REVIEW: Secret Empire #3 – “Tension Increasing”

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Writer: Nick Spencer
Penciler: Andrea Sorrentino with Rod Reis
Colorist: Andrea Sorrentino with Rod Reis
Inker: Andrea Sorrentino with Rod Reis
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Release Date: 05/31/17
Price: $3.99

Secret Empire #3

Plot: Both SHIELD and Hydra continue to seek out the pieces of the Cosmic Cube in order to return the world to “it’s original state.” While there is a lot going on, many characters are still discovering their role in this crazy, new world.

Story: The story of Secret Empire continues to build everything up and establish where all of the characters stand in this new world. The book has a really great spy thriller vibe in this issue that feels like it has a lot of secrets going on but shows just how high the stakes currently are. At this point, it’s mostly clear where the characters allegiances lie, but there is this heightened sense of urgency if the remaining members of SHIELD are going to save the world.

Secret Empire #3

The issue opens with a quiet meeting between Maria Hill and Black Widow and while they are fighting for the same side, the two characters seem to feel differently about how they need to operate within the world of Secret Empire. On one hand, the members of SHIELD like Hill want to be aggressive and not back down to the power and destruction that Hydra is causing. Emotions are running high, and it’s an interesting angle for Spencer to incorporate because everyone is processing this new world in different ways. Connecting two characters like Natasha and Maria is interesting because they both have militaristic and spy backgrounds, yet their individual feelings seem to clash to an extent.

The exchange the two have seems like it goes a lot deeper though, showing that everyone is still pretty lost. Nobody truly knows how to handle what is going on or what the right way of handling it is. These characters still have no idea how to process some of their closest friends, especially Steve, becoming evil like this. While taking action makes sense, the story really gives off a sense of uncertainty and confusion, similarly to how the reader should still feel when diving into the world of Secret Empire.

Secret Empire #3

On the other side of everything, the story continues to put a primary focus on Hydra Cap and everything the character is doing. This is the focal point of Secret Empire story because it is the most drastic change, and it becomes more than interesting to examine the decisions that the character makes. Hydra Cap stays compelling because while he is still completely ruthless and war minded (as seen in his decision to engage in war with Atlantis with no hesitation), the book also provides many great scenes between him and Sharon, where Steve feels authentic and just as loving as he was before.

Secret Empire #3

Art: Secret Empire is an interesting book when it comes to the artwork. For the most part, the art is perfect for the events that are taking place because of how high the stakes currently are. The book dives right into spies, action, and this general fallout and crisis in humanity. For scenes and panels that focus on the direct events taking place, the art style works perfectly. During Natasha and Maria’s meeting there is a lot emotion that is communicated perfectly through their facial expressions. The all red coloring to the panels gives off a war room type feel, showing how secretive this meeting really is. Secret Empire has an extremely dark feel and tone to it, which is when Sorrentino and Reis’s style works incredibly well.

Secret Empire #3

Secret Empire has also started to explore this possible idea that the real Steve is still existing somewhere, just trapped. While there is not a lot of development into where he is or what is happening, the art style also works well for this almost fantasy like setting. The location has dreamlike qualities to it, and again the art team utilizes the almost watercolor feel to the fullest. Having little paint splatters and extensions of the scenery bleed over the panel edges add a nice touch to the mystical location.

At some points, the art in Secret Wars feels repetitive though, and while it adds an immense amount to the appropriate scenes, there are a couple of situations where it doesn’t fit. This issue shows the Champions running through situations but the artwork feels slightly abstract when a lot of information and dialogue is happening at the same time. Overall, the style works for the book, but at certain times can feel out of place.

Verdict: Secret Empire continues to build up what is already a very interesting story. Nick Spencer seems to have a very calculated plan and so far it’s fascinating to read how these characters react to everything going on. The book’s art definitely has the right style, but doesn’t fully nail the feeling for each of the scenes. The gritty feel is perfect for how bleak things are, but at points doesn’t seem right when Secret Empire is focusing on non-spy or war situations.

Rating: 4/5

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