REVIEW: Secret Empire #7– “A Hand to Lift Us Back Up”

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Writer: Nick Spencer
Artists: Andrea Sorrentino, Rod Reis, Joshua Cassara & Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Release Date: 7/26/17
Price: $4.99

Nothing is the same, but that won’t stop Miles Morales from accepting the destiny he once saw. However, Natasha has a different plan for the Resistance.

Secret Empire #7

Plot: The Resistance has decided to take out Captain America once and for all, and Miles Morales believes it must be him as per the vision prophesied in Civil War II. Black Widow finally encounters The Punisher, who has been tracking her all this time and learns his motivations for supporting Hydra.

Story:  Although Spencer seems to struggle juggling too many plots in this book, I love all of the emotion and character development packed into Secret Empire #7. We see Nat decide to protect Miles from becoming like her, and it’s clear that even as she keeps the new Red Room on their toes she still has maternal feelings for the young heroes.

Even more moving is finding out Frank Castle’s motivation for supporting Hydra – a chance at getting his family back in the new reality. Ultimately, all the characters in this book are lying to themselves in one way or the other, Spencer just poses the question of how far they’re willing to take that lie. Even Steve Rogers questions if the ends justify the means for his idealized world.

Time and again this book has risen above the sensationalist “Hydra Cap” plot to show readers a deeper side of their favorite characters and what they would do in the most difficult of circumstances.

The main element of the story that still doesn’t work for me is the second Captain America and his journey back. I’m still wondering why I should care or who this guy really is? It feels like these pages could be spent on progressing the main plot.

Without spoiling, there is a controversial death in Secret Empire #7. While it didn’t completely ruin the issue for me, it does leave me wondering what Marvel’s endgame is and whether the deaths in Secret Empire will stick.

Art: The art in this book still takes on the drab, washed out coloring that seems to follow this book and Captain America: Steve Rogers,  but stands out in other ways.

Natasha’s action scenes with the Punisher remind me of the last Black Widow solo book and it’s exciting to see her in spy-mode. I really like these scenes that capture the individual movements and am glad to see them incorporated here.

Secret Empire #7

The whole section with The Punisher is beautifully done and takes a lot of big bold risks like building up pages with mosaics of dozens of tiny panels instead of a few large ones. I really love the contrast in coloring on this page also.

Secret Empire #7

Supplementing the story, we see plenty of emotion from the characters as well. Seeing the defeated Cap, just moments before he turns on Sharon displays the complexity of the character and situation so well.

Secret Empire, including this issue, has had a large rotating cast of artists but manages to maintain a consistent feel even when the styles differ.

Verdict: Secret Empire #7 brings the emotional punch, but lacks a completely coherent structure. If the pieces had been arranged a little bit differently this book could have rated higher. That said if you’ve been a loyal reader of Secret Empire there is no reason to stop now. The stakes are as high as ever and Spencer isn’t afraid to (seemingly) kill off beloved characters.  The death in this book has already brewed a lot of controversy, but I’m skeptical that the Cosmic Cube won’t set at least a few of these missteps right.

I am interested to see where this journey ends even if it has been a bumpy road.

Rating:  4/5 Stars

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