give you a taste of the world. Watching Dagger literally light up the entire city of New York is breathtaking.

Secret Empire #2

 

Verdict: This issue progressed the Secret Empire story nicely, adding both character development and providing a shocking plot twist. While I was initially skeptical of another crossover event, the comic ties all the different stories together while really keeping up each character’s authenticity.

The con of a huge crossover event like this is the Secret Empire book will always have to skimp on some plot lines to make room for others. This issue focused on the fallout of Steve’s actions, but I would like to see more about the secondary characters working in Hydra instead of just the Resistance.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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