REVIEW: Secret Empire #8 – “Deus Ex Machina Checklist”

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Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Daniel Acuna
Additional Art: Rod Reis; Sean Izaakse & Java Tartaglia
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Recap Page Art: Andrea Sorrentino
Cover: Mark Brooks
Variant Covers: Dan Mora & Edgar Delgado; Andrea Sorrentino; John Tyler Christopher; Keisuke Mizuno
Release Date: 08/09/17
Rating: Rated T+
Price: $4.99

Secret Empire #8 Cover

The seeds of Secret Empire began 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. But there is a resistance and hope.

Please read Captain America #25 before you read this issue.

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Plot: As Steve Rogers declares war on Wakanda and New Tian, Sam Wilson resumes the role of Captain America to lead the resistance in a battle against Hydra. They plan to take down the dome and shield and to undo the effects of the Cosmic Cube on Steve Rogers.


Story: Within the Vanishing Point Steve Rogers survives his execution at the hands of Red Skull. On Earth Giant-Man activates his time capsule that buries itself underground for 100 years and then sends a pre-recorded message of Sam Wilson as Captain America to those trapped under the Dome and beyond the shield to fight back that they have a plan to destroy both using a small piece of the cosmic cube that the Inhuman Barf, well barfed up. The actual barf up scene you have to have read in this week’s Captain America #25, but is sort of shown on the recap page.


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I can’t believe this is actually a plot. I mean the fate of the world changes because an Inhuman has the power to barf up anything he can visualize. So when shown a piece of the cosmic cube, the piece that Steve Rogers and Hydra took from the underground, he barfs it up and just like that they have a piece of the cube that has a fraction of its power. Steve doesn’t even miss the fragment, so is it the actual fragment, which you would think he would since, you know it is in his possession and he is trying to reunite the fragments.

The underground through the video of Sam Wilson work in unison with the heroes under the dome and those trapped outside of the shield. Doctor Strange makes a deal to acquire a spell to bring down the dome in exchange of his Sanctum Sanctorum, but maybe doesn’t have to pay it since the spell didn’t work? This plot point which could be major for Strange with long lasting consequences but is left in a vague limbo, I guess we will learn someday in Doctor Strange.

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Sam Wilson is shot down with the Cosmic Cube fragment, we see blood on his chest, but apparently the limited power of it healed his mortal wound. Meanwhile more miracles happened. Beyond the shield the Nullifier bomb failed, but Quasar wakes up from her coma and manages to break through the Shield, something she could not do before the coma. This is supposed to give us that feeling of hope and knowledge that all will be ok, but honestly just feels so deus ex machina. Instead of feeling that sensation of hope welling up in me, I found myself rolling my eyes.

Meanwhile Maria Hill following intell from Deadpool finds Marcus Daniels, who for whatever reason still think she is Mayor Hill of Pleasant Hill, and she calls him “Bob” before referring to him as Blackout, and shooting him in the head, which takes down the Darkforce dome. So, “Bob” is still under the Pleasant Hill persona, but Hydra apparently also made him use his Blackout powers to create and maintain the dome, while not remembering who he is or that he is doing it. Again this felt so weak, and so contrived. I would have preferred if he knew who he was and what he was doing, that he was working along side of Hydra or something, but this felt so weak that is failed on multiple levels. But we can all see this is how Maria Hill will become Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. again.

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The rest of this issue is just the same, all the heroes gathering around uniting for the first time determined to take down Hydra and return Steve Rogers to his true self using the cosmic cube. Oh, and remember when Bucky died? He didn’t he is back, with Namor and he has a plan! Yeah, that happened. Just another deus ex machina, so for those keeping track that makes four of them in just one issue. Then for the big “OMG” moment of this issue since you know they are required in this event, we return to the Vanishing Point where Steve sees Sharon, but she disappears and he then sees Kobik, and recognizes her, (add sarcastic tone) I did not see that coming.

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Art:  The art here was a mixed bag to be honest. There were times where you had nice clean pages, then it changed to a more muddy look/feel. Also the women all seemed to have had the same faces as did all the men, felt very cookie cutter for me. 

No one ever stood out. I honestly didn’t know that the one scene with the new Giant-Man that he was talking to the All-New Patriot. The art was so generic that I assumed he was Miles Morales, until he Giant-Man referred to him as Shaun. I do not know where the fault lies either, it could be the other artists that have been on this title who have turned the young teen into the buff All-New Patriot, or the artist here who drew him very generic looking. I love these artists individually but this is a time when the sum of the parts weaken the whole.

Verdict: Overall this issue just doesn’t give me the hope and excitement it should have because it felt like it was just going down a list and saying “shield down, check, dome down check, inspire heroes check, reassure readers check, shocking event check, that omg page check.” and I never felt it was organic, which is sad. I think the main issue is that this event has dragged on for so long and you have to read other issues of other books to get the full scope of the event. I keep wrestling with my score, and I think I would have given it higher, but there were so many deus ex machina moments and no real character moments here.

Secret Empire #8 Rating

Rating: 2 stars.


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