Captain America’s HYDRA regime continues in another enthralling, mature issue of Secret Empire…
Previously in Secret Empire: HYDRA have subjugated the country thanks to their glorious leader Captain America. Though he shows signs of remorse, Rogers went ahead with HYDRA’s plan to destroy Las Vegas and execute Rick Jones to show decisive, firm leadership. In this issue, the Underground – a team of leftover heroes – debate over a difficult decision of their own: is it time to kill Captain America?
As I said in my last review, if you put aside your worries about what this series is doing to Steve Roger’s character, Secret Empire is actually one heck of a book and one the best Marvel events for years. The reason why is that the stakes are both global and personal, allowing for some excellent drama. Here, for instance, the crux of the issue is a heartfelt debate between Black Widow and Hawkeye – the leaders of the Underground – over what to do with Cap. Barton believes they should hunt down the pieces of the Cosmic Cube and restore Steve while Natasha thinks that the real Steve wouldn’t want to be used to harm people and they should take him out. Like Captain America: Civil War, you can see both sides of the argument. Also as with CW, it is interesting to see which heroes side with who.
Elsewhere, we check in on New York, which has been brought to the brink of collapse thanks to HYDRA imprisoning it in the Darkforce Dimension. It’s up to the Defenders and Night Nurse Claire Temple to do the best they can, as well as Cloak and Dagger giving it their all to save the NYC citizens from the monstrous denizens of the Darkforce. This side of the story also gives us the issue’s best moment – a massive revelation that turns the premise of the comic on its head and, happily, might have just found a way for Marvel to redeem Steve Rogers after his turn to the dark side.
As well as having all the customary cameos you could ask for, Secret Empire #2 succeeds thanks to the measured tone which keeps things dark and dramatic (though not ridiculously bleak). Including Secret Empire #0, the series is three for three right now so let’s hope that continues in future.