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Secret Empire #0

by Kalem Lalonde on April 19, 2017

Writer: Nick Spencer
Artists: Daniel Acuna & Rod Reis

It’s been building to this. Ever since Cap uttered “Hail Hydra” in Captain America: Steve Rogers #1, we have been waiting for him to reveal himself to the rest of the Marvel Universe. Nick Spencer used the last year to brilliantly explore the new Steve as he plots behind the scenes and gets ready to reveal himself to the world. Fortunately for us, Spencer did not wait too long to get to his end goal and we finally have the prologue to Marvel’s next big event Secret Empire. Marvel’s endless streak of bad events has gotten very tiring but I am happy to report that just like Secret Wars, this is an event worth reading. If Secret Empire #0 is an indication of what’s to come, I think we’re in for something special.

I have been loving Nick Spencer’s Captain America epic so it comes as no surprise to me that Secret Empire #0 is a great issue. Many trolls came out against Spencer’s decision to create Hydra-Cap but I was always onboard. Spencer has actually been able to explore what makes Steve Rogers a special character through his alternate history by keeping a deep desire to make the world a better place. In Secret Empire, this obviously comes in the form of a Hydra revolution. Finally, Secret Empire #0 shows Steve’s plan unfold and it is fittingly tense and epic.

What stood out about Secret Empire #0 is how truly epic it is. Much like Secret Wars #1, there is a sense here that the consequences of this story will be felt across the entire Marvel World. This isn’t like Axis, an event that would disappear in the minds of fans within a solid 20 second. Secret Empire #0 shows Steve tearing the heroes of the Marvel Universe apart by throwing endless amounts of enemies at them and making certain that they fail to stop them. Nick Spencer achieved something here that is rarely achieved in comics. While I was reading this issue, I kept asking myself how the heroes will win at the end of this series. I had a constant sense of urgency that the bad guys, Hydra, might actually defeat the good guys. We have yet to reach the moments where Cap’s friends find out about his turn and I already feel the despair and hopelessness events should make you feel.

What unfortunately really holds this issue back is the first couple of pages set in the present. Because this is a zero issue Nick Spencer infuses these pages with boring exhibition that kills the momentum built in Steve Rogers #16 (which you really should read before this issue). This isn’t a glaring flaw that compromises the quality of this comic but it, unfortunately, held it back from being a perfect first issue the way Secret Wars #1 was.

Daniel Acuna reunites with Nick Spencer to draw the majority of this issue and does tremendous work. I often forget how laborious an event is for any artist because they need to draw so many characters and put so much more work into the pages than in most comics. What Acuna really nails here is the scope of Secret Empire. Everything looks grandiose from the space battle to the fight in New York, to even Steve giving commands in the Helicarrier. Secret Empire will have a group of rotating artists and I hope Acuna returns to do an issue or two. Secret Empire #0’s success is very much attributed to how grand Acuna made it look.

Secret Empire #0 is the beginning of something big. It is the beginning of an important moment for Marvel. After struggling for the last year to please audiences, Marvel really needs this event to attract readers rather than repel them. I have been on board Nick Spencer’s Cap epic since day one so they had a guaranteed reader in me but I truly think this issue will be able to draw the interest of most comic readers. Nick Spencer is about to drop a massive bomb on the fabric of the Marvel Universe and has promised in this prologue issue that it will be epic, emotional, and most importantly memorable. If this streak continues, we will have a great event on our hands. I can’t wait to get a hold of the next issue.

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A Look Inside