REVIEW: Secret Empire #1 – “Hail Hydra!”

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Secret Empire

Writer: Nick Spencer
Penciler: Steve McNiven
Inker: Jay Leisten
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Release Date: 05/03/17
Rating: Rated T+
Price: $4.99

Secret Empire

After a battle left Steve Rogers drained of the Infinity Formula, and the Super Soldier Serum he began to age to his rightful age. Maria Hill using a sentient Cosmic Cube named Kobik created a fictional city named Pleasant Hill, where the villains lived a simple quiet life unaware of the lives they lived before in this wholesome little town. When the villains begin to awaken they stage a coup and take over the town and capturing Kobik.

The Red Skull having controlled the Cosmic Cube for years developed a bond with the little girl the Cube is disguised as and convinces her to return Steve Rogers to his prime, but add into his memories that he was an agent of Hydra. For months Steve Rogers worked his way around climbing to the new director of S.H.I.E.L.D. so he can implement his plan for Hydra to take over America.

Now Captain America’s plan is in play. With some of the heroes blocked out of the planet fighting the Chitauri and others under an impenetrable Darkforce dome over New York City. But there is hope as a few heroes remain free and fight back against Hydra and their new Supreme Leader, Captain America.


Plot: Welcome to the new world order, one where Captain America is a Hydra Agent and has taken over the planet. But not everyone is on his side, those who oppose him have joined the underground.

Secret Empire

Story:  This story picks up some time after the events of Secret Empire #0, I say some time, because it appears that Captain America went from showing that he is the Supreme Leader of Hydra, to having most of the country bending to his will. Schools are already teaching the new Hydra version of history that says the Allies lost the war but used a Cosmic Cube to bend reality and warp it so that history as we know it (the truth) replaced what really happened. Inhumans and presumably any super/meta human who hasn’t registered with the state is hunted and locked up. You get Nazi vibe with the whole new world order.


In addition to that a group of rebels have risen with the legacy characters, and a few others standing against Captain America. We also get to see some of the inner workings of this new Hydra council as they give Captain America a briefing on the underground. Steve seems to be wrestling with his moral compass throughout most of this issue, or I could be projecting it, hoping it.

Secret Empire

While sitting at dinner with his prisoner, Sharon Carter, she tries to get through to the Steve she knows, but at the same time resisting all of his gestures. We discover that Hydra is holding Rick Jones as a prisoner and his release will help Sharon begin to trust Steve, but that would make the council see him as weak.  Steve visits Rick, we find out that apparently Rick hacked into Hydra, stole files and sent them to someone, who we discover is a young boy named, Rayshaun “Shaun” Lucas, who joins the underground with the files. For some reason, the A.I. Tony just throws the drive into a pile brushing it off. This seems very out of character even though Tony explains it is because he has essentially given up hope on saving Captain America. With his power in question Captain America goes on the news, and gives a speech as Rick Jones is put to death by a firing line and Hydra carriers strike the city to send a message to the Underground.

Secret Empire

Art:  The art here is the clear highlight of the book, but less than what I have come to expect from Steve McNiven. McNiven usually has this hyper-detailed style that just springs each page to life. I am not sure if it was the schedule that had him rush the art some, the inks, or the colors but something felt off here. While I really did enjoy the art, I just come to expect a different level from McNiven.
Secret Empire

Verdict: Overall this was an ok issue. I felt there was a chapter missing, which may be the FCBD offering tomorrow, but that should fall between Secret Empire #1 and Secret Empire #2, and not #0 and #1. I felt like this issue, and the event seems to be another shot of Nick Spencer standing on his soapbox preaching his political and social thoughts and views on us through the Marvel Universe. It is very obvious how he uses Captain America’s role in this event to mirror that of Donald Trump, from the wall, to the rounding up of “undocumented illegals” to the bombing of enemies, this book is just another example of Spencer using Captain America to force his social and political views on us in the guise of plot. I would say this event could be skipped, but if you want to read any Marvel books for the next few months you have to read Secret Empire.  

Secret Empire

Rating: 3 stars.


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