How does Secret Empire #2 hold up to the highly anticipated first issue? What new twists and turns will we find out about regarding the Marvel Universe? Is it all just hype and no real substance to speak of? These and other burning questions will be revealed in this super-exciting sequel to the last issue’s pulse-pounding review!
First: this issue has been illustrated by a completely different art team—Andrea Sorrentino and Rod Reis. It’s a very different style than issue #1, and it’s a pretty huge tonal shift from Steve McNiven’s work. Giving Marvel the benefit of a doubt, it’s possible that they did this intentionally to establish an alternate “vibe” to the first issue, as it opens on New York city and a bunch of doings there with Iron Fist and etc.. But I did feel somewhat disoriented.
So we start with some pretty interesting “what if the Apocalypse happened in NYC” type stuff with the aforementioned Iron Fist, Cage, Jessica Jones, and others (what I like to call “the Netflix Crew”) trying to hustle medicine and other supplies to the survivors and out of the clutches of the Kingpin.
Then we move back to “The Mount” and the Underground, which feels more and more (probably accentuated here by Sorrentino’s at-times movie-likeness quality art style) as if it has been “blended” into the movie Captain America: Civil War. In particular, Black Widow is pretty dead-on evoking Scarlet Johansson here.
Now…here is where things get a little bat-shit insane, at least for me…
The remaining Underground/Avengers members get a special transmission from the recently deceased Rick Jones, detailing what *really* happened to Captain America.
Now, I turn the page from this point, and what I read makes me go…
It’s not that it’s *bad*…it’s just that…I mean, holy shit…
So it is revealed that the Cosmic Cube was used to bend reality and make Captain America/Steve Rogers an agent of HYDRA.
This all happened because pieces of the Cosmic Cube apparently became a powerful little girl named Kobik. And I was like…oh, I heard of this story before: this is Philip K. Dick’s VALIS.
And then, being a huge PKD fan, I gently closed the comic book and needed a minute:
But then I quickly (relatively speaking) pulled myself together, because I knew I had to finish this review.
And so Kobik (or should I call her KOBIK?) was manipulated by the Red Skull to change reality so Captain America was really a HYDRA agent.
And so now this story becomes Quest For The Stuff We Need To Make Cap OK Again…which, honestly, is pretty much what I expected to happen. I always felt it was impossible for Captain America to *really* stay evil, as he’s become a key character both in the movies and other merchandising. OK. So that’s fine.
NOW, there is then a scene where Black Widow and Hawkeye begin to make out, but then she smacks him in the face when he says something stupid. This is emphasized artistically by an extra highlight box placed right where she smacks him. Clint was a dick; it was avoidable. But we do have our bit of human drama, which, despite its cliches, is somewhat enjoyable on a primal level.
And then bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla Good Guy “Alternate” Steve Rogers suddenly shows up.
So all-in-all…in some ways, this issue moved a lot faster than the first, and felt more like a standard action comic book. It was also a little easier to follow, especially with a two-page expository section that pretty much spoon-feeds you the premise of the rest of the series.
Again: I don’t *hate* the reveals here, and they were also not unexpected…I guess I just held in the back of my mind the “What If?” concerning if Captain America was now *really* evil for the rest of Marvel’s entire publishing endeavors.
But I suppose that’s how they “getcha,” every single time. The “lure” that it might all really “change.”
But that’s only really going to happen in movie reboots at this point, I think.
SECRET EMPIRE #2 IS ON SALE NOW